A breed Society since 1906
The Derbyshire Gritstone sheep originated on the hills of the Dale of Goyt (now better known as the Goyt Valley) on the edge of the Peak District around the year 1770 and was known in its early years as the Dale O’Goyt sheep and is one of the oldest of British Hill breeds.
By about 1850 the farmers in the locality were establishing uniformity in the breed, aiming at a hardy, disease resistant animal that could withstand the harsh winters on poor ground, produce a lively lamb, which grew well to produce a good carcass and a saleable wool crop.
As a result of careful selection and wise breeding, interest in the breed grew and on 15th October 1906, twenty-seven farmers came together to form the Derbyshire Gritstone Sheepbreeders Society (DGSS) under the presidency of the 8th Duke of Devonshire.
The Stud Flock Book was established shortly afterwards listing twenty flocks of acceptable and recognised Derbyshire Gritstone sheep in an area of about eighty square miles in the Peak District. But from these twenty individual flocks the Derbyshire Gritstone breed has expanded its territory and today flocks can be found all across the UK.
Continued careful breeding means Gritstones today are a hardy sheep with good mothering qualities, capable of producing c.1.5 lambs per ewe from poor hill land. The wool is of a superior quality having won prizes for wool exhibits at the highest level. Lambs mature quickly and produce a good lean carcass, which is required in today’s market.
Because the Derbyshire Gritstone is polled in both sexes, it is also used with success to sire polled lambs on other breeds of horned hill sheep.