The Manx Loaghtan Breed
About the breed
The Manx Loaghtan is one of the oldest and most striking breeds of sheep in the UK. Termed 'a primitive rare breed' it is classed at as 'at risk' by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust.
The Manx Loaghtan (pronounced Manx Lockton) is fine boned and late maturing, producing a meat with distinctive taste and flavour. As well as being tastier than commercial lamb it is also healthier. The Scottish Agricultural Colleges found the Manx Loaghton to be 23 per cent lower in fat and almost 10 per cent lower in cholesterol than commercial breeds.
The Manx Loaghtan is a hardy mountain sheep, with impressive horns and a dark brown fleece. Four horned rams are particularly striking. The breed has been around unchanged since the Iron Age. Traditionally the Manx was thought to have been introduced into the UK by the Vikings, but bone records from archaeological sites indicate the Manx was probably already here and probably pre-dates Viking invasions.
The breed takes its name from the colour of its fleece, derived from two Manx words Lugh (mouse) and Dhoan (brown) or from Lhost dhoan (burnt brown). The lambs are born jet black acquiring the distinctive fleece by the time they are weaned.
The Manx Loaghtan used to exist in high numbers on the Isle of Man and across the UK. However by the 1950s there were only a handful left. Today, as with many rare breeds, it is found in a few small flocks around the UK.
The Importance of Rare Breeds
The march of industrialised farming has discarded those breeds that don't fit with commercial production. The result is a farming system centred around a handful of animal breeds, crops and vegetables. Many breeds once common in the UK have become isolated and some extinct. Those traditional breeds at risk include the Manx Loaghtan.
By purchasing rare breed meat you help in the survival of that breed by:
- Assisting in the economic viability of farms rearing rare breed animals
- Helping others taste these fantastic breeds and plants and become interested in our faming heritage
To find out more about rare breeds visit the Rare Breeds Survival Trust website: http://www.rbst.org.uk
All of Langley Chase Organic Farm's Manx Loaghtan are pedigree and the farm is registered with the Rare Breeds Survival Trust.
"Langley Chase Lambs are the super models of the sheep world....If there are aristocrats among the sheep world then these milk chocolate herbivores are they....they are richly fantastic, foreign looking beasts worthy of our top tables - or to put it another way, exotic."