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5 Things You Didn’t Know About Herdwick Sheep

21st January 2020


We do our best to protect our heritage and stay true to the Lake District roots of our herdysleep range, which means we love supporting local British farmers and the rural economy. So, in celebration of our love for the great British farm, we couldn’t help but share a few fun facts about our native Herdwick sheep!

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1 – Herdwick lambs are born with black fleeces, and it’s not until they’re about a year old that the wool on their heads grows out, revealing the fluffy white hair underneath! Over time, their fleeces turn to a dark brown and then to their characteristic grey, but their heads remain white.

2 – When sheared, a typical Herdwick fleece weighs between 2-3kg and at least one full fleece is used to create each of our herdysleep snuggle-worthy mattresses – this certainly keeps the Lake District farmers busy during the summer months when shearing season is in full swing.

3 – Beatrix Potter is known to have been one of the saviours of the Herdwicks. She bought fell farms in the Lake District (preventing development on the land) and carefully bred the sheep across her 4,000 acres under guidance of the National Trust, helping bring the breed out of its threatened status. To this day, Lakeland fell farming and the Herdwick sheep remain central to the region’s economy and culture.

Herdwick Rams

4 – Herdwick sheep are the ‘gardeners’ of the Lake District and are vital to the maintenance of the landscape we know and love. They enjoy grazing on a wide range of plants across the vast acres of the fells – everything from heather to bilberry and bracken, which keeps the scenery in check.

5 – Herdwick lambs stay with their mothers and graze close to their farm so they can learn where it is they call ‘home’ – and where not to stray too far from! Farmers call this being “heafed” to the fell, something that has been bred into them over hundreds of years. This is why the breed is said to be irreplaceable – other sheep would wander up the fells and not know to come back down!