Clun Forest Sheep originate in Shropshire, England, near the Welsh border. The Clun Forest is dual purpose sheep (meat and wool), and, like other hill / upland breeds is hardy and a good grazer.
According to the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy, "As far back as 1837 reference was made to the many excellent qualities of the Clun. The virtues of hardiness and fertility were the products of natural selection and sheep-lore based on the geological structure of the area. Many Clun flocks are maintained at altitudes of 1,000 to 1,500 feet above sea level, whilst others thrive on rich lowlands. The Clun Forest Sheep Breeders Society was founded in 1925."
Clun Forest Sheep were first imported into North American in 1970.
Appearance / health:
According to the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy, "Clun Forest sheep are white with dark brown faces and legs. They have forelocks of white wool, but no little below the knees and hocks. Both rams and ewes are polled. The wool is medium, with a staple length of 6-10 cm and a fleece weight of 4-6 pounds. Micron count ranges between 56s and 58s. The wool is dense, relatively free from kemp and black fibers, and uniform in quality."
One of the most common ailments among sheep is a viral skin disease called soremouth or “orf.” Ringworm or “club lamb fungus” is a rash also common among sheep. And much like “mad cow disease,” sheep can have a similar neurological ailment called “scrapie.” Sheep health issues should be addressed by a qualified veterinarian. Good health is promoted by sanitary habitat conditions and proper nutrition.
Behavior / temperament:
Sheep are herd animals that rely on staying together as a flock to protect themselves from predators. They are highly sensitive to predators because they are basically “prey animals.” They sense the presence of threat from several hundred feet away (they are able to twist and turn their ears to detect potential danger) and instinctively flee instead of fight or attack. While fleeing, sheep run in a winding pattern to be able to see what is behind them.
As domesticated animals, sheep make good pets because they are docile and easily connect with humans, especially lambs that are bottle-fed. Miniature breeds and sheep that have hair instead of fur make ideal pets. Raising pet sheep is a popular project in the 4-H youth organization.
Housing / diet:
Sheep are grazing animals and do well living their entire lives outdoors. They get sufficient exercise and fresh air out in the field. They do need shelter from bad storms and unusually hot days. Many sheep keepers install field structures to provide shade, for example, hutches, domes, carports, and makeshift sheds. A common shade structure is a hoop house, like an open hangar or a greenhouse, which has a metal arched frame covered with tarp or other heavy-duty fabric.
Some sheep owners keep their flock in a barn or similar enclosure to protect them from predators. These enclosures must have very good ventilation because moisture and poor air conditions lead to the sheep’s poor health.
For warmth and comfort, bedding material should be provided. The best bedding is absorbent, clean, and dry. Some options are straw, wood shaving, sawdust, corncobs, dried corn stalks, peat, hemp, paper, and alfalfa hay. Preference is determined by cost, availability, convenience, and type of sheep. Wool sheep will not appreciate sawdust because it gets in their fleece. Paper is highly absorbent but difficult to manage in the field.
Lambs start with their mother’s milk and a light diet of pasture grass at two weeks old. After weaning the lambs from ewe’s milk at six weeks old, they can start eating dry feed of grains (wheat, oats, barley, cottonseed, corn), soybean and peanut hulls, and hay. The main diet of sheep is fresh grass and other forage and pasture vegetation. The pasture must be fertile and large enough to support the grazing of sheep for about seven hours a day (morning and afternoon). Fresh water must be constantly available, especially during the warm months and if the diet is mostly dry hay. Supplements are recommended, and must be given in the middle of the day to balance the sheep’s food intake.
meat, mutton, good carcass weight, hardy hill breed
wide hind quarters, old breed, dark black faces, good lamb breed
Clun Forests, an Historic Breed for the 21st Century
The Clun Forest is an old breed, first formally recorded in 1803, which comes from the woodland surrounding the old town of Clun in Shropshire, England. The first descriptions describes then as the sheep of the Welsh borders and says that they have white faces and are polled. By the 1850s though the Clun forest had changed by being outbred with other local sheep and how had dark black faces, narrow on the side.
This yielded a long-backed sheep with a square profile, the forequarters being as strong in shape as the hind quarters. Though they are mostly housed on lowland farms today, this is a hardy hill breed that does as well in woodland as on upland moors and rich pastureland.
The faces seem squashed compared to the body, and this makes the breed unmistakeable. They have a fine fleece, suitable for hand spinning and good carcass weight. They have wide hind quarters and are known for their easy lambing. Despite being a hill breed they are fecund and twinning is common.
They are often sold in the markets of Mid Wales and this was how we had some in our flock. Though they are a good lamb breed, they are better if sold for meat when older. They did originate as a Victorian mutton breed after all and we used to cross them with ewe lambs for later lambing and raising hoggets.
This is a very alert-looking breed with a stylish appearance and they make an excellent show sheep. They are probably more popular with the hobby farmer today. But as mutton is starting to make some small comeback as a saleable meat, there is more interest in the Clun Forest as a meat breed.
This is a very calm breed of sheep which can be kept in a wide variety of environments. Even if you have only woodland you can keep these. They work well for speciality meat (as mutton) but are just as good for smallholdings..
From DLlE Oct 2 2012 2:20PM