The Kendal Rough Fell sheep, more commonly know simply as the ‘Rough’ is the local breed of sheep of the Howgill Fells and the area that lies between the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District mountains. The Rough Fell is the largest of Britain’s native hill breeds, originally bred by local farmers to provide coarse, durable wool suitable for carpets and mattresses. They are generally found in the Orton-Tebay-Sedbergh area and are easily recognised by their horns, long white fleeces and distinctive speckled faces and legs. The sheep are grazed on the open fellsides, and are born with a ‘hefting’ instinct that ensures they do not stray far from their ‘home’ patch.
The breed has been identified as severely at risk due to it’s geographic isolation, with over 95% of Rough Fell sheep existing in an area of some 12 square miles. This isolation was almost disastrous in the 2001 foot and mouth outbreak, when the disease wiped out most of the young females retained for breeding and away at wintering in the Eden Valley near Penrith, and came within a few miles of the open Howgill fells. Our motive in acquiring a small flock of Roughs was to provide a small pool of breeding stock away from their home range, and we have found them to be exceptionally easy to manage, placid, superb mothers and also keen conservation grazers alongside our Hebrideans. For more information visit www.roughfellsheep.co.uk
There is a Rough Fell Sheep Association in-lamb ewe sale at Kendal Auction Market on Saturday 29th January.