Manx Loaghtan

Manx Loaghtan credit Carol Kempson

Key Characteristics

The Manx is a very hardy breed requiring little in the way of additional feed and able to survive in harsh conditions. Anecdotal evidence suggests a good level of resistance to footrot and flystrike. Research carried out on worm resistance found that the breed possessed a good level of inbuilt resistance to gastro-intestinal worms. Ewes can produce lambs at up to 13-14 years old. Depending on management a range of lambing percentages between 130-170% can be expected. Lambs are small and active. The breed experiences very few lambing problems. 

History

  • The Manx Loaghtan is one of the group of Northern short-tailed primitive breeds that also includes the Soay and the Shetland amongst others.
  • All of the primitive breeds found their niche grazing areas where more developed sheep would not survive and the Manx grazed the slopes and uplands of the Isle of Man for generations.
  • By the 1950s numbers of Manx Loaghtans had declined due to the introduction of other hill breeds.
  • Thanks to the dedication of a few enthusiasts the breed was saved from extinction and although still rare there are now several flocks of Manx Loaghtans on the Isle of Man and throughout the rest of the U.K.

Appearance

  • The Manx is a long legged, fine boned, primitive breed with a moorit (brown) fleece and brown face and legs.
  • Ewes weigh around 40kg and rams, 55kg.
  • Both ewes and rams are usually horned, sometimes having four or six horns. Animals can occasionally be polled.

Uses

Conservation Grazing

The Manx does well on rough grazing and is an active browser making it an ideal breed for most conservation grazing situations.

Wool

The Manx fleece is exceptionally hard wearing and the rich moorit colouring means the wool is much in demand for use in knitwear. Staple length- 8-13cm. Fleece weight- 1.5kg. Quality- 44s-48s. 

Cross Breeding

Most Manx flocks are run pure but a terminal sire (eg. Charollais) can be used on Manx ewes to produce a larger lamb. If a terminal sire is used care must be taken to select a ram that will not cause lambing difficulties for the ewe. The Manx ram can be used on commercial type ewe lambs to ensure an easy first time lambing.

Meat

The breed can be slaughtered as lambs for smaller joints but generally slaughtered as hogget or mutton as the breed is slow growing, allowing a more distinctive flavour to develop. The meat, when hung properly, is known for having a rich, sweet flavour and can sell well through direct marketing. A terminal sire on a Manx ewe will produce a good commercial lamb that will grade well.

Did you know?

Originally, animals were also white, grey and black, as well as the brown 'moorit' colour of the breed today. Loaghtan is the Manx word for this brown moorit colour. Clothing made from this brown wool was highly prized and so sheep were selected to be this colour. 

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