Sheep and Conservation

Heritage breed sheep

Land throughout England has been shaped by traditional agricultural through the centuries. This is especially true on pasture lands where animals were once sent out to graze the grasses. Sheep, cattle, and other livestock transformed their surroundings and affected what plants and animals were able to flourish on the land.


In recent decades, however, agricultural practices have changed and fewer animals are grazed. As a result, lands are changing and the flora and fauna are being threatened as a result of undergrazing. Fortunately, throughout England in National Nature Reserves, local County Wildlife sites, and even on private lands flocks of sheep (and other animals) are used for conservation grazing.


These animals are left to graze on a piece of land for several weeks. The sheep eat the more aggressive weeds and scrub like nettle and keep the grasses down, which helps maintain the land’s biodiversity.  (There are quite a few other reasons why conservation grazing is good, which you can read here.)

What’s even better, is that some of these flocks are made up of heritage breeds of sheep including Hebridean, Beulah Speckled Face, and Norfolk Horn. The Nude Ewe, a non-profit wool company, has partnered with the owners of these heritage flocks to help keep them funded. The Nude Ewe sells the undyed, unbleached wool from the conservation sheep as roving, yarn, and in kits, and the money from these products is given back to the flock owners.

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Christina Garton

About Christina Garton

I'm Associatet Editor for Handwoven where I get to interact daily with all sorts of wonderfully creative people. I'm obsessed with twill and weaving dishtowels, although I'm also in love with deflected doubleweave. When I'm not weaving twill towels, I love to try out new fibers and structures and blog about it as I go!

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