In the 1970s the Shropshire Sheep was under close observation by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust through fears that it may become extinct. However, after many years of hard work by dedicated breeders the breed has prevailed and is seeing an increase in popularity.
It is common for sheep to be used as conservation grazers, but they have a tendency to eat the new growth on trees as well as munching on older foliage. To this end, they are not always suitable for dwarf or new orchards; even in established orchards they have been known to strip the bark off the trees. The Shropshire sheep, however, does not have this problem.
Pedigree Shropshire sheep, very unusually, do not have any interest in the buds or shoots on trees which makes them perfect sheep for grazing around orchards, or Christmas trees. Growers throughout the UK and Europe are keeping the grass down around their trees by letting the Shropshires loose; they keep down the grass and usual weeds all while leaving the trees intact. Due to this useful attribute, they no longer feature on the Rare Breed Survival Trust’s watchlist and are becoming more and more sought after with much breeding stock also being exported to Europe.
It must also be noted that this breed make excellent mothers, often rearing twins, and they also grow well on grass, without the need for finishing supplements. On the fibre front, they are very woolly with the fleeces suitable for making into medium yarns.