Manx Loaghtan (pronounced Manx Lockton) is a mountain breed which originally hailed from isolated parts of Northern Europe, pre-dating the the Vikings. Hardy, and impressive with four to six horns, it is now classified as “at risk”. Due to modern-day industrialized farming methods, many breeds once common in the U.K. are now isolated and near extinct. Still one of the rarest breeds in the British Isles, the Manx Loaghtan has neared extinction three times, but present-day efforts are increasing its numbers.
The Manx Loaghtan has a beautiful striking brown fleece, but the mutton is highly prized as a healthy, low fat meat, superior to commercial lamb, and it is therefore raised primarily for meat. It lives on The Isle of Man, although the breed was once spread broadly throughout the Shetland Islands, the Hebrides, and Scotland.
Once white, greys, and black, today’s “Loaghton” is the word for the brown “moorit” color. The word “Lugh” (meaning mouse) was married with the word “dhoan” (brown), or “lhost dhoan” (translated to “burnt brown”). The color is recessive and is therefore a lasting characteristic of the breed. Because the Manx Loaghtan are raised for meat, their wool and garments made from it, are highly prized. It is soft, light, and very warm. For an interesting read, the Secretary of the Manx Loaghtan Breeders Group sells a comprehensive history of the breed entitled Manx Loaghtan Story by Peter Wade-Martin (1990).