Our Lambs come from farms in both the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District where they are free to graze on the stunning landscapes all year round. We use a variety of breeds we believe give the best quality, flavoursome and succulent meat.
From where we take our name, Swaledales are originally from the picturesque region in the Yorkshire Dales with the same name. With its distinctive spiralled horns and black face with a white nose, it is a common site in the Dales – indeed it is used as the logo for the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Often used to graze marginal upland land, the Swaledale is often crossed with a more commercial breed to create a ‘mule’. A hardy breed with improved confirmation, Swaledale mules can be the most flavoursome lamb we work with.
One of the largest and heaviest of all sheep breeds, the Wensleydale has long, ringlet-like locks of wool. It is categorized as “at risk” by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust of the UK as it has fewer than 1500 registered breeding females
Pronounced ‘Clyn’, these diminutive lambs are named after the Lleyn peninsula in North Wales, although they have their origins in Ireland. They are docile, excellent mothers, and produce excellent milk and wool. They are equally at home on the fells and on lowland grazing, making them a great sheep for the smallholder – the meat is also excellent.
Native to the Dorset Downs region of England, the breed originated in the early 19th Century. They are medium-sized, robust sheep with dark faces and short wool. Prior to the importation of Continental breeds like the Texel, the Dorset Down was a popular breed in the United Kingdom, but today it is listed as a minority breed by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust.
Hebrideans are one of the few breeds of sheep to have black wool rather than the usual white, they originate in the Hebredes. Hebrideans are hardy and able to thrive on rough grazing, and so are often used as conservation grazing animals to maintain natural grassland or heathland habitats. They are particularly effective at scrub control, and this varied diet of different grasses and heathers certainly inform the flavour of the meat, which is dark and herby, and is highly prized here at Swaledale Foods.
The Jacob is descended from an ancient, primitive form of sheep, although its exact origins remain unclear. It has a distinctive colouring of dark brown and white spots. One legend says that the Jacob washed ashore from shipwrecks in England after the destruction of the Spanish Armada in 1588. Despite the fact that there is little if any reliable evidence to support this claim, the Jacob was referred to as the “Spanish sheep” for much of its early recorded history. Although similar in size to the Hebridean, Jacob meat is lighter in flavour and colour, though equally delicious.
One of the largest breed of sheep, the Suffolk is a black faced sheep originating in the south of England. The Suffolk is a slightly more commercial native breed, a result of crossing South Down rams with Norfolk Horned ewes. They have a large frame, excellent confirmation and an excellent eye piece on the loin or chop – they have been exported from Britain to every continent in the world.
Native to the Lake District is the Herdwick. The root word of the breed’s name, herdvyck, “sheep pasture”, is recorded in documents dating back to the 12th century. The origin of the breed itself is unknown, but the most common theory is that the ancestors of Herdwick sheep were introduced by early Norse settlers. They were made famous by Beatrix Potter, who had a love for the breed and was the society president for a time. Upon her death in 1943, she bequeathed fifteen farms – approximately a total sum of 4,000 acres – to the National Trust, as per her instructions all continue to graze Herdwick flocks.