History of Welsh sheep uncovered

Credit: Nick Potts/PA Archive/PA Images

They may have been domesticated 10,000 years ago but the genetic past of Welsh sheep has been uncovered by researchers at Aberystwyth University.

They studied eighteen native breeds and found four distinct groups.

Some breeds, like the Black Welsh Mountain Sheep, saw their genetic history mapped back to Scandinavia. They were brought here by the Vikings.

The Llandovery White Face saw its roots traced back to Roman times.

The study even found that one particular breed of sheep, exclusively from the Llyn peninsula in northwest Wales, can trace its genetics back to a single, small flock of sheep in Galway, Ireland from the early 19th century.

Credit: Tim Ireland/PA Wire

“These findings provide the basis for future genome-wide association studies and a first step towards developing genomics assisted breeding strategies in the UK.”

– Sarah Beynon, Aberystwyth University