Shropshire Star

Day for Clun sheep breed will return

A group of sheep farmers are spearheading a drive to bring a breed back home in a major style.

Clun Forest Sheep Breeders Society chairwoman Steph Thackery with secretary Sue Scrivens and Harold Marsh, with some of Steph's registered Clun Sheep. Pic: Lillian Tomlinson

A day promoting the Clun Forest Sheep in the town the breed gets it name from has been such a success that the group behind it hope to make it an annual event.

Clun Forest Sheep Breeders Society, based in south Shropshire, put on a fun day for families and the farming community to show off the charms of what was once the most popular breed in the UK a generation ago, in the hopes of helping along a resurgence in interest – particularly in the sheep's are of origin.

Today Clun Forest Sheep can be found worldwide but numbers in south Shropshire are now pretty small.

The society is now trying to reverse that trend, having recently held the first "Clun Forest Sheep Fun Day" at Clun's Memorial Hall.

Steph Thackery, chairwoman of the society, said: "Ryan Davies of Clun Memorial Hall approached us last year and together we wanted to put Clun Forest Sheep back in its homeland.

"It's a breed that has not been greatly represented in numbers in the area recently but it was historically hugely significant."

The society was formed in 1925 to promote the breed throughout the sheep industry, and incorporated with the Board of Trade in 1947.

Clun sheep spread all over the country and were also exported throughout Europe, Africa and North America, and became the most popular breed in the county until the current fashion for hybrids and continental breeds took over.

Steph said: "However in the current age of austerity and people demanding value for money, the Clun is a breed for the current economic climate.

"There was a reason your grandfather had Cluns – their quality of meat and the ability to produce it off grass alone, with low costs and good profit margins.

"If you want a sheep that is low input, easy lambing, easy to manage, has quality wool and an ability to thrive anywhere in the UK then look no further."

She said the day was held to raise the profile of the sheep in south Shropshire again – and have a bit of fun.

"This fun day was held as a way to encourage would be breeders and exhibitors to have a go," she said.

"It was very informal but showed people how to check their feet and teeth and how best to exhibit them.

"It's the first of what we hope will be many such days. It was extremely well received and we hope we will be repeating it," she added.

The society will be holding its annual breed show and sale at McCartneys auctioneers in Ludlow on September 8.