Black Welsh Mountain
Welsh Mountain sheep are generally white and are descended from a breed which dates back to the 13th century. In the 19th century, fleeces from the occasional black lambs (known as coch ddu or reddish brown, the colour they turn when they are bleached by the sun) became sought after. As a result, the sheep were bred to create a separate, pure strain. The sheep remain black all their lives, unlike Hebrideans which turn grey with age.
However, as reliable black dyes were developed, the fleeces became less valued, and Black Welsh Mountain sheep became less common. Recent concerns about the use of chemicals, interest in biodiversity and the growing popularity of pure wools have helped this breed to become popular again. Although these small sheep remain common in Wales and are popular with smallholders, the Black Welsh Mountain sheep is not numerous.
The wool from these friendly little sheep is fine and soft, rarely course . Lamb’s fleeces are usually completely black, though older ones tend to be bleached by the sun, resulting in a mix of black and bitter chocolate shades of hand spun yarn.