Heritage Dorset Sheep Breeds on The Chedington Estate
The Dorset Horn is an endangered breed of domestic sheep. It originated here in Dorset, and was subsequently exported to Australia, South Africa and the United States. It is documented from the seventeenth century and is the only breed capable of breeding throughout the winter, and can produce two lambing seasons per year.
The Chedington Estate introduced this heritage breed of sheep back to the estate in 2021. Shepherd Marcus comments ‘With the versatility of the breed, being able to lamb multiple times and out of ‘normal’ season, they are a great breed to work alongside our farming system. We currently have 15 horned ewes and a horned ram on the estate.’
The Poll Dorset, was developed in Australia between the 1930’s and 1950’s from the Dorset Horn breed. The aim was to develop a true Dorset type sheep but without horns. Some of the main distinguishing features, other than the lack of horns, include its lean square body, short legs, pink skin and 'spongy' down type wool. Ewes are noted for their high fertility, mothering and milking ability. The breed has no particular breeding period, meaning they have the ability to breed all year round and multiple births of twins and triplets are quite common. There are currently 75 polled ewes and 90 ewe lambs on the estate. With a view to building up to around 250 breeding ewes. We aim to lamb the bulk of the Dorset’s in September so that the lamb will be ready to sell for Easter.
The main bulk of the flock here on the estate at the moment is the Clun Forest sheep. We believe it to be the biggest Clun flock in Dorset with around 240 breeding ewes here at Chedington. The Clun Forest breed takes its name from the town of Clun and the surrounding forest areas in Shropshire on the border of Wales.
Before there was a trend for continental and cross-breeding, the clun peaked as the most popular breed of sheep in the UK. With it’s low maintenance, good quality wool, and easy lambing it’s a great choice of breed, and we’re very happy to have them here in our corner of the South West.