The Boreray is a primitive breed of sheep of the Northern short-tailed group of breeds which sheds its fleece naturally by July, under normal breeding conditions. They have a close geographical and social link with Soay Sheep, but the two breeds are genetically different. Boreray Sheep are the descendants of the domestic sheep which were kept by the St. Kildans. When the inhabitants evacuated Hirta (the main island of St. Kilda), in 1930, all their domestic stock was evacuated with them. Any stock left on the island was killed, but a replacement flock of domestic sheep had been kept on the island of Boreray. These sheep have lived feral ever since. In recent years a small group was taken off the island and the descendants of that small group are now registered with the Rare Breeds Survival Trust. Boreray sheep are classified as ‘at risk’ on the RBST Watchlist.
The sheep are a unique breed, being descendants of the now extinct Scottish Tan Face with some infusion of Hebridean Blackface.
The wool is predominantly cream or light-tan in colour, with a small proportion of sheep having grey or dark brown wool (animals can be born completely black or with large patches of black, but these usually change to cream or light-tan, though occasionally these animals stay black). There is sometimes a dark rump patch, and a dark collar, particularly in rams.
The face and legs are black, tan, or grey, often with dark blotches on a white background. Both sexes are usually horned and the horns of the rams are large and spiralled, ewes may occasionally be scurred or polled .
Mature ewes weigh approximately 30kg and stand approximately 55cm at the withers.