The Norfolk Horn developed to do well in dry, cold conditions and on very sparse vegetation. It can thrive where other breeds would lose condition. The breed is prolific and usual lambing percentages are around 170%. Lambs usually weigh around 3.5-4kg and very few lambing difficulties occur.
- The Norfolk Horn was originally developed to graze the heathland of Norfolk and is similar to many of the British hill breeds.
- The breed started to decline in popularity during the 18th and 19th centuries when it was replaced by more productive breeds such as the Southdown.
- By the 20th century the breed was on the verge of extinction with only one flock in existence after the First World War.
- The last few sheep were passed onto Whipsnade Park and then the National Agricultural Centre but in 1973 the last purebred Norfolk Horn ram died.
- The end of the breed had been foreseen and a back crossing system developed involving the Suffolk, Swaledale, Wiltshire Horn and Llanwenog breeds.
- Although still a rare breed the Norfolk Horn is a long way from extinction with several large flocks throughout the country and a growing number of breed enthusiasts.
- The Norfolk Horn is a long legged, rangy breed with a thick white fleece.
- Ewes weigh around 70kg and rams, 90-95kg.
- The head and legs are black and both sexes are horned with the rams having heavy spiralled horns.
The breed is capable of surviving on very poor pasture and is known for walking a long way in search of grazing making the breed well suited to maintaining large sites.
The Norfolk Horn ewe is an excellent mother and would make a good lowland ewe for putting to a terminal sire. The example of the Suffolk shows the potential the Norfolk Horn has in a crossbreeding system.
Lambs grow relatively quickly with twins weighing around 31kg at 100 days old. Purebred lambs reach 17-18kg deadweight off grass within 5 months. The breed is lean enough to allow for lambs to be taken to heavier weights. The meat is eminently suitable for direct marketing.
Staple length- 7-10cm. Fleece weight- 1- 1.5kg. Quality 54s-56s.
Did you know?
Norfolk Horns were used in the creation of a Suffolk breed, one of the most frequently used breeds in modern sheep farming.
The Rare Breeds Survival Trust is the leading national charity working to conserve and protect the United Kingdom's rare native breeds of farm animals from extinction. We rely on the support of our members, grants and donations from the public to raise the £700,000 a year needed to maintain our conservation work with rare UK native breeds of farm animals. Visit www.rbst.org.uk to see how you can help.