Tag Archives: Scottish breeds of sheep

Soay sheep fight bracken

A flock of sheep has been drafted in to try and stop the spread of bracken at Pow Hill Country Park on the Northumberland and County Durham border. Bracken is poisonous to local breeds but Soay sheep, descendants of a feral population on the Scottish island of Soay, are immune and nibble away at the base of the plant. Bracken is spreading across these moors and killing rare plants such as bog asphodel, lesser skullcap, and marsh violets. BBC

See also the superbly titled Soays get crackin’ on the bracken (above photo)

The Swaledale sheep that are native to the hills and farms of the North Pennines steer clear of bracken – but the small flock of Soays that has been drafted in to wage the war against the fiendish fronds just love to feed on the bracken’s stalks.

Incredible shrinking sheep

Global warming is leading to a reduction in size of a breed of wild sheep on Hirta, St Kilda. Scientists say milder winters are helping smaller Soay sheep to survive. This goes against classic evolutionary theory which predicts that wild sheep gradually get bigger, as the stronger, larger animals survive into adulthood and reproduce. The researchers found that the local environment had a stronger effect on the animals than the Continue reading Incredible shrinking sheep