As keepers of primitive breeds of sheep are well aware, the best things come in small packages, but the diminutive stature of these breeds means that they often are not the first choice when it comes to meat production.

The seven native primitive breeds are Boreray, Castlemilk Moorit, Manx Loaghtan, North Ronaldsay, Soay, Hebridean and Shetland, with the last two classed as 'success story' breeds which are no longer rare. RBST Cumbria Secretary Maria Benjamin, a Castlemilk Moorit breeder herself, believes that these have untapped potential and has launched 'Primitive Produce'  project to demonstrate that small can become great in terms of taste. 

Of her own experience, she says 'Last year we gave our local butcher some Castlemilk meat from an 18-month old wether (castrated male). He now takes two carcasses a week from us as long as we can supply them'. 

Maria felt that there was an opportunity to promote the varied flavours and high quality of primitive hogget (sheep meat from animals between one and two years old) and approached local RBST Field Officer Ruth Dalton to see whether they could run a project to celebrate this highly flavourful product and promote it to a wider audience.

Ruth and Maria decided a key factor of the project would be to remove the effects of the rearing environment to enable a true comparison of flavour.

The project's wethers will be reared on the farm of Maria and her partner John near Coniston. They will grow on until next Autumn, and speciality butcher Andrew Sharp will butcher the carcasses. 

For the full article and to follow the journey, join us here!