Since the Spring of 2016, we have grown our smallholding at Bachlaw Projects. We now have a small herd of Belted Galloway Cows along with Scottish Blackface Sheep and Suffolk Sheep.
Scottish Blackface Ewes and Lambs
In March 2017, our blackface sheep lambed and we got our first Scottish Blackface lambs! By April 2017, we got 15 lambs from our Blackface Sheep. Bachlaw introduced their first herd of Scottish Blackface Sheep to their smallholding in October 2016 from Lanarkshire. A total of 11 sheep landed at Upper Seaview. The clear majority of blackface sheep live in Scotland. They can survive, adapt and fit into any farming situation. These are their key qualities in the farming life. They have changed over the years due to climate, grazing quality and environment, bringing all this to their advantage. Blackface ewes and lambs mostly have horns, have a black or black and white face and legs.
In September 2016, Bachlaw Smallholding decided to branch out and add breeds of sheep to Upper Seaview. Our first Suffolk Sheep arrived from the Essie Flock based at Strichen. We got 10 of them altogether and they quickly settled into their new home. Since September, the Suffolk Sheep started lambing in January 2017 where we got twins and a single birth as the first lambs. By February 2017, the Suffolk Sheep had finished lambing with a total of 8 lambs. We also got an orphan lamb who made great friends with everyone, including Buddy the dog!
The History of Suffolk Sheep
The Suffolk sheep is one of the oldest British breeds and have been here since the late 1700’s. They are found all over the world in sheep producing countries. They originally developed around the East Anglia farming system. The Suffolk sheep came from the Norfolk Horn ewes along with Southdown rams. They are known as “black faces” due to their appearance and distinctive black coloured face. Suffolk sheep can adapt to any environment with their features of hard back feet and strength. We chose Suffolk sheep at Bachlaw because of their gentle and tameness which benefits handling them by the young people. They also fit the popular image of sheep, so they were a must have!
Belted Galloway Cows
Belted Galloway Cows arrived at Bachlaw in August 2016. The Belted Galloway’s appealed to us because they are a distinctive breed of cattle. They stand out in appearance and are known for their hardiness, managing to survive in any climate they are faced with. They originate from the Galloway Hills in the South West of Scotland in the tough climate. They adapt well to wet, cold winters and boggy soft terrain, just like the North-East of Scotland! They have both great outer and under coats to keep them warm in the rain and cold weather. The average life span of this breed is in the twenties, producing calves until late on.
As of September 2017, we have 5 cows. They are excited just now as they have Roy the bull for a few weeks, and they are hoping to have calves next summer!
Soay Sheep – Where it all started for Bachlaw Smallholding…
In the Spring of 2016 we decided that we would bring some rare breed sheep to our 33 acres of land at Upper Seaview. We felt that bringing animals to Bachlaw Projects would bring a new dimension to our offering here at the project and they duly arrived in July and August 2015. It has enabled us to expand our work experience offering to our young people, as they can now become involved in animal husbandry. This project has been immensely popular and the excitement of the lambs arriving has been a constant source of conversation and delight with the young people choosing names for all the new lambs. We have 16 ewes and 15 lambs as of April 2016.
So why did we choose Soay Sheep and what is it about them that appealed to us?
Soay sheep originate from an island called Soay, which is located in the St Kilda group. Its means “island sheep” in Norse and would suggest that there were sheep on the island since the Vikings. In 1932, two years after the last human inhabitants left the island of Hirta, 107 Soay sheep were transported to the island to live a feral existence . This was successful and there are now in excess of 1500 sheep on the island today, the population are part of an ongoing scientific study researching evolution, population dynamics and demography. Soay sheep have been imported to the mainland, however they remain a rare breed on the mainland.
They are the most primitive looking of all the breeds of sheep, being very athletic with a look of a Gazelle about them. Soay sheep are exceptionally hardy and can survive in the most adverse conditions. The ewes typically weigh around 25kg and the rams around 40kg and are brown in colour ranging from tan to chocolate in hue. They have lighter patches around the eyes, jaws, rump and under the belly. Soay sheep are known for general resistance to most health problems that affect the more developed breeds. During lambing season, which is April and May, they require little assistance to “lamb” and can also shed their own fleeces. Ewes can produce lambs up to the age of 10-12 years, the lambs are small but are born easily and are quick to rise and feed after. This was all taken into consideration in our decision to go with a flock of Soay sheep, as they required much less intervention and were a great starting place for us.
All of our sheep are registered with the Rare Breeds Society Trust and our young people are involved not only in their care, but take great delight in showing them at local agricultural shows and winning rosettes!
For more information on the animals that we have, please see their websites below.
Soay Sheep – https://www.rbst.org.uk/Rare-and-Native-Breeds/Sheep
Scottish Blackface Sheep – http://www.scottish-blackface.co.uk/
Suffolk Sheep – http://www.suffolksheep.org/
Belted Galloway Cows – http://www.beltedgalloways.co.uk/