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Rough Fell   EFABIS Data


International Name

Rough Fell

Local Name

Rough Fell, Kendal Rough


Cumbrian and Yorkshire Fells and dales

Breeding females



Trend of population size

Stay the Same

Flock book established



Origin – history

The Rough Fell is an extremely hardy hill breed. The origins of this breed have been traced back to the Middle Ages in Northern England, where it can endure the hardships of adverse conditions in the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales.
It has been a recognised breed for over 150 years, part derived from the Blackheath Sheep.

Breed description

The Rough Fell is a long lived sheep and is easy to handle and docile. The breed’s hardiness and docility contribute to its high genetic distinctiveness and environmental ability.
It excels in hardiness and exists under adverse conditions. It is found in the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales as a pure-bred, however draft ewes for cross-breeding are now found in many other parts of the United Kingdom, particularly upland areas.
It is one of the largest mountain sheep in Britain with a full white fleece, horned black head and a definite white patch on the nose.
The breed is used for the production of meat and wool. Rough Fell lamb is proving to be popular with caterers because of its larger meat yield
Ewes are excellent mothers with good milking ability. The hardy constitution enables a ewe to mother and rear her lambs whilst feeding mainly on the poor upland grasses and heathers found on the native moorland. On lower ground draft ewes are crossed with the Teeswater or the Blueface Leicester to produce quality half-bred females and prime finished lamb. Due to the superior carcass, both pure-bred and cross-bred lambs are popular at market.
This breed was endangered due to its geographical location in the 2001 Foot and Mouth epidemic.
Rough Fell rams are large, 110 Kg, with the ewes at 65 Kg
. The flock book was established in 1926 and has since maintained a continuous record of registered rams.. It is maintained electronically.

Conservation activities

In situ,
Made in Cumbria has assisted with a promotional video ‘Rough fell Heritage’, celebrating the life, work and landscape of the Rough Fell sheep farming community. The breed’s hardiness and docility contribute to its high genetic distinctiveness and environmental ability.
Cryopreservation of semen and blood, NSP storage, 2584 doses Heritage genebank 324 doses

Contact The breed society is the Rough Fell Sheep Breeders Association.

                 ROUGH FELL SHEEP BREEDERS ASSOCIATION, Sec. Amanda Croft
                 Little Burnholme, Swinton road, Masham, Ripon
North Yorkshire HG4 4NS
  07595 982559

                 Website: www.roughfellsheep.co.ukhfellsheep.co.uk    


Action span class="tit1">Heritage Sheep AGRI GEN RES 040 receives financial support from the European Commission, Genetic Resources in Agriculture, under European Commission Council Regulation (EC) No 870/2004 AGRI GEN RES 2006 HERITAGE SHEEP