About Boreray Sheep

The Boreray originated on the island of Boreray which is in the St. Kilda group. The breed was developed during the late 19th century from Scottish Blackface and a Hebridean type of Old Scottish Shortwool. The breed has been largely feral since 1930.

Toward the end of the 19th century the ubiquitous blackface sheep were kept on Hirta and Boreray. The islanders cleared Hirta of sheep when they departed in 1930 but those on Boreray, some 6km to the northeast and difficult to access at the best of times, were abandoned to their fate. With dark collars and white or tan markings they look like a cross between Soay sheep (the true St Kildan sheep) and blackface sheep, but in fact they are survivors of a cross between early blackface and the old Scottish short wool sheep that still survive on North Ronaldsay in Orkney and in the Shetland Islands.

Both Soay and Boreray lambs withstand cold and wet better than commercial sheep but freely make use of shelter in the bad weather. They are also skilled climbers and are very agile.

Boreray are a small short-tailed primitive breed which stand approximately 55cm at the withers. An average mature Boreray ewe weighs approximately 30kg. They naturally shed their fleece in the spring under normal breeding conditions. Most Boreray are a creamy white colour with various black, tan or speckled markings on the face and legs and sometimes also on the body and shoulders. A few dark animals occur. The face varies from black and white to greyish, with a few completely black, tan or white.

Lambing usually takes place in late March/early April and is usually trouble free. Boreray ewes normally bear single lambs although twins do sometimes occur. Boreray are excellent mothers and are fiercely protective of their young. Lambs are extremely active within hours of birth. Boreray will thrive on poor pastures with little supplementary feeding necessary except during particularly harsh conditions