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College flock helps revive rare breed


Spring lambs are helping to ensure the future for a rare breed of Irish sheep.

The 50 Galway sheep at Nottingham Trent University’s Brackenhurst campus are among only about 350 of the breed left in mainland Britain.

The were bought for the university by the agriculture programme leader and the flock’s shepherd, Mr Dominic Heneghan.

He bought them because they were from the same Irish county where his father was born.

“There are around 350 in this country and I don’t think there are many more in Ireland itself so they are now a very rare breed,” said Mr Heneghan.

“When we started to have sheep back on the campus after the last outbreak of foot and mouth we decided to only have a small flock so we went for a rare breed and I’d always wanted to keep these.

“We started off with 36 sheep two years ago and the flock has grown quite well.”

Mr Heneghan said they were quite a large breed with a very quiet temperament.

“They don’t run around like some breeds,” he said. “They often lie very still in the field right until you get up to them and then they just move their heads to see who is coming.”

Mr Heneghan said he thought the sheep’s popularity had dropped in recent years because people’s eating habits were changing.

“When the breed was first imported into Ireland 200 years ago people used to eat a lot of mutton,” he said.

“Because these are ready quite late as far as spring lamb is concerned and people started to eat more lamb they just went out of fashion.

“Some celebrity chefs have started using mutton again so we are letting some of our sheep get up to two years and then seeing if we can market mutton.

“Prince Charles is the president of the Mutton Renaissance Campaign so we want to see if we can try and interest him in the Galways.

“We’re trying to show that the sheep are still worth a place on the farm.”

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