Mountain pastures occupy over a quarter of the half million acres in County Wicklow, Ireland. The mountain range, the slopes of which form the pastures, extends from the lowlands of the North-East where the Sugar Loaf rises, to where the South Western slopes of Lugnaquilla and Keadeen merge into the plains of Carlow and borders of Wexford and west to Hollywood and the Kildare borders.
The Wicklow Mountains have been renowned from the earliest times for the native sheep, which are of a distinct type and have been indigenous to these mountains for centuries. The mountainous environment, combined with skilful breeding, have evolved the Wicklow Mountain breed.
The breed possesses a number of valuable characteristics such as extreme hardiness and freedom from foot rot and other diseases to which sheep are generally subject; and the ewes, as well as being prolific, are particularly good nurses.
The breeding and promotion of Wicklow Mountain sheep takes two forms:
Breeding and Sale of Purebred registered Ewes and Rams through the Wicklow Mountain Sheep Breeders Society
Improving the profitability of farms that have Wicklow Cheviots or their crosses. This is handled by the Wicklow Cheviot Sheep Owners Association, a group of 100s of members that runs commercial and lobbying activities on behalf of sheep farmers