Acquired: Bred animal myself
Congleton, Cheshire, United Kingdom
Posted Oct 02, 2012
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.