Over 1000 years ago Viking settlers brought their sheep to the Western Isles and Highlands of Scotland. These sheep were hardy being able to withstand the harshest conditions, surviving on mainly unproductive moor land. The Hebridean breed has remained unmodified by artificial selection throughout the years and still today proves economically efficient. Hebridean ewes have excellent mothering instincts and the ability to produce high quality thrifty lambs. Meat produced from the
Hebridean breed is exceptionally lean with a delicious and distinctive flavour.
Hebrideans are classed as a Category 5 - Traditional breed by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust.
Hebrideans have grazed the South Front of Harewood House for over 100 years and the flock now consists of approximately 80 breeding ewes and 2 tups. 2006 saw a very successful lambing season at Harewood with 104 lambs successfully reared.
The flock produces a good crop of wool which in previous years has been sent to a small mill in Wales to be spun into yarn and woven into blankets which are then returned to Harewood Estate.
Highland Cattle are one of Britain's oldest and most recognised breeds and have remained unchanged for centuries. Written records detailing Highland herds can be traced back to the 18th century.
Highland Cattle survive on poor mountainous land, in areas of high annual rainfall and harsh winds. They winter out doors and produce exceptionally hardy calves.
Harewood is an ideal location for Highland cows offering extensive grazing over lush green pastures all year round. Harewood Estate has been home to a small herd of Highland Cattle since 2000 and the herd is now 29 strong including the eight calves born last year. The herd is registered with the Highland Cattle Society and has been awarded Elite status under a high-health scheme called Herdcare. This scheme aims to eradicate diseases of cattle through a period of screening.
This year 8 cows have been confirmed as pregnant and are due to calve in autumn.
There are records from medieval times of the existence of a Deer Park at Harewood and as part of a special project we have reintroduced a Deer Park at Harewood Estate.
The selected site for this was the North Park and the surrounds of Harewood Castle, where we now have two herds of deer; one red, one fallow. Other historical records suggest that there were wider areas across the Estate, which were also Deer Parks.
There has been a recent interesting find of a red deer antler recovered from the depths of a nearby pond. This was professionally tested and carbon dated and the amazing discovery revealed that the antler was dated (+ or - 37 years) at 1876 BC. The antler is in remarkable condition for its 4000 years and was from a time when red deer would have shared their range with bears, wild boar and wolves.
The antler can be viewed at the Estate Office.