Jacob sheep at Charlecote Park

Park ranger sends new Jacob lamb to join her mum and other sheep in parkland

Our historic Jacob sheep have been a distinctive sight at Charlecote Park for over 200 years and they are as important today as they were back then.

Lambs in the spring

April sees the beginning of lambing season at Charlecote Park. The ewes are heavily pregnant at this point so we move them into a maternity field for their comfort and safety, and so we can keep an eye on them as they begin to give birth. They stay here, away from the main visitor offer, to give birth in a calm environment.

We do not run a lambing event for visitors at Charlecote, but do come back after Easter when you can see the lambs leaping about in the nursery space in Front Park – it’s a joy to watch.

It’s a long but rewarding month for our team, who watch over the ewes and lambs, night and day and in all weathers. If you’re visiting in April, head over to the space near the Spinney (next to the toilets) to find out more information about lambing, the team, and how the Jacob sheep are the conservation champions of Charlecote!

Two Jacob lambs at Charlecote Park
Two jacob sheep lambs at Charlecote in spring
Two Jacob lambs at Charlecote Park

 

Our historic breed

Did you know that the origins of Jacob sheep may date back to an ancient breed from Mesopotamia around 2400BC? Stone vessels from that time show paintings of some very Jacob-looking sheep.

Legend has it that Jacob sheep were first seen in the United Kingdom during the destruction of the Spanish Armada in 1588 as the distinctive sheep were washed ashore from the wreckage of the fallen ships.

Look out for our rare-breed Jacob sheep in the parkland
Look out for Charlecote Park's historic rare-breed Jacob sheep in the parkland
Look out for our rare-breed Jacob sheep in the parkland

How Jacob sheep came to live at Charlecote Park

Jacob sheep are famous for their piebald colouring and distinctive multi horns and can be considered a primitive breed having made very few adaptations over their long history. 

Their connection with Charlecote Park dates back to 1756, when they were introduced by "Bachelor" George Lucy from his travels throughout Europe. This was the very first managed Jacob flock to be introduced into England and Charlecote is proud to have one of the largest flocks in the country today.

Creating the landscape

Capability Brown became particularly fond of the breed during his time at Charlecote and introduced them into many of his designed landscapes over the years; this would certainly have helped to increase the number of flocks and their locations across the United Kingdom. 

We look after the sheep and deer every day, whatever the weather
Feeding the Jacob sheep at Charlecote Park in winter
We look after the sheep and deer every day, whatever the weather

Award-winning rare breed

We work with the Jacob Sheep Society and our 92 breeding ewes have been joined by award-winning pedigree rams from the Society.

We've reinstated the pedigree status of the flock, with each of our breeding ewes now having her own certificate.

The flock at Charlecote currently assists us in conserving the careful balance of grasses, wild flowers and insects that thrive in the parkland while producing the best quality meat produced to the highest of welfare standards.

Two new pedigree Jacob rams joined the team recently
Jacob sheep rams Firkin and Blaze at Charlecote Park in Warwickshire
Two new pedigree Jacob rams joined the team recently

Maintaining this rare breed

Charlecote has one of the few in-house lambing teams within the National Trust.

Park and Garden Manager Paul has been lambing here for many years, now joined by Park Ranger Joy. Working shifts throughout the day and night they ensure that our Jacob ewes are well and happy as lambing takes place. You'll see some of the new lambs in the parkland in April and May.

Our volunteer photographer has been behind the scenes with the team - take a look at the whole story.

The first lambs are always special, safely delivered by our hardworking team
First Jacob sheep lambs of spring at Charlecote Park
The first lambs are always special, safely delivered by our hardworking team

The adult sheep are sheared in late May but we don't advertise this as a public event as the sheep can become distressed around large crowds, particularly as they still have their lambs with them at this time.

Newly-sheared Jacob ewes - looking a little indignant but definitely more comfortable for summer
Jacob sheep ewes and lambs at Charlecote Park after shearing
Newly-sheared Jacob ewes - looking a little indignant but definitely more comfortable for summer

Tupping happens In November - our colour-coded rams ensure that we know which one has worked the hardest! Daylight length determines when the ewes come into season and we plan ahead for lambing in April the following year.

The sheep have a supplementary feed of beet through the winter, we look after them 365 days a year
We look after our flock of Jacob sheep 365 days of the year at Charlecote Park
The sheep have a supplementary feed of beet through the winter, we look after them 365 days a year