Boreray Sheep

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Other common names: Boreray Blackface Sheep; Hebridean Blackface Sheep

The basics:
The Boreray Sheep is a breed which is native to the remote St Kilda archipelago off the west coast of Scotland, and which has survived as a feral animal on one of the Boreray Island. The Boreray Sheep is one of the Northern European short-tailed sheep group of breeds.

The Boreray is the only sheep breed to be listed in "Category 1: Critical" by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust, because fewer than 300 Borerays are known to exist. In the 1970's a small flock of 6 Boreray Sheep were exported to the mainland in an attempt to increase the population of the breed, but the majority of Borerays still remain on Boreray island.

Appearance / health:
Despite being partially derived from a long-tailed breed (the Scottish Blackface), Borerays display characteristics which group them with other northern European short-tailed sheep. They are amongst the smallest sheep in the British Isles, with mature ewes weighing 28 kg (62 lb) and standing 55 cm (22 in) at the withers. They have naturally short tails, which do not require docking. They also moult their fleece naturally, rather than having to be sheared annually. Fleeces are grey or creamy white on the body, though darker individuals occur. Rough in quality, the wool is mostly used in the creation of tweeds or carpet yarns. The face, legs, and neck are often black. Faces and legs are wool-free. Both sexes of the Boreray display horns, although two pairs are no longer found. The especially large, spiral horns of the rams may be used for shepherd's-crook-making or other crafts.

Scrapie is a fatal, degenerative disease that affects the nervous systems of sheep and goats. It is one of several transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs), which are related to bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE or "mad cow disease") and chronic wasting disease of deer.

Housing / diet:
Boreray Sheep are hardy and able to thrive on rough grazing, and so are often used as conservation grazing animals to maintain natural grassland or heathland habitats. They are particularly effective at scrub control, having a strong preference for browsing.


white mottled faces, hardy sheep


accomplished escape artis


St Kilda archipelago, strong survival instincts, Old Scottish Shortwool, Rare Breeds Survival Trust

Boreray Sheep Health Tip

Boreray Sheep

From Andrea Hale Millfields Mar 5 2012 7:58AM


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