The rise of the Lleyn

Surveys have been commissioned by relevant bodies including the MLC, MAFF and now DEFRA and EBLEX.  The surveys have been sent out as postal questionnaires directly to sheep keepers in 1971, 1987, 1996, 2003.  The results of the most recent survey in 2012 have now been released having undergone analysis. 

The Lleyn has continued to increase in numbers, with about half a million ewes found in 2012.  Half were mated pure and the rest to a variety of ram breeds.  Lleyn rams were mated to half a million ewes.  The Lleyn is now the largest non-hill breed in Britain

The 1971 survey found 7,000 Lleyn ewes in Britain.  The below table indicates that 474,000 Lleyn ewes were mated in 2012, some 3.6% of all ewes in the country.

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In addition, there were estimated to be 12,600 Lleyn rams in Britain, some 3.4% of all rams used, which were mated to around 500,000 ewes (3.8% of all ewes nationally).  About 275,000 Lleyn ewes were mated to Lleyn rams in 2012 and a further 70,000 were mated to Texel rams, 50,000 to Charollais rams and 25,000 to Suffolk rams.

The below table shows major ewe breeds mated to Lleyn rams in 2012.

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The major ewe types were Lleyn crosses and Texel x Lleyn ewes.  About 372,000 ewes containing some Lleyn ancestry were mated to Lleyn rams.  About 78,000 crossbred ewes containing Lleyn genes were mated in 2012; 27,000 to Texel rams and a further 20,000 to Lleyn rams.  Therefore in 40 years the Lleyn breed has risen from a very small local Welsh breed to the largest non-hill purebred in Britain and the fourth largest non-hill ram breed.  In addition, it is third behind Texel and then Suffolk crosses for contributing to crossbred ewes, outside the mule/halfbred types.

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The above information is taken from The Breeding Structure of the British Sheep Industry 2012

Results of the 2012 survey of sheep breeds in Great Britain

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