Herdwick Sheep: Raising This British Hill Breed


Herdwick sheep are domestic sheep from the mountainous Lake District of England, raised for carpet wool and meat. Lambs are born all black and then mature into their distinctive white face and legs. Their name comes from Old Norse “herdvyck” which means “sheep pasture.” Here’s a close-up look at a flock of Herdwicks and their owner…

Moving to the Countryside

Nestled in the Dutch countryside, Dagmar tends to a flock of Herdwick sheep on the hobby farm she oversees alongside her husband. “My dream of having my own small farm has always been significant,” Dagmar says. “After living in Hong Kong for five-and-a-half years, me and my husband were fortunate to fulfill our dream and buy a house with a little land in The Netherlands.”

Having secured the land, Dagmar has been building up the farm to branch out from Herdwick sheep to include chickens, ducks, rabbits and a couple of miniature donkeys.

Taking a moment from caring for her flock, we spoke to Dagmar about researching breeds of sheep and her early farming influences. We also got to know an adorable sheep called Sear.

Sewing The Seeds For A Farming Life

Growing up, Dagmar’s parents didn’t live on a farm, but they did find a way to keep some cows and sheep.

“We had land near our house where the animals grazed in the summer,” she says. “In winter, they were kept in stables. As a young girl, I loved accompanying my father, especially during lambing season.”

Furthermore, when lambs were rejected by their mother, Dagmar would help to bring them into the homestead. “I enjoyed taking care of them and walking them on the street,” she says.

Focusing On Herdwick Sheep

When Dagmar and her husband began to plan their hobby farm, they started out searching for miniature donkeys alongside a “robust and strong” breed of sheep that also “looked sweet and cute.”

While browsing Pinterest one day, Dagmar came across Herdwick sheep in the Lake District of the United Kingdom. She instantly fell in love.

“I searched for a breeder in The Netherlands,” she says, “and in September 2018, I got my first three Herdwick lambs: Saar, Julie and Noor. Sheep are just fantastic animals; they are really important to me and I enjoy spending time with them every day!”

Spotlight On Sear

Sear is one of the stars at Dagmar’s hobby farm. “She’s a very sweet, calm and amusing little sheep,” she explains. “When I have a treat for my sheep, she’s always the last to arrive. She also has this way of looking around as if she’s seeing something extraordinary; she’s just a very relaxed sheep. It’s just hard not to fall in love with Saar’s adorable little face.”

Gaining The Trust Of Herdwick Sheep

Looking back at 2023, Dagmar says that she noticed many of her sheep seemed to be shy. “They wouldn’t let themselves be petted or even let me come close to them,” she says.

However, by investing a lot of time in them and demonstrating a large amount of patience, Dagmar managed to gain their trust. “This makes me very happy!” she says.

Herdwick Sheep Bring Joy

Reflecting on her hobby farming journey so far, Dagmar says that she takes joy from knowing that she can provide her animals “with a beautiful happy life.” She adds that whenever she feels like she’s having a grumpy day, her animals “always bring a smile” back to her face.

“Life on a farm allows you to spend a lot of time outdoors and enjoy the nature around you,” continues Dagmar. “We try to do everything as organically as possible to further increase our biodiversity. That’s why we hope to buy more land in the future, so we can give the animals more space and give the land back to nature.”

This story about Herdwick sheep was written for Hobby Farms magazine online. Click here to subscribe.





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