HERDWICK SHEEP producers are set to benefit from a marketing project that aims to raise the national profile of the Lake District breed.

Lakeland Herdwick Direct, launched in Grasmere this week with the help of the Herdwick Sheep Breeders Association and the National Trust, will make Herdwick meat accessible by mail order and hopes to earn premium prices for farmers hard-hit by a big reduction in flock numbers to comply with environmental grazing schemes.

“We want to link Herdwick producers with consumers and capitalise on the popularity of the Lake District landscape and its cultural heritage,” said Veronica Waller of the Cumbria Fells and Dales Leader+ programme that has instigated the scheme.

She said lower stocking levels and CAP changes could lead to abandonment of vast tracts of upland, which would be detrimental to the environment if action was not taken.

A group of Herdwick producers – from the 120 farms running Herdwick flocks in the Lake District – will supply the new scheme that will use the small slaughterhouse of local butchers HC Airey and Sons to prepare and distribute orders.

It is expected there will be a big demand for Herdwick shearlings, which have a distinct, mature flavour.