Soay Sheep


The Soay sheep are a primitive breed of domestic sheep. They represent the breeding situation of sheep during the Neolithic age. Either they were brought to the island Soay - situated in the west of Scotland - by early settlers or later on by Vikings. There they imbruted. The name Soay means: Sheep island. Due to the inaccessebility of the island and little utility value, they were protected from human interference and thus were able to maintain their original genetic type. Significant features of the Soay sheep are the wild-coloured drawing, which ressembles the European mouflons, and the indenpendent seasonal wool dropping. Both females and males are horned, but there are females without horns. Males without horns or with a fragile horn formation become feeble animals and often die soon. In addition to single-coloured sheep, a mouflon-like colored type exists in a light and dark version. The ration of these color types is 3:1. According to studies, dark colored Soay sheep are diminishing, because - for this sheep breed- the gene activating the dark colour, is also responsible for a worse health of the animal. Although they are taller and stronger, the affected sheep are to die earlier and do not reproduce as efficient as the light-colored animals.

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