RYELAND sheep breeders past and present joined together in Hereford last weekend to celebrate the 120th anniversary of the Ryeland Flock Book Society.

Meeting at the Green Dragon Hotel, Hereford, where the first ever meeting of the sheep breed society took place in 1903, attendees enjoyed meeting fellow Ryeland sheep farmers as well as an entertaining and engaging talk from well known local stockman Clive Davies.

Clive, a renowned livestock breeder, judge and commentator, from near Ledbury started the day with an interesting talk about the history of breed societies and posed the question what did the future hold? He introduced many interesting items including a photo of a famous Herefordshire bull rescued from a skip!


The day also provided a good opportunity to view a fascinating display of historic memorabilia compiled by Jonathan Webb whose family were founding members of the Coloured Ryeland flock book with their highly regarded Teme flock of Coloured Ryelands.

As one of the oldest British native breeds of sheep, Ryelands have a rich history in this area. The breed originated in Herefordshire on land which grew a great deal of rye grass (hence the name) and the earliest references to the breed date back to the 12th century when the monks of Leominster were trading in Ryeland wool.

References to the name can be seen across the county, with streets in both Hereford and Leominster bearing the "Ryeland" name.

The breed remains popular today with farmers and smallholders across the region, the UK and beyond.

Formal business at the AGM of the society saw the handover to the new president, John Reed of Vowchurch, and the president elect, Bobby Morgan from Presteigne, take place. It was announced that the annual Ryeland Flock Book Society Show and Sale is to return to Ludlow on Saturday, August 19, at Ludlow's livestock market after being held more recently at Worcester.

Following the day’s events the new president, Mr Reed, held a celebratory dinner and raffle in aid of Herefordshire We are Farming Minds raising more than £300 for the worthy charity.

Chair of the Herefordshire and Marches Regional Ryeland group, David Duggan, from Aymestry, Herefordshire comments: “Thanks go to all who supported this fantastic dinner and fundraiser. It was a great evening that showed enthusiasm for the Ryeland sheep breed.”

For more information on Ryeland Sheep and events visit ryelandfbs.com and the regional website hmryelandgroup,co.uk.