The South Wales Mountain is the largest breed of Welsh Mountain sheep, producing pure-bred lambs in the 30-40kgs live weight range. It is of moderate height, and thus retains the agility which is essential to a mountain breed of sheep.
The rams usually have horns which are round, strong and set well apart to give a broad forehead. Their heads are masculine and wedge shaped, tapering towards the nose, with strong jaws. Some rams are moiled, whilst the ewes are always hornless. The face is white, or white with broken tan markings. The cheeks, poll, forehead and throat are free from wool. The eyes are prominent, bright and dark; the ears are small, thin and oblique, with the nose being black.
The neck is short, strong and thick, with a wide, prominent brisket. The back is long and level to a strong loin with hindquarters that are well let down. The ewe is deep bodied and of a moderate height.
The legs are white, or white with broken tan markings to correspond with the face, are of moderate length with the hocks free of wool. The bone should be of moderate size.
This is of medium length, strong and bushy.
The fleece is very dense containing an even mixture of white kemp and wool, with quite often a tan collar giving a most attractive appearance. However, any tan colour should end at the shoulders, with the remainder of the fleece free from colour. Chocolate or grey markings are not desirable, though the occasional black spot is acceptable. Special attention is given to the absence of wool on the underpart.
Tan is described as a yellowish-brown or golden colour.
South Wales Mountain Sheep have been reared on the harsh hill pasture of South Wales for generations. Their ability to thrive where lesser breeds have failed has ensured their predominance in the area. This natural survivability means that they are excellent converters of grass to meat.
However, as these points are quite general, many breeders have their own personal preferences when breeding South Wales Mountain Sheep, while keeping within the breed standards. This leads to a wider diversity in the “type” of sheep offered for sale, giving an enhanced variety so the buyer can select the sheep most beneficial to their flock.
A breeder wants a hardy, prolific, milky ewe, which can breed good quality replacements with excellent mothering ability and high lambing percentage, especially in more challenging environments.
Breeding South Wales Mountain Sheep is extremely rewarding, and many farmers have gained a lifetime of enjoyment and satisfaction from breeding this remarkable and distinctive breed.