Gregory is a rare breed Balwen Welsh Mountain Ram. The Balwen sheep are on the at risk list on the rare breeds survival trust watchlist. There are less then 1500 Balwens left in the UK.
Rare Breed Sheep
Sheep were first domesticated in the Middle East. Sheep are descended from Asiatic Moufflon, the Urial wild Sheep and the bog horned Argali. Their ancestors lived in rocky upland areas so they are more susceptible to problems such as respiratory complaints and footrot. This is why native breeds who have evolved to adapt to the UK climate are less susceptible to these health problems. With resistance to antibiotics increasing and footrot a severe problem, hardy native breeds could have an important part to play in the future. Sheep have now spread to all parts of the world and have been bred for many different purposes, for their wool, meat and milk.
Balwen Welsh Mountain Sheep
Balwen's are very hardy and able to survive on sparse upland grazing and in harsh conditions and are considered a docile breed. They are resistant to footrot and have few flystrike problems. The Balwen was originally developed in the Tywi Valley in central Wales and remained confined to the surrounding area for many years. When much of the Balwen’s native grazing land was planted with coniferous trees, the population declined. Many failed to survive the severe winter of 1947 as a result of which their numbers fell from several thousand to the point where only one breeding ram remained. The breed has now become widespread and much in demand as a smallholder’s sheep.The name Balwen means “white blaze” in Welsh. Traditionally, Welsh mountain farmers bred flocks with distinctive markings to make them easily identifiable. The wool is used in hand spinning and knitwear. Balwen Welsh Mountain Sheep are on the minority watch list of the Rare Breeds Survival Trust.