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About the breed

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British Galway sheep thrive on pasture

Breed Characteristics

Whether purebred or in crossbreeding programs, the British Galway offers traits which allow them to thrive on a range of pasture types, adapt readily to changing climate conditions and remain docile and easily managed. The breed are noted for their hardiness and longevity - ewes display tremendous mothering qualities, whilst rams crossed onto a continental ewe will produce very saleable butchers lambs with good conformation.

 

The Fleece

The Galway is white in colour and has a moderately long fleece, close and fine textured with a broad staple. A typical adult ewes fleece should weigh approximately 3kg to 3.5kg, these fine fleeces also being very popular with hand spinners.

Mutton Revival

As well as the production of delicious lamb, there will also be the odd barren ewe in the flock from time to time, and that is where the delicious taste of mutton comes into its own. If she doesn’t breed as a shearling we always give a second chance, but if that doesn’t work there is nothing as succulent as a two shear or more mutton joint cooked slowly so that all the flavour is contained. Try it - we are sure you will agree!

Welfare

Our breeders believe that the welfare of their sheep is of utmost importance, making sure that they are fed and cared for to a high standard. By knowing where they have grazed and what they have eaten, in turn we know that the meat we are eating is natural and healthy.

Sweater made from undyed British Galway fleece

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Robert Bakwell of Dishley Grange, Leics

History - Robert Bakewell

It is believed that in the 18th Century, Robert Bakewell of Dishley Grange near Loughborough, Leicestershire sent some of his Leicester rams over to Ireland to 'improve' the Roscommon sheep, which is believed to be the forerunner of the modern-day Galway. Some say non-payment of these rams led to his bankruptcy from which he was rescued by subscriptions of well wishers!

Formation of the Galway Sheep Breeders' Society

In 1922, a committee was formed in Athenry, Co. Galway, the meeting of which gave rise to the Galway Sheep Breeders' Society. The first volume of the flock book reports on the inspection of over 6000 ewes and 200 rams in 1923. Of these, approximately 600 ewes and 20 rams were admitted to the flock book following inspection, and it was this selection which were chosen as the foundation stock of this pedigree breed.

Introduction of the breed into the UK

A selection of breeding sheep were introduced into Britain in 1990, sourced from seven of the top flocks in the West of Ireland. Two further consignments were introduced later in the 1990s, adding tremendously to the existing gene pool and it is from these first imports - along with occasional injections of breeding stock from Ireland - from which the breed thrives today.

A hardy type

Originally bred where the terrain is craggy, the British Galway have very few foot problems, seemingly able to cope with different types of ground and pasture. A sheep naturally suited to living out in all weathers, their hardy origins continue to be of benefit to breeders wanting to make the most of varying land types.

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Galway sheep were introduced to the UK in 1990

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