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About Hog Island SheepAbout Hog Island Sheep

About 200 years ago, a flock of sheep was established on Hog Island, one of Virginia's barrier islands located off its Eastern Shore. The sheep were already native to the area and are believed to have had a substantial amount of Merino blood in them. There were occasional subsequent introductions to the population, the last being in 1953, when a Hampshire ram was taken to the island. In 1974, the island was sold to The Nature Conservancy, which decided to remove all the sheep and cattle.

Gunston Hall Plantation in Fairfax County, Virginia, eventually became the owner of the greater number of these sheep and exhibited them as part of their replication of 18th century plantation life. Hog Island sheep evolved and survived for over 200 years in an extremely harsh environment on a limited diet and no medical attention. It is estimated that there are approximately 200 Hog Island breeding ewes, mostly in Virginia.


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