About Us

A History of the Four Jays Dorset Down Flock

John and Jill Swain moved from the bright lights of Bris­tol some years ago, to a typ­i­cal Som­er­set cot­tage in a small vil­lage near Weston-​Super-​Mare. The cot­tage did not have elec­tric­ity or a bath­room but it did have 3 acres with a rhyne bisect­ing it. For 3 years they lived in 2 car­a­vans in the mid­dle of the field, with only a beach don­key for com­pany, but he had to be returned to work.

What to do with the field?

Even­tu­ally we decided on pedi­gree sheep in the hope that many would go for breed­ing. We went to the Bath and West Show and sought the advice of the then Meat Research Insti­tute. They sug­gested Dorset Down Sheep as being docile and happy in small pad­docks and a prime ter­mi­nal sire. We walked past hun­dreds of sheep and found the Dorset Downs and fell in love. They were like a Thel­well sheep, lovely brown faces and round cud­dly bod­ies, look­ing like proper tra­di­tional sheep. Even more impres­sive, a Dorset Down was judged supreme cham­pion at the Show. Lit­tle did we dream that in the future we would breed our own supreme champions.

Over the years we have man­aged to buy more land around us, end­ing up with over 40 acres; one field cost­ing more than the orig­i­nal cot­tage! This meant we could increase the size of our flock.

We thought we would ini­tially try buy­ing off-​farm and this is what I would rec­om­mend to prospec­tive buy­ers. This allows you to see the sheep in it’s envi­ron­ment and meet the seller. My pedi­gree sheep are my friends and are usu­ally relaxed around strangers. I always say ″Let the sheep choose you!″

Our ini­tial flock con­sisted of 8 hope­fully preg­nant ewes and a ram lamb from a Som­er­set farmer, along with 8 ewes from Berwick-​upon-​Tweed. They were all broken-​mouth, i.e. older ewes but with care­ful han­dling went on for many years.