Created | Updated Aug 3, 2005
The Blackface sheep is the most common hill breed in Scotland. They are extremely hardy and can survive in the harsh climate associated with the hills of Scotland. All Blackface sheep have horns and have black and white legs and face. The fleece should be completely white. Their wool is mainly used to make carpets or mattresses.
When kept on the hill, Blackface ewes will stay within an area that they will get to know very well (this is called hefting). They will know the best area to find shelter, and the best area to find good grass. The ewe will pass this information on to her daughters. It is not recommended to buy in flock replacements for hill farms as the sheep may get lost, or die in the extreme weather as they do not know where to find shelter.
Blackface sheep are bred pure to produce flock replacements or small carcass weight lambs, generally for the European market. The Blackface ewes are often crossed with a sire such as a Border Leicester or Continental sire to produce ewes that are very prolific and will produce lambs for the meat market. Blackface ewes are also crossed with terminal sires such as the Suffolk to produce a quality prime lamb.
In hill environments, Blackface ewes will normally produce one lamb per year, on a lowland farm with good grazing they regularly produce twins, with triplets not being uncommon.