The breed originates from the hills around the small town of Kerry, on the English/Welsh borders. Once extremely numerous, numbers since declined and the Kerry Hill was until recently included on a list of Rare Breeds. However, this striking sheep is making a comeback, thanks mainly to its attractiveness to small-holders, who greatly admire their striking characteristics.

The breed has developed substantially in its long history and is now a sheep of bold, strong type, with ewes proving themselves as excellent mothers. The wool is a white, dense quality fleece, free from kemp and it is classed with the Down breeds for marketing purposes. 

The present day Kerry Hill Sheep should have the following physical characteristics: 

  • Markings: The sheep should have a black and white face, odd spot on face acceptable. Legs should also be black and white. 
  • Ears: Black, Black and White or White. Medium length, set high, free from wool. 
  • Neck: Strong and muscular, well set into the shoulders. 
  • Throat: Nicely curved and woolled, with no loose skin. 
  • Teeth: Not overshot or undershot. Incisor teeth must bite on all inner surfaces. 
  • Horns: Can occur genetically, but not desirable. 
  • Ribs: Deep and well sprung, with good heart girth. 
  • Back: Strong, level, firm to handle, wide loin, with plenty of length from hip-bone to tail. 
  • Hind-Quarters: Wide and deep, well fleshed to hocks. 
  • Tail: Hock length is the breed standard. Well set on, strong dock, free from dark or blue spots. 
  • LegsFront – well set, with strong bone, enough width but straight, clear of wool. Rear – plenty of width, clear of wool – must not be Cow, Sickle or Turkey hocked. 
  • Feetfront pasterns – No excessive length on joints. Short strong joints can carry weight. Rear pasterns – Not down on pasterns or long joints. Well-trimmed feet – sheep can walk properly. 
  • Skin: Pink or red, free from black or blue spots or tint. 
  • Wool: A white dense quality fleece free from kemp. Should be clean, a small amount of black is acceptable but undesirable. If very black or grey the sheep should be rejected. 
  • BoneMale – enough bone for the scale of the sheep, but not fine and spindly. Female – not too fine, but not heavy of bone. Neither should be weak behind the shoulder. 
  • Males – Testicles the same size and wool free. Must be sound underneath
  • Females – Udder etc must be sound unless declared othersiwe at shows or sales. 
  • Carriage: the sheep should meet one boldly, standing square. Sheep must walk freely not lame or stiff. It is easy to check for footrot.


Council members have put together the following points and ask that all members take these on board whether judging or exhibiting.


The preparation of sheep before shows or sales is of vital importance, in order for the sheep to be seen at its best.