Hefted Yorkshire Sheep

Sheep being taken to the shearing in Nidderdale

Sheep being taken to the shearing in Nidderdale, near Gouthwaite reservoir

There are more sheep than people in this part of Yorkshire. Sheep farming is a staple of the Yorkshire Dales and plays a role in shaping the countryside of Yorkshire.

Take care to shut gates when walking through the Yorkshire Dales. Also take care when driving, sheep are easily scared and have a funny habit of running away towards you. E.g. if they see you cycling on rather than run in the opposite direction they will run across your path before scampering away.


Hefted Breeds in Yorkshire

Swaledale sheep are found throughout Yorkshire and the northern counties of England. The Rough Fell breed roams the Howgill Fells around  Sedbergh, Tebay and up to Shap .  Scottish Blackface sheep or “Blackies” live on the roughest and highest part of the farm. Living high on moorland and fell in a small area or ‘Heft’ gives rise to the name Hefting or Hefted.

A  hefted flock  consists of sheep which have been bred for generations on the same piece of land to the extent that they instinctively return to this land. They are free to roam without elaborate fences and they are  likely that theyto know where the best shelter is in bad weather and where the best seasonal ground can be found.

Lambs usually learn their heft from their mothers but new flocks can learn the basics from a ‘Hefted farmer’.

Lamb growing up

This lamb is a couple of months old and will soon be ‘ready for the pot’ so to speak

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