Acquired: Bred animal myself
Congleton, Cheshire, United Kingdom
Posted Sep 12, 2012
The classic badger face is white with black throat, underbelly and rump. They have two black line markings on their faces extending down from the eyes (and it's these that give them their name). However the Torwen (Welsh for 'white belly') form has the colours reversed. They are a black sheep with white belly and white lines on the face.
They are Welsh Mountain sheep bred specifically for this particular pattern of coloration and they are very cute. A few sheep with these colour patterns would occur in Welsh Mountain flocks every few generations and they were prized as living flock markers, used instead of brands to mark out ownership. In the 1970s a few breeders decided to get together to breed a pure strain with the characteristics named above.
Like everyone with Welsh Mountain sheep we would get a few badger faces every few generations. Then one spring, six strays entered our flock. No one else in the area had badger faces and though we tried we never found who owned them or where they escaped from. No one claimed them and we, to our surprise, ended up with the nucleus of a small flock.
They are terrific hardy little sheep, slightly more docile than the Welsh Mountain and with shorter and denser fleeces. They are very protective mothers, but not particularly prolific. They are very much a rarity and if you have a small flock you can typically sell ewes and rams because of their cuteness and novelty value. For meat they really only work under upland-style management and on lowland farms to be economic they need to be crossed with larger breeds, so they are only economic if you want to breed them as pedigrees or to supply other farms.
They often work in smallholdings because of their novelty value. They are also in demand by some farms as a rare breed. Though tamer than a Welsh Mountain they are probably not really tame enough to be considered good pets, despite being an unusual and very pretty looking breed.