The North Ronaldsays-Film



The North Ronaldsays are a rare breed of ancient short tailed Nordic sheep from the Orkney Isles in Scotland.

The sheep are fine boned and relatively small , the ewes for example reaching about 25kg. The ewes  have a strong maternal instinct and the breed have a luxurious fleece.

The bones of similar animals have been found at Skara Brae in the Orkney Isles dating from the Bronze Age and  genetic  studies have  demonstrated that the breed is still virtually unchanged from its original genotype.

The North Ronaldsays in the short film “New Life” brought to you by are owned by a couple who have a particular interest and knowledge about conservation ,they kindly invited me to meet some of their flock.

We filmed on a chill Spring afternoon being very well layered in thick jumpers and coats.

The animals featured in New Life are not reared for  meat , though some of the flock are occasionally loaned to an adjacent landowner to trim their grass.

 Conservation work where the animals are left in peace in as natural surroundings as possible is far removed from the disdain and imbalance which can cause them distress and or extinction. It is the 3 Graces in action Tenderness ,Generosity And Respect.

The North Ronaldsays  as a breed are assisted by the charity  named the Rare Breed Survival Trust  ( RBST) in the UK  and these sheep are currently classified as “vulnerable”on the RSBT’s   Watch List which is divided into 5 categories :

  • Critical
  • Endangered
  • Vulnerable
  • At Risk
  • Minority


The RSBT though not an animal rights organization per se  have a respect for the preservation of the gene pool of native breeds, mostly though not exclusively farm animals which they concern themselves with.

There is a nexus between caring for the animals and their  humane survival alongside us prolific humans and our often excessive demands upon the natural world which can lead to a range of imbalances as we know.

Of course it is not always possible for people to keep farm animal without usage its a matter of  humane practices attitudes and balance.

“Turfed out” from  pastures in 1832 to conserve  grazing  land and confined to the shoreline the sheep adapted  to grazing on seaweed .


This is what Ruth Dalton Field Officer North Of The Rare Breed Survival Trust Says:

“The”North Ronaldsays are one of the rarest breeds of sheep we look after. uniquely adapted to feed on seaweed on the shores of their island home of North Ronaldsay they have made a remarkable transition to be successfully kept by around 100 dedicated breeders on the mainland. These sheep keepers are important in maintaining a geographical spread of the breed, protecting them in the face of possible disease outbreak”

All Best Wishes Ruth Dalton:


Interestingly conservation work can involve not only rare breed animals but also the protection of animals from illegal harm and exploitation as we have seen.




“New Life” From Wendy Datta

Posted 9th June 2015

Copyright Wendy Datta

All Rights Reserved.