Saving seaside Scottish sheep

The future of a rare, seaweed-eating sheep in Orkney looks more secure, thanks to the work of a new charity.

The future of the rare, seaweed-eating sheep that have thrived on the tiny island of North Ronaldsay, the most northerly on Orkney’s archipelago, since Neolithic times looks to be secure thanks to a charity formed a year ago.

The Orkney Sheep Foundation (OSF) aims to protect the North Ronaldsay breed, which is famed for living exclusively on the seashore, except in the lambing season, when the ewes are brought inland.

The animals’ digestion is so accustomed to a diet of kelp that they need to be kept on the shore by a 13-mile dry-stone wall (sheep dyke) built in 1832 that encircles the island, otherwise they risk getting copper poisoning from eating too much grass inland or cross-breeding.

The OSF is currently raising funds to repair three miles of the sheepdyke that have been severely damaged by ferocious storms. To donate, visit

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