|Castlemilk Moorit Sheep |
(photo:RBST Caledonian Support Group)
In my search for the rarer kind of sheep breeds I have come across the story of the Castlemilk Moorit sheep. First I read about them and then, when I saw what they looked like and what their fleece was like , well, I was sold.
Castlemilk Moorit sheep are the cutest most feisty little things. The Castlemilk Moorit sheep breed take their name from the Castlemilk estate in Dumfriesshire, where they originated in the early 1900s. They were originally bred to provide meat, wool to make clothing for the estate workers, and also to prance around the parklands of the estate. They are graceful, elegant sheep with fine, kemp-free wool, which is mid honey brown (moorit is a Scottish word for brown) at the base and bleached to a fawn colour at the tips.
Castlemilk Moorit sheep have some Manx Loghtan sheep and mouflon sheep breed ancestry and have retained the interesting mouflon markings of white underbelly, lower jaw, knee, eye markings (‘spectacles’) and a white rump patch. They are also feisty and pretty fast!
Once clipped they look totally different – almost like deer – as they revert to the dark brown colour for a few weeks, until the growing fleece bleaches back to fawn at the tips. At one point in the early 1970s Castlemilk Moorits were reduced to only around 12 individuals and could easily have simply ‘disappeared’. However, those few remaining were rescued in two groups, including six ewes and two rams which were taken to Cotswold Farm Park. All of today’s Castlemilks, which include around 700 registered females, are descended from these two small groups.
In the past couple of years the breed has been downlisted from the ‘Endangered’ to the ‘Vulnerable” category on the RBST watchlist – a big success.
|Cute Castlemilk Moorit lambs|
4th barrier island from the top right of the picture
|lambs with their mum|
As with everything the way that you scour and process the fibre is very important. The fleece of the castlemilk moorit ranges from 28 to 32 microns and the staple length is about 6 cms. The outer edges of the staple are often bleached by the sun and the locks often have a pointy tip. I find it very easy to spin. It reminds me of Manx Loughtan but definitely finer and softer. It is not that easy to get hold of this quality fibre so I only have a limited amount, but it is oh so worth it !
Have a fun snaffle !!!
Castlemilk Moorit Sheep Tops
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