Black Welsh Mountain sheep are a primitive breed of small, hardy black sheep introduced to the USA in 1972 from the UK. The breed originated in the mountains of Wales where the flocks were mostly white. It was not until the 19th century when Welsh shepherds began to select the black sheep for their gorgeous, reddish, deep brown fleece, or gwlan cochddu (red black wool in Welsh) that the Black Welsh Mountain sheep was recognized as a breed. Today the breed is sought after by hand spinners and weavers for its beautiful, lustrous and durable fleece. No dyeing is necessary to bring out the natural richness of the color.

Black Welsh Mountain sheep have retained the genetic characteristics of a primitive breed because of their origins in the isolated mountains of Wales. They have required very little human input to retain and carry on the genetic characteristics of the breed. Because many primitive breeds live in these isolated mountain areas, they have become endangered. In recent years, a major effort has been underway to preserve the breed. They are now classified as a recovering or conservation breed by the Livestock Breeds Conservancy. However, there are still fewer than 1,000 registrations on only 30 farms throughout the United States. The global population stands at fewer than 5,000.

Many characteristics of the breed make Black Welsh Mountain sheep an ideal breed for the small farm holder where sustainability is paramount. Because of the harshness of their original mountainous terrain, they are hardy and self-reliant making them excellent foragers in all types of pastures. The females have excellent maternal instincts. Even first time mothers are very self-sufficient, requiring little human intervention. Lambs are generally quick to their feet and quite robust. They grow quickly, with ewes reaching a mature weight of around 100 lbs and rams weighing in at around 130-145 lbs.

Black Welsh Mountain sheep produce a succulent, mild flavored meat, making it a premium meat in many markets. The excellent quality of their meat and the superiority of their fleece, combined with their hardiness and self-reliance, make this dual breed a natural choice for small farm holders.

Black Welsh Mountain Sheep Ram
Black Welsh Mountain Sheep Ewes

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