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Derbyshire Gritstone   EFABIS Data


International Name

Derbyshire Gritstone

Local Name

Derbyshire Gritstone


Pennine Hills in Lancashire and Yorkshire

Breeding females


8.179 approx

Trend of population size


Flock book established



Origin history

One of the oldest of British sheep breeds, originating in the Derbyshire hills.  Records show that hardy sheep have been in the Derbyshire hills and the Pennine area since the middle ages (1200 1300 AD).  The Derbyshire Gritstone is very probably descended from these.  The spread to Lancashire occurred through sheep being droved through Lancashire and some remaining in the area.


 Breed description

The breed is hardy and adaptable, coping with rugged country up to 700 meters above sea level.

The breed is white with both sexes without horns. It has a clean-cut face and legs with black and white markings. It is large with ewes at 35 45 kg and rams at 65 75 kg and has a good quality weatherproof fleece.  It is unique within the hill breeds in being hornless. The breed is mainly hefted, with housing for approximately two months of the year. 

They are good mothers, giving lambs with relatively rapid growth rate and good survival traits. The ewes cross with both other hill breeds and continental breed giving improved lamb production. 

The breed is used for both meat and wool.

The flock book was established in 1907 showing a ram register and a ewe register for approximately 10% of ewes, for showing or specialist sale purposes.


Conservation activities


It has recently been shown that crossing the Derbyshire Gritstone rams with horned hill ewes is contributing to the eradication of headfly disease.

There is also new interest due to EU head skinning regulations.

The breed contributes to maintaining the traditional Pennine landscape and a sense of community within this area.


Cryopreservation of semen, NSP 308 doses


Contact The breed society is the Derbyshire Gritstone Breed Society

                  Sec Mrs S Coppack, 6, Bridge Close, Waterfoot, Rossendale, Lancs, BB4 9SN


Action 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