Alex Barker – Guild of Food Writers says:
“The meat from Hebridean sheep is unique. It has a rich, dark colour, succulent tender texture, and a gamey, utterly delicious flavour… It is tender with a really good bite, and rich but doesn’t leave that greasy, fatty taste in the mouth. And it is so full of flavour that some of the young tasters couldn’t believe it really is lamb.”
The Hebridean sheep is an ancient breed originating in Scotland and descended from stock brought over from Scandinavia by the Vikings. These wild hardy sheep have not been modified by artificial selection. Their dietary preferences are different from those of other breeds and they are used as conservation grazing animals to maintain natural grassland and heathland habitats.
Although declared as a breed in danger of extinction by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust in the 1970s their numbers have increased to about 5000 today. A report by the RBST showed that the Hebridean produces a high level of lean meat (58.2%) and low subcutaneous fat (7.1%). Hebridean meat had a lower level of cholesterol and a higher level of healthy linoleic and linoleic fatty acids than a Suffolk.
The Southdown, the oldest of the terminal sire breeds in Britain, originates from the native sheep that roamed the South Downs in Southern England for hundreds of years. The breed has been responsible for the development of many of the native terminal sire breeds, including the Suffolk, the Hampshire Down and in France the Charollais. The Southdown’s ability to produce high quality lamb has led it to be recognised as the king among terminal sires. Research from Easton college on cross bred lamb performance from Southdown, Texel and Suffolk rams found that the Southdown cross lambs have a large proportion of meat in the high value cuts and achieved better confirmation scores than any other breed. Sophie has selected and bred EBLEX top performance recorded rams to ensure a quality lamb with fine confirmation and a high-grade carcass.
The Romney originates in the low-lying marshes of Kent and Sussex. They are exceptionally hardy sheep, good mothers with excellent demi-lustre wool that is considered one of the best of the British breeds.
The breed is found in many parts of the world, adapting itself to various climates and altitudes, and thriving on grazing which differs greatly from that found in its original habitat. The exceptional adaptability of the breed is a characteristic of immense practical and commercial value.
The Cheviot comes from the border between England and Scotland. In 1372 they were described as ‘small, very hardy and race over large tracts of the Cheviot Hills’.
Originally prized for their wool that was incomparable in making the durable ‘tweeds’.
This hardy sheep with strong mothering instincts produces exceptional quality lambs.