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American RBST Foundation Flock USA0001
British Registered Soay sheep

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British Soay ewes and lambs, Oregon

The History of Soay Sheep in North America

The history of the Soay in Great Britain is long and replete with scholarly studies and romantic recollections with a bit of mystery thrown in. The history of the Soay in the New World, on the other hand, is less extensive, in part scientific and in part intertwined with the exotic animal trade.  This prehistoric sheep (Ovis aries L.) has been imported to North America from the UK on only two occasions, both late in the twentieth century and both times to Canada; the first shipment in 1974 from Scotland and the second January 1990 from England.[1] From Canada it entered the United States in the 1980's and then again two decades later.

The two introductions gave the saga two distinct chapters. The first one had   very limited documentation, lineages lost to competitive marketing practices and the introgression of other breeds. The second was a carefully controlled scientific study of a small closed flock. This required complete, clear breeding records and a band whose members were never sold.  As it turned out this provided for the establishment of a satellite flock outside Great Britain and with that came a second opportunity for conservation in North America. Because of quarantine regulations, the resulting prohibitive costs involved with importing sheep into Canada (they cannot be imported from the UK into the United States),  and the BSE scare in the spring of 1990, the amazing part of the Soay story is that it has had a second chance at all.

                                                                Chapter 1      
                                                           The 1974 importation  
                                                                              American Soay Sheep

On December 5,1974  Manitoba's Assiniboine Park Zoo received  four six-month old Soay lambs from Highland Wildlife Park in Kingussie, Scotland.  The sheep began their trek in September with a month-long quarantine in England at Whipsnade Park outside London. From there they were shipped across the Atlantic and held for a second month before being released to Winnipeg in early December. The four little horned animals were a welcomed addition to the zoo's recently renovated hoof stock compound. Surprisingly, in view of the extensive preparations and expenses involved with importation, the rams were twin brothers and the ewes may  have been half siblings to the  twin rams. Highland has always run a feral flock and  no one knows which of their three rams sired these babies.  Because of the small number and close relationship of these founder animals, inbreeding became a concern early on and within a few years the staff considered going through the arduous task of again importing sheep from Scotland.

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                                   Soay sheep, Highland Wildlife Park , August 2005

About this same time, however, the zoo was offered a donation of Markhor goats from Afghanistan. An endangered, wild breed was of more interest to the zoologists than a primitive domestic sheep and so, because of limited space, after less than a decade, the Soay program was discontinued.

Over the years seventeen young were born at Assiniboine and these were transferred to several  wildlife parks and farms across Canada as the flock expanded. The last Soay left in 1981. According to one zoo keeper a number of  people crossed the sheep they acquired with other breeds and in his words “most of the Soay he saw outside the zoo in later years did not look anything like the originals. [pers.comm. H. Fondenivel].  Few records were kept and as the sheep scattered or died and memories faded the details of their story were lost. 

The east coast
Eugen Hutka, one of three exotic animal dealers who acquired sheep from the zoo, was the only person presently known to have any success with them. Through his contacts in the States, he sold several in the early 1980’s to an American miniature horse breeder, J. C. Williams of Inman, South Carolina
.[2] This was the first successful  introduction of the Soay into the US.  Williams, who bought the Soay as a novelty, kept them for about five years and sold pairs as companion animals to his miniature horse clients. What became of those is not known, but as horse owners lost interest in them they seem to have simply disappeared. The remaining flock of twelve (eight rams and four ewes) was sold in 1988 to Robert Johnson of Rossville, Georgia, a historian and long time goat breeder who was fascinated by their history.    

Johnson and his wife Mary Ellen of Pine Cone Valley Farm owned a sheep and goat registry (IDGR, Inc.) and they appear to be the only ones who kept any kind of detailed breeding records, either before or after they had the sheep. In 1992, after only three years, the Johnsons sold their flock (by then up to16 animals including an upgraded ewe from Dean Lewis on the west coast and her two ram lambs) to Bruce Poor from Nantucket Island, Massachusetts. Poor, who had an interest in minor breeds, was attracted to the Soay because of its rarity and investment potential. On Nantucket the animals ran free where, as in the wild, nature dictated which rams bred which ewes. In addition the  crossbred ewe that originated from the west coast  a single black welsh mountain ewe or ram (depending on who you talk to) also ran with the flock for at least one season.[3] According to The Rare Breeds Journal Poor, advertised the sheep for sale due to health problems in 1995 and approached fellow Bay Stater Ridgway Shinn about a partnership. Shinn, an organic farmer and an early enthusiast of heritage breeds, took most of the sheep to his Out of the Woods Farm in Hardwick, Massachusetts. In conjunction with Alliance Pastoral in France, Shinn worked to develop production systems and markets for organic meats, including Soay. Over the following years he sold sheep to a number of breeders on the east coast including Oak Knoll Farm in West Union, South Carolina and from there several made their way to Skylonda Ranch in Yoncalla, Oregon. Shinn sold the last of his flock about 2005.

The west coast

Hutka also sold Soay to a second Canadian zoo, The Red Barn in Edmonton, Alberta; another stop on its journey to the United States.[4]  Established as a private venture, the Red Barn was highly promoted but fell short of expectations and filed for bankruptcy and reorganization within five or six years. In 1985, presumably as part of the bankruptcy disposal, an American exotic animal dealer, Dean Lewis from Seaside, Oregon purchased “the last remaining Soay ram” and brought it to his farm in Oregon.[5]  This ram was bred to what he described in a 1991 sales flyer as “a group of ewes consisting of Barbados, Mouflon and crosses of Babados (sic),  Mouflon and others". He later added "every hair sheep he could find.”  The resulting thirty-one ewe lambs (all the males were culled) were then line bred for three years to his imported ram and a second ram he obtained in a 1989 trade with Robert Johnson of Georgia.

                          Dean Lewis lambs  photo by  Ingrid Painter Puddleduck Farm 1990

Lewis continued this upgrading program for several years. Eventually he began to sell breeding pairs as “exotic Soay” to a few individuals in California, Oregon and Washington, one reportedly for $15,000. (US). Some of their offspring were also exported  to a British Columbia breeder in Canada.[6]  Many of these composite sheep were larger in size than the original Soay, they began to lamb twice a year and some were gopher eared (earless). Most of the ewes were also polled. While this is characteristic of true Soay sheep none of the original imports from Scotland were carrying this recessive trait, but the Barbados, one of the breeds Lewis used, was. Black, which may have come from the Black Hawaiian, also began to appear.

Dean Lewis flock (note gopher ears) photo by Ingrid Painter Puddleduck Farm 1990

Disillusioned by the obvious introgression of other breeds many of Lewis's original customers either took their sheep to auction or sold them to yet another round of breeders. A number of those keepers crossed the sheep further and Lewis himself added more Mouflon in an attempt to widen their horns.    

                            Kathie Miller's original flock of Soay Sheep        photo by Kathie Miller 1996


While the original motive for importing the Soay in 1974 had been a genuine interest in saving an endangered breed, within a decade it had become a commodity in the exotic animal trade. Marketing pressures to produce as many expensive animals as possible to capture the market while the Soay was still a novelty overshadowed its unique qualities and genetic value. As the market became saturated misinformation and stories about the sheep’s origins continued to be passed on as breeders tried to sell their excess stock to new people. By the time enthusiasts bought Soay Sheep in the mid 1990’s, they sincerely believed their animals had come from the Winnipeg Zoo, which had gotten them directly from the islands of St. Kilda.      
Val Dambacher and Kathie Miller, both from southern Oregon and Kate Montgomery  from Port Townsend, Washington  were among these 1990s enthusiasts. Miller and Dambacher were neighbors who met in 1996 through a friend who had sold them both their first sheep. They realized early on that there was more the Soay's story than either of them had been told and they set out to uncover their actual North American history. Their investigation led them to the discovery of the second importation to Canada from England in 1990; a quarantined flock outside of Montreal. They sold the last of their original American flocks in 2001 and as Southern Oregon Soay Sheep Farms turned their attention to the "British Soay Sheep" in Montreal.  In the meantime Kate continued to develop her  distinct line of "Blue Mountain"  Soay, and after a decade managed to create a self colored (solid) blond animal, the first in the American Soay breed. She sold her sheep great with success  establishing flocks all over the US until her retirement in 2008. While American Soay are still readily available sadly no one has continued the work she began in 1997.


                                                      Chapter 2
                                                                   The 1990 Importation
                                                     British Soay Sheep

In 1989 Phoenix International Life Sciences, Inc., a start up contract research organization in Montreal, Canada purchased six RBST (Rare Breeds Survival Trust) registered Soay sheep from a breeder in England. The intended scientific purpose for keeping a research flock in Canada was to raise antibodies against new drugs for laboratory use. This involved giving the drug, attached to a protein, to the animal and then collecting blood a few weeks or months later to harvest the antibodies to the drug. The scientists at Phoenix had understood that because the Soay were reputed to be the descendants of the original European wild sheep, and because they had been isolated for a long time in the Scottish islands, they would have relatively primitive immune systems which would make them ideal for raising antibodies. This however, turned out to be untrue. After importing the sheep from the UK their business also went in another direction and as a result the sheep were never used for any scientific purpose. In spite of this Phoenix and in particular its CEO John Hooper supported the flock and maintained it for a decade.

Because there was no interest in breeding Soay for any commercial purpose, only a few ewes were bred each fall to keep the herd’s size constant at about 30, and with one exception, in 1997, no outside animals were ever introduced. Specialist consultants in England quietly arranged the complex and tricky process of exporting such a treasure from England to North America. The six sheep; two rams and four ewes underwent extensive preparation and veterinary inspections before they were transported to a British quarantine farm in December 1989. There they were kept in isolation for a month before they were flown to North America on January 10, 1990. Once in Canada, their quarantine continued at Montreal’s Mirabel Airport for a second month.  In the meantime, George Berci, who worked in a hospital laboratory in Montreal but who also had a small farm, made preparations for the arrival of the sheep.  His farm in Athelstan, Quebec was to serve as a private quarantine center where the animals would complete their five years of isolation. As part of these preparations Canadian government regulations required he remove all other sheep or goats from his property.  The six Soay; one tan horned ewe, one polled dark ewe, two dark rams and two dark horned ewes arrived at Berci’s Farm on March 15, 1990. [7]

Initially some American interest swirled around the flock as the American Minor Breeds Conservancy (now the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy) had been advised of the shipment. Robert Johnson of Georgia contacted the Canadians to inquire about importing Soay himself, which he hoped could also be kept in quarantine on the Berci farm for the five year waiting period. This was a plan to which Phoenix agreed, however, in May of 1990 an outbreak of BSE halted all livestock exports to North America from the UK which has never been reinstated. The initial flurry of interest died down and the sheep were all but forgotten in the US. Five years later (about the time the quarantine was lifted) Oregonian, Val Dambacher heard rumor of the flock’s existence while investigating the Soay sheep she had recently purchased. She was unable to obtain details of the transaction or locate the owners and so suspended her search.

Two years later, early in 1997, Dambacher (with an expertise in sheep husbandry and marketing) and Kathie Miller (with a background in historical research) met and discovered that they had a shared passion for Soay sheep. They pooled their talents and began to hunt for information about the origins of the Soay in North America. By pure coincidence Dambacher joined an international sheep list on the Internet.  A post appeared one day from England that caught her attention. A breeder wrote about their Soay, how many there were in the UK and how easy they were to maintain. A private e-mail discussion followed and Dambacher learned that her new British contacts were close friends with owners of a large commercial flock of Soay sheep and they in fact knew a great deal about the breed. This proved a turning point for the researchers, as concrete information was virtually non-existent in the United States.  Over the course of many conversations and after convincing the Britons of their passion and determination, the two partners were told that there had been a rather secret shipment of pure registered Soay to Quebec, Canada in 1990. Furthermore, if they were patient, a meeting could possibly be arranged.8] 

Six or seven months later, the new e-mail friends, who had spoken to the exporter in England and who in turn had obtained permission from the importers in Canada, advised the two women that they could contact the farmer about the purchase of a few sheep.  The “farmer” was George Berci and the nearly forgotten rumor had been true.  Berci was the lead that had eluded Dambacher two years earlier. A continuous stream of e-mails between Canada and Oregon ensued throughout the winter and spring and once Mr. Berci was convinced that the two Oregonians were passionate about the sheep he agreed to arrange the sale of a trio from Phoenix International Life Sciences.  Because he was disabled and in a wheel chair he asked that they come to his farm to help with arrangements for shipping. 

On July 11, 1998 Miller flew to Montreal and spent a week on the Berci farm learning about the imported flock. Mr. Berci patiently answered all of her questions, allowed her to take photographs and copy all of his records; including the Rare Breeds Survival Trust export permits for the original six animals. When July temperatures rose above the allowable limit of 85F degrees and the airlines informed Miller that the sheep could not be flown because of the heat, Mr. Berci offered to ship them later in the fall after the weather had cooled. As promised on October 14, 1998 two ram lambs and one four-year-old ewe arrived in two crates at the Portland International Airport. After inspection by a USDA (federal) veterinarian they cleared US customs and were transported to their new homes in southern Oregon.

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                           Phoenix flock at Berci's Farm in Athelstan, Canada, July 1998

By 1997 Mr. Berci, concerned about inbreeding, had arranged a trade for an outside ram with Blaire MacRae, an Alberta breeder.[9] This North American tup was used just one fall, 1997.   It was however, the sire of the two rams shipped  west in 1998. Aware that Dambacher and Miller’s primary interest was in conserving the Soay breed, Berci offered them a third ram lamb the following year [10].  While the first two were valuable for the bloodlines they introduced to the US, they would not meet the requirements (complete documentation back to the UK) needed for breed preservation. On October 20, 1999 a male lamb that would qualify and a second adult ewe were flown to Oregon.         

Later that fall, with help of contacts in England, photographs taken in Canada,  pedigrees (based on Mr. Berci’s records), copies of USDA import and British rare breeds export permits, Dambacher and Miller applied for three of the five animals’ enrollment in the RBST combined flock book. Because they could demonstrate the three sheep met all the necessary criteria, the application was approved. During the spring  of 2000 the first three British Soay lambs ever eligible for registration were born in Oregon and became part of the only flock of sheep outside Great Britain to be accepted by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust.  With these six animals Dambacher and Miller began to lay the groundwork for a genetic based conservation program. They established closer contact with England and Europe, developed a database and accurate record keeping system and began to build a network of preservation-minded US Soay keepers with whom they could exchange animals, information and ideas.  They also began an advertising campaign to introduce the concept of the breed to the American consumer.  In the meantime, their domestic (undocumented) ewes were bred to the imported purebred rams.  Under the name of Southern Oregon Soay Farms (S.O.S.)  these animals were marketed to small farmers, homesteaders and hobbyists who were interested in producing a hardy, organically raised animal but were not necessarily interested in participating in a global conservation program. These sheep they referred to as “North American Soay” (NAS) to distinguish them from the RBST (British) registered “British Soay”.

In April 2000 Mr. Berci contacted the two Oregon women to advise them that Phoenix would be ending his decade long contract for the care of the sheep; effective November of that year they would be available for purchase. The company, under new management and no longer using the animals, had decided to sell them.  Because importation from Britain was no longer an option, this would be the only opportunity to conserve the Soay in the Western Hemisphere and would allow US keepers to contribute to an international effort to save the breed from extinction. Negotiations continued through the summer while Dambacher and Miller made arrangements for transportation. Finally on the seventeenth of October 2000 nineteen sheep (four ram lambs, three ewe lambs and twelve ewes) left Canada by truck and arrived in southern Oregon six days later. As a precaution against an unforeseen catastrophe on any individual farm eight of the animals were sold to two other families in different parts of the country. The entire group, however, was registered with the Rare Breeds Survival Trust as the United States/Canadian foundation flock 2646- USA0001. It is the only RBST satellite flock outside of Great Britain. All have been enrolled in the USDA scrapie program. Three old ewes and one ram were left behind in Canada by the two Oregonians; these were sold to an Ontario breeder, but sadly died within a few months of being moved. Seven wethers were donated to Parc Safari in Hemingford, Quebec for zoological display and the rest, a few old wethers, stayed with Berci to live out their old age.   

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                        Members of the Phoenix flock in Oregon after six days of travel in a truck
                                        across the continent from Quebec , October 2000

During August of 2000 Dambacher and Miller traveled to the UK where they visited a number of private Soay flocks in England and Scotland and attended an international primitive sheep conference. There they met Soay keepers from Great Britain and other parts of Europe. In conjunction with the conference Miller also sailed with a group of eighteen to the Islands of St. Kilda where she spent three days exploring the archipelago, chatting with researchers and studying the sheep as they roamed Hirta and Soay. Return visits were made in 2003, 2004 and 2008.

As a result of this exposure and a wealth of resources not available to earlier US breeders, a sustainable conservation program could be developed; a program which was based upon a new understanding that the value of the Soay was in its wide genetic diversity and its history. With this insight the importance of maintaining an undiluted genetic reservoir for future generations became apparent. Such a core flock can serve as an insurance policy for those farmers who have inherited genetically narrow “improved” breeds which are geared to modern economic expediency. Frequently these newer strains are not capable of adapting to rapidly changing agricultural fashions and demands, challenges that older,  more diverse breeds often have the ability to meet.  Under increasing political pressure as a result of the BSE (Mad Cow Disease), Foot and Mouth and Scrapie scares in both Great Britain and parts of Europe, the Soay’s very existence may be threatened by various governments regulations. This makes international efforts to protect it even more urgent and places added importance to the flocks of British Soay that are now being kept on a small number of farms in North America.

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                                     A new generation, descendents of the Phoenix Flock
,                                                   Oregon, May 2005.



George Berci, Canada July 1998
C.M. Williams, Wales August 2000-present
A. Knowles, England August 2000, 2003, 2010
Jill Pilkington, Hirta August 2000, 2003, 2004, 2008

Interviews (telephone) Kathie Miller:
Mary Ellen & Bob Johnson, Georgia- Jan. 6, 1998
Bob Johnson, Georgia - June 1, 2000
Bob Johnson, Georgia - June 6, 2000
Dean Lewis, Oregon - December 31, 1999 and June 8, 2000
Val Dambacher, Oregon 1997-2000
Stan Brooks, Oregon - January 25, 1998
Blaire MacRae, Canada - January 13, 1998
Blaire MacRae, Canada - February 5, 2000
Jacque Rogers, Oregon- January 6, 1998
George Berci, Canada - 1998- present time
Jean Phalen, Oregon - December 29, 1999
Hans Fondenivel, Canada - February 5, 2000
M Bender, ALBC- June 2, 2000         
Joan Weeks, Mississippi - spring 2000
Mrs. Warren Ferriss (widow), Toledo, Iowa June 5, 2000
Matthew Pryce, Canada, October 2000
Judy Fitsimmons, Canada, October 2000
Jack Shier, Canada, January 2001
Tracy Teed,   Washington, January 2003

Interviews (telephone) Val Dambacher:
B. Driscoll, Oregon, October 21, 1998
Matthew Pryce, Canada, June 2000
Dean Lewis, Oregon 1995
Deb Moore, Washington 1995
Tracy Teed, Washington 1995

Letter:  to Kathie Miller from USDA Dept. of Agriculture. Freedom of Information, March 17, 1999
Letter:  to Elizabeth Henson, director AMBC from Clive G. Roots, Director Assiniboine Park Zoo, July 31, 1985
Letter:  to Eugen Hutka from Robert Johnson, August 30 1988
Letter:  to Eugen Hutka from Robert Johnson, January 1, 1989
Letter:  to Don Bixby from Mrs. Knowles, March 21, 1990
Letter:  to Mrs. Knowles from Robert Johnson April 16, 1990
Letter:  to Val Dambacher from Blaire MacRae (Canada), August 23, 1995
Letter:  to Val Dambacher from Mrs. Knowles (England), October 1997
Letter: to Kathie Miller from Diane Parkinson (England) June 20, 2000
Correspondence: between Kathie Miller and Blaire MacRae (Canada) 1998-2000
E-mail between Kathie Miller and George Berci, (Canada) 1998-2002
E-mail between Kathie Miller, Val Dambacher and Dr. Morris  (England) 1997-2000
E-mail between Kathie Miller and Ridge Shinn, (Massachusetts), July 2000
E-mail between Kathie Miller and C.M. Williams (Wales) 2000-present
E-mail between Kathie Miller and Eugen Hutka, 2003
E-mail between Kathie Miller and Assiniboine  Park Zoo, July 2005

Jewell, P. A., Milner, C., Boyd, J. Morton, Island Survivors the Ecology of the Soay Sheep of St. Kilda, Athlone Press, London, 1974

Ryder, ML, Sheep and Man, Gerald Duckworth and Company, Ltd., London 1983

Williamson, Kenneth and J. Morton Boyd, St. Kilda Summer, the Country Book Club, London, 1961

Johnson, Robert, photo, Sheep Magazine, Ram Showcase ‘88
Johnson, Robert, Letter to the Editor, The Shepherd, July 1989
Jewell, Peter, The Soay Sheep-Part 1, The Ark (RBST), February 1980
Jewell, Peter, The Soay Sheep-Part II, The Ark (RBST), 1980
Editor, Rare Export to Canada, The Ark (RBST), March 1990
Hollier, Jan, The Soay-Our Oldest Sheep, The Ark (RBST), July 1988
Szostak, Rosemarie, Stone-Age Fiber, Spin-Off, summer 1995
Mock, Robert, Soay Sheep Care and Management, Rare Breeds Journal, October    1995
Phalen, Jean, Soay Sheep, Rare Breeds Journal  (1985?) 
Lewis, Dean, World’s Smallest Sheep, Exotic News, January 1991
Leiss, Ramona, Wee Scottish Breed Link Between Wild and Domestic Sheep, Classic Critters (Canada), June 1993 
Website, Phoenix Life Sciences International, Montreal Canada 2000
Website, Assiniboine Park Zoo, Winnipeg, Canada 2000
Website, Out of the Woods Farm, Hardwick, Mass.  2000

Advertisement, Rare Breeds Journal- Bruce Poor (1995)
Unsworth, Roy, Notes, Soay Workshop held at Cotswold Farm Park, 16 October 1999
unpublished animal records, Highland Wildlife Park, Kingussie, Scotland August 2005
unpublished animal  records, Edinburgh Zoo, Edinburgh, Scotland August 2005
Personal communication, Dr. Graham Gunn, Scotland 2010

[1] An article in the March 1990 issue of the ARK states that the 1990 export from the UK was the first in 50 years. This would lead one to believe that another export took place in 1940. This was not the case.  The article's author, unfamiliar with the Soay's history, confused it with 1974.

[2] Warren Ferriss of Toledo, Iowa also purchased animals directly from the Winnipeg Zoo, but they had died shortly after their arrival. Hutka, who dealt with a wide variety of animals, is known to have also kept Barbados and Mouflon sheep along with the Soay. While rumors abound that he that he may have kept several breeds together resulting in crossbreeding,  Mr. Hutka vehemently denied this was the case. [pers.comm. Hutka, 2003]

[3]  According to Johnson a single Black Welsh Mountain ram also ran with the Soay on Nantucket for a single breeding season, however Bruce Poor later informed me (in 2007) that it was instead a Black Welsh Mountain ewe but she was culled after one season. A crossbred, upgraded ewe that Bob and Mary Ellen had obtained in a trade with Oregonian Dean Lewis in 1989 was also part of the flock (as well as her two sons) when it was sold to Poor.

[4]According to Assiniboine Park Zoo records [pers.comm. APZ, 2005] the Northern Alberta Game Farm outside of Edmonton received four Soay in September 1980 directly from the zoo. It is possible that this was the source of Dean Lewis's purebred ram in 1985.  However, a link between the "Red Barn of Edmonton" and Northern Alberta Game Farm has not yet been established. Whether or not Mr. Hutka sold sheep to private parties in Canada is not known. In April 1989 an unidentified woman in Ontario contacted the American Minor Breeds Conservancy in the U.S. hoping to locate a buyer for nine Soay sheep that she had to sell. AMBC (now ALBC) records also mention other potential Soay contacts in Ontario, one possibly with the Ontario Humane Society. While these clues proved fruitless, one is still inclined to speculate that Hutka could have sold sheep to other Canadians; although they could not have complete records and their purity could not be assured, the chance of Winnipeg Soay progeny existing in Canada cannot be ruled out. 

[5]  Stories of "Casanova," a second pure Canadian ram entering the United States through Washington State persisted for a time, but have now been discredited as a hoax .

[6] In 1990 Dick Gardiner, a rare animal breeder from Langley, British Columbia, (who specialized in miniatures) imported his first Soay from the United States through contacts at the Pacific National Exhibition in Vancouver. This stock had originated with Dean Lewis in Oregon. Gardiner mistakenly believed at the time, he was the only Soay breeder in Canada. The Phoenix flock had been imported to Montreal earlier the same year. The Gardiner animals were later sold to Jack Shier and Cameron Graham (possibly others) in neighboring Alberta about 1993.  Blaire MacRae ultimately purchased Graham’s flock in 1995 from an advertisement in a local newspaper. Five years later, in October 2000, the entire MacRae flock was sold.  Eight of the “best” sheep [his term] including the British registered ewe "Pansey" from Mr. Berci (the ram "Diamond"   had died shortly after arrival), were sent to the Alberta Chapter of Rare Breeds Canada. Several buyers at auction purchased the remainder of the herd of almost eighty, a number of which were shipped to Ontario. The ewe "Pansey" died in Canada in July of 2002. That same summer a few remaining members of the flock that had originated with Dick Gardiner's importation from Oregon a decade earlier were exported back into the United States, bringing them full circle. Mr. Shier sold his flock in 2002.

[7] In 1963 Peter Jewell’s Soay Research team “brought back a bunch of sheep from Hirta. They comprised a selection of colors, and ewes with and without horns, and even some animals showing white markings, that were representative of the animals as we encountered them on Hirta.”  (Soay Sheep-Part II, the Ark, 92, 1980).  These sheep Dr. Jewell referred to as “Hirta Soay” to distinguish them from the “Park Soay” which had been kept in mainland game parks and selectively bred since the later part of the nineteenth century.  Ultimately several breeders in the UK acquired remnants of Jewell’s Hirta flock. Some of the sheep purchased by Phoenix, can be traced to this Hirta flock and  were representative of its mixture.  The first lamb born on the Berci farm had white face markings. Quarantine regulations stated that the original sheep imported from England could never leave Berci's farm, but after five years their offspring could. 

[8]  With the hope of avoiding controversy and apprehensive about the possibility of interference from British animal rights activists, the shipment of Scotland’s once endangered Soay sheep to a North American research organization was arranged quietly.  This shipment, only the second ever to North America, was not announced in the press until several months after its departure.

[9] In exchange MacRae received a pair from Phoenix

[10]  Unbeknownst to Mr. Berci at the time of the trade, the source of MacRae’s ram "Fergus" had been crossbred/upgraded stock from Oregon. 

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