New sheep breed is proving popular in NI

Dutch Spotted lambs from the 2017 society import.
Dutch Spotted lambs from the 2017 society import.

A new breed of sheep introduced to the UK is proving to be spot on.

The Dutch Spotted Sheep is the latest breed to come into the UK, mainly from its native country, The Netherlands.

This attractive looking and strikingly marked sheep with an impressive commercial carcass has attracted a lot of positive attention since its arrival on these shores.

First seen in the UK in 2015, two separate individuals were responsible for importing them. The initial group of purchasers then formed a society called Dutch Spotted Sheep UK and became the founder members of this now fast-growing society.

The trustees or committee of Dutch Spotted Sheep UK [also known as DSS(UK)] very quickly moved this society through all the official channels, gaining charity status, DEFRA approval and finally becoming the National Sheep Association’s (NSA) affiliated and official breed society for The Dutch Spotted Sheep, now also a recognised pedigree breed within the UK.

Now just over one year old, the fledgling society DSS(UK) is growing by the day with the membership and flock book expanding with great promise.

With many events (including the first breed sale, pure breed classes at major shows and another society import of sheep) in the pipeline for DSS(UK) and The Dutch Spotted Sheep, 2018/19 is shaping up to be a very exciting time for this new breed and its breeders.

The history of The Dutch Spotted Sheep dates back to around 1880.

Generations of farmers and old documentation confirm that Dutch Spotted Sheep were originally kept in an area in the western part of Holland; roughly in the area between the cities of Leiden, Utrecht and Rotterdam.

During the 17th - 19th centuries, farmers and authorities required a hardy breed of sheep to maintain the grass on the newly reclaimed low embankments (quays) and in later stages the sheep played an important part in transforming the peat bog into sod, which was eventually strong enough to carry cows.

The sheep had to be able to walk long distances (due to the length of these connected embankments) and also be able to withstand the acidic PH level of the peat bogs.

During the 1950s, farmers started making use of the specific qualities of the original Dutch spotted sheep and, with careful breeding (sometimes crossing with other breeds, such as the Texel or Zwartbles), a sheep with greater profitability and benefits along with the characteristics of the modern day Dutch Spotted Sheep was evolved.

During the last 20 years, The Dutch Spotted Sheep has been classed as a pure sheep in their own right and this is the sheep that is becoming so intriguing within Holland, Europe and now the UK and Ireland.

The popularity of The Dutch Spotted Sheep rocketed last year within the UK after this breed was seen to be winning consistently within the showring and being snapped up by experienced pedigree and commercial breeders.

Members of the society have also been trialing the Dutch Spotted Sheep on a vast range of other breeds. Early results would indicate this breed is a serious contender as an alternative terminal sire.

Attributes such as their quality carcass, high milk yield, easy lambing, hard feet, mobility and easy temperament are interesting both pedigree and commercial breeders with crossbred prime lambs being sold at a premium this year across the country.

With butchers reporting the meat is of quality and unique taste, the Dutch Spotted Sheep is certainly making its mark on this side of the water.

To ensure The Dutch Spotted Sheep secures its place within the UK, the official society, Dutch Spotted Sheep UK, have been carefully selecting quality genetics and bloodlines to import as the foundation or baseline pedigrees.

Due to the high interest in the breed and society, DSS(UK) are now appointing area representatives to help and advise anyone wishing more information on the breed or indeed to reserve sheep via the official society import.

Dutch Spotted Sheep UK also has the first official breed sale arranged at H&H Carlisle on the 31st August, 2018 where members will also be showcasing several different crossbred sheep within the society breed stand.

For any more information on the breed or the society import; Visit the website: www.dutchspottedsheep.co.uk, Email: office@dutchspottedsheep.co.uk, Call: 07712577337 (Pam Parker, society secretary)