My Favourite Breed
Debbie Kingsley talks to Charlotte and Anthony Barnes about their Castlemilk Moorits
Castlemilk Moorit sheep
We’ve both just turned 50 and been married for 21 years,” says Andrew (Barney) Barnes. “Charlotte’s a hairdresser and I’m a painter and decorator. We live just outside a small village called Ockbrook between Derby and Nottingham. Having moved out of the town 12 years ago, it became a bit of a life changing experience. First came our two dogs, Monty and Jem, then came the chickens, and then came two pigs. Then came the realisation that the fence should have come before the pigs; all a learning curve. We are not from a farming background but it is something we both wish we had found a few years earlier.
“It all started over five years ago. Our daughter Sophie was at agricultural college and did a night of lambing which probably changed her direction in life, and ours. We sat down one night and decided that it would be a good idea for Sophie to get some livestock of her own. Getting to know a few farmers in the area with available land was the first hurdle. It took a few visits to various farmers before we were able to agree a grazing licence for four areas of rough ground, which was a start. Next was to choose a breed of sheep. Having an interest in conservation, we chose to see what was on the Rare Breeds Survival Trust list. Up came the Castlemilk Moorit, a small breed, easy lambing, good feet, no docking of tails required, and easy to handle. Decision made, we searched the web and found six ewes for sale from a good bloodline and quite local (well, only three hours away). Next came the ram. Again, it was back to the web, and up came Callum, a lovely ram with a bloodline that went well with the girls, so off we went and had a look and came back with our handsome ram, the beginning of our Keyshill Flock.
A hardy primitive breed
“All went well and lambing time came. Even though we only had six girls lambing it was a case of sit back and watch, with not one needing assistance; talk about a hardy primitive breed and the Castlemilk Moorit is it. They lamb easily and are excellent mothers. This year lambing was 180% with two ewes having a set of triplets and successfully rearing the lambs themselves. I must admit they are quite cute lambs but
Being a hardy primitive breed makes the Castlemilk Moorit particularly suitable for smallholders
During the early part of the 20th century, Sir Jock Buchanan-Jardine began a sheep breeding programme on his Castlemilk Estate in Dumfriesshire. Using Manx Loghtan, moorit Shetland and wild Mouflon, he developed a breed to beautify his parkland and provide fine, kemp free moorit coloured wool. On his death in 1970 the majority of the flock was culled and a few dispersed, including six ewes and a ram bought by Joe Henson at the Cotswold Farm Park. All of today’s Castlemilk Moorits are descended from these few sheep. The Castlemilk Moorit is one of the larger primitive type breeds with mature ewes weighing in the region of 40kgs and rams 55kgs. The head is clean and level between the ears. The ewes exhibit two uniform and wide spreading horns which are much heavier and evenly spiralled in the rams, avoiding the cheeks. The neck should be well set on the shoulders following on to a straight back and well sprung ribs; the tail is naturally short and narrow. Both sexes should be upstanding on clean fine-boned legs, with naturally small feet. Its whole appearance is graceful and well balanced; they are extremely agile and fleet footed.
Charlotte Barnes and a prizewinning Castlemilk Moorit
Shy but inquisitive...