Herdwick Lambs Changing Colour


One of the distinctive things about Herdwick sheep is that they change colour over the first few years of their lives.

When they are born, Herdwick lambs are all black, even though their skin underneath is all white (in contrast to Jacob sheep, for example, whose skin is white under their white fleece, and black under their black fleece).

This lamb was born with only small white tufts on it’s ears, but within the first week, had developed a white patch its head too.


At about two months old, the same Herdwick has started to develop goggles (or a maybe a balaclava?).

By six months or so, its whole head will have changed to white, and so will its legs.

When this lamb is first sheared next year, its new fleece will be a dark slate grey, and it will start to look a lot more like it’s mum (see picture below).


July 2nd Update

This is the same lamb two weeks later. More white is now visible on her face.


August 20th Update

This is what she looks like now - her whole head is almost white and she has white socks now too!
She has also put on a real lot of weight! It’s said that the camera adds 10 lbs, but it seems to have added 20 lbs to the lamb and nothing to the mum (although mum has had a shear in July and the lamb is developing a really thick fleece - anyway I’m photographing all the lambs before they go to market if this is what happens!)

It is believed that the Herdwick breed was brought over by the Vikings in the 10th and 11th Centuries. The name ‘Herdwick’ comes from the Old Norse word ‘herdvyck’ which means 'sheep pasture'.

The majority (over 90% ) of Herdwicks live within the Lake District National Park, but they are eminently suitable for grazing the hills of the Scottish Highlands.