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If you're planning to play i-spy as you drive around the Dales, there's one thing you're almost guaranteed to spot - Swaledale sheep. This iconic breed are such a strong feature of the Dales, a Swaledale sheep's head is used as the emblem of the Yorkshire Dales National Park
So what makes Swaledale sheep so special? They're easy to recognise with their distinctive horns, black face, white muzzle and white markings around their eyes, with a thick fleece.
For the most part Swaledale sheep are kept for their meat. Their fleece tends to be more grey/brown than white and is quite coarse so it's best for use in carpets, rugs and insulation. And before someone asks - no, shearing sheep doesn't hurt them - it keeps them cool in summer and prevents some disease. It's the ultimate renewable fibre, growing back again and again.
While we're on the subject of sheep, did you know there are thirty times more sheep in the Yorkshire Dales than people: more than 600,000 sheep! Their influence on life in the Dales continues. Wool and sheep literally knit Yorkshire Dales communities together. Thanks to sheep, we have a wonderfully rich calendar of events with lively country shows through out the summer months. Many of our most stunning buildings and villages owe their existence to the riches gained from wool trading many years ago. I'll write about some of these in future blogs.