5 Fun Facts About Herdwick Sheep

03 December 2021 by Rachel Wilson

5 Fun Facts About Herdwick Sheep

If you have been lucky enough to visit the Lake District, you’ll know that Herdwick sheep are icons of the Cumbrian landscape. Their cute, inquisitive personalities make them very popular with tourists, but did you know this about them?

  1. Great sense of direction - Herdwicks have the ability to find their native pastures and this is what farmer’s call being “heafed”. This means they can roam freely on the fells but also find their way back if they stray too far.
  2. Herdwick lambs are born black - Like humans, they will go grey as they grow older and lighter shades of grey as their wool is sheared.
  3. Gardeners of the Lake District - Herdwick sheep are tremendous at eating and keep the Cumbrian fells heavily trimmed as they eat every type of vegetation including grass, heather and even young trees.
  4. Female Herdwicks don't have horns - Only male Herdwicks also known as Rams have long curly horns.
  5. Beatrix Potter was a Herdwick farmer - She wasn’t just an author, she was also a talented farmer and cared deeply about the tradition of Herdwick breeding. When she passed away, she left fifteen farms amounting to almost 4,000 acres to the National Trust on the understanding they continued to breed the native sheep.

A trip to the Lake District is not complete without seeing our local fluffy friends. 99% of the population live in the central and western fells, so it’s hard to miss them.

The Herdwick Gang © Steve Barber

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