The Portland is a heathland breed from the
Dorset area, and linked to the Wessex tan-faced
group of sheep.
Portlands are relatively small - a typical ewe weighs 38-40kg.
The average weight of adult rams is 55kg (at three years old
and body condition 3), rarely exceeding 66kg and 65cm at the
withers. The body of a Portland is of a primitive type within the Downs breeds, with good width between the legs. The tail is long and set well up on the rump.
The legs are fine boned with an even tan colour. The front legs and hind legs below the hock should be free from wool. The hooves should be uniformly dark, small and straight.
The face is a tan colour, but may have lighter areas around the eyes and muzzle. The nose is dark. Some sheep carry a light covering of wool on the forehead, but the rest of the face is free from wool. Horns are light coloured; those of the ram are heavily spiralled; in ewes they curve through a half circle. There is often a black line in one or both horns.
Lambs are born with a foxy red coat which changes in the first few months to creamy white. The wool is close and fine with a short staple, though some red kemp fibres should be found on the britch.
The breed produces exceptionally high quality meat with fine texture and excellent flavour. The Portland can lamb at any time of year, but usually produces a single lamb.
A programme of ram measurements was undertaken by Richard Broad and provided data which has been used to amend the Breed Description as follows:
"The Portland is a small animal (average weight adult ewe 38-40 kg). The average weight of adult rams is 55kg (at three years old and body condition 3), rarely exceeding 66kg and 65cm at the withers."
This amendment is included in the Combined Flock Book 2011 and has appeared in the RBST magazine, The Ark.