Norfolk Horn

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A Norfolk Horn wether

The Norfolk Horn (also known as Blackface Norfolk Horned, Norfolk Horned, Old Norfolk or Old Norfolk Horned)[1] is one of the British black-faced sheep breeds. It differs from other black-faced breeds, which are mainly found in high-rainfall, upland areas, and from most other modern, lowland British sheep breeds in being lightly built and very hardy. This breed is raised primarily for meat.[2]

The Norfolk Horn developed on the sandy heathlands of the Breckland area of Norfolk, England, although similar black-faced sheep were formerly more widespread in lowland Britain. It is adapted to surviving on poor forage in cool but dry environments. The breed is long-legged with black faces and legs. Both sexes have horns, although these are larger in the males. At maturity, an ewe weighs about 70 kg (150 lb). The breed is described as "flighty" and is likened to goats in their ability to jump over obstacles such as fencing.

It was a popular breed in Norfolk until the middle 19th century, when "improved" breeds such as the Leicester and Southdown appeared. Norfolk Horn ewes were mated to Southdown rams to produce high quality meat-producing lambs, and this cross became established as a separate breed, the Suffolk.[3]

The Norfolk Horn breed fell to only one flock in 1919, but was built up and survived due to the efforts of one man, J. D. Sayer, who built up the flock which was then divided between himself and the Cambridge animal research university, then to only 10 registered ewes and two rams. By 1950, though, there were unregistered stock. The breed was revived through the efforts of the Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST) at the National Agricultural Centre, Stoneleigh and at Aldenham Country Park, Hertfordshire. With a shortage of pure-bred fertile rams (the last pure-bred ram died in 1973), a related breed, the Suffolk, as well as unrelated breeds such as the Wiltshire Horn and Swaledale, were used to produce animals over 90% (15/16ths) Norfolk Horn. In 1986, the breed was recognised by the RBST, appearing on their Priority List at that time as "Category 1, Critical". The breed has since increased in numbers, and was rated in the 2007 RBST watchlist as "Category 4, At Risk".[4]


  1. ^ "Norfolk Horn". Breeds of Livestock. Oklahoma State University, Dept. of Animal Science. Retrieved 2009-04-22.
  2. ^ "Norfolk Horn/United Kingdom". Breed Data Sheet. Domestic Animal Diversity Information System. Retrieved 2009-09-04.
  3. ^ Long, Kerry; Coke, Suzannah. "THE HISTORY OF THE NORFOLK HORN". Retrieved 2009-04-22.
  4. ^ "Norfolk Horn". Watchlist. Rare Breeds Survival Trust. Archived from the original on 27 December 2016. Retrieved 2009-04-22.