Soay are unlike any other sheep, being the most primitive with very varied characteristics plus a history that evokes a romanticism back to the Bronze Age. They are similar to the mouflon seen wild in Corsica, Sardinia and Cyprus, but in the UK exist as a feral population on the St Kilda group of islands off western Scotland, and are increasingly popular in parkland and smallholders’ flocks.. They are intelligent, nimble animals with excellent mothering habits, and lots of fun to watch. Their small carcass produces lean meat of a delicious flavour fetching premium prices for the gourmet trade.
Soay sheep are fine-boned and late maturing, with prominent withers. The tail is short and thin. The texture of their wool can vary, from soft fine wool to more coarse hairy fibres. The fleece is usually dark brown or tan in colour, commonly with the ‘mouflon’ pattern of white under-belly and around the tail, although self-coloured, black, and white-marked variations do occur. The fleece is normally shed naturally.
Rams are two-horned and the horns are strong. Scurred rams (rams with small or rather weak horns) have been observed on the island of Hirta, and occur occasionally in sheep owners’ flocks. Ewes are either two-horned, polled, or scurred.
Soay sheep are classified as “vulnerable” on the RBST survival watch list.
We keep just a small number of Soay sheep, and aim to keep a range of types including both the light and dark mouflon colour variations, white marked animals and both horned and polled ewes. Our Saoy sheep are registered in the RBST Combined Flock Book.