Among the principal differences between its conformation and that usually laid down for a lowland, long-woolled breed are the high withers, as opposed to level shoulders, and the upright carriage for the head. These two features together with shoulders well laid back and the correct amount of spring in the pasterns, enable this breed to pick up their front feet easily. Given in addition a slight slope at the tailhead, which makes for maximum drive from the hind-quarters, and you have the basis of a type of conformation which makes it easier for the sheep to move, and makes possible the maximum freedom on the hills. This ease of movement results in an active, good walking sheep – one which has no hesitation in walking to the back of the highest and roughest block of country, if the feed is there, and is easily mustered.
With the foregoing in mind, the most important directions are, in a few words, as follows:
- Avoid the abnormally broad head, heavy shoulders and excessive brisket of the specialised meat sheep – they give trouble at lambing and necessitate close shepherding.
- Avoid, also, the short “dumpy” type of sheep – profile ewes usually possess reasonable length of body. On the other hand, as they claim in Scotland, excessive length is a handicap to a sheep on steep country.
- Select for plenty of width between the hips and pinbones. This is far more important from the point of view of easy lambing than a straight carry-out to the tail-head. In other words, the breeding and milking type ewe has a suggestion of the wedge shape of the dairy cow.
- Above all, preserve the alert, active, labour-saving characteristics in the breed.