The North Ronaldsay Sheep is a breed of sheep living on North Ronaldsay, the northernmost of the Orkney Islands, Scotland. They are one survivor of a type of sheep formerly found across the islands of Orkney and Shetland – the other is the Shetland, and both types belong to the Northern European short-tailed sheep group of breeds.
North Ronaldsay Sheep are notable for living almost entirely on seaweed for several months of the year, except for a short lambing season – this is the only forage available to them, as they are confined to the shoreline by a six-foot-high dry-stone wall which encloses the whole island. The semi feral flock on North Ronaldsay is confined to the foreshore for most of the year to conserve the limited grazing inland. This breed is raised primarily for wool.
Appearance / health:
According to the North Ronaldsay Sheep Fellowship, "The animals are "primitive" and fine-boned and have evolved in a specialised seashore environment on their native island but adapt well to mainland management including conservation grazing. The colour of the face and legs is variable. The head is small and the ewe’s face is "dished". The tail is short and thin. Rams are horned, but ewes can be horned, polled or scurred. The ewes have a strong maternal instinct and lamb very easily frequently producing twins; a lambing % of 140 is normal. The meat is a superb flavour due to the slow maturation and animals are usually finished at 15 months."