15 Different Types of Sheep Breeds

Different Types of Sheep Breeds
Photo by Mauricio Fanfa

A sheep, often just called a lamb, is an animal that produces wool and meat. You may be surprised to learn several different types of sheep breeds, and all of these can be used for both purposes, depending on your goals as an owner. 

Furthermore, Sheep are an essential part of the agricultural industry in many countries. Their wool is used to make sweaters, blankets, and milk that you can transform into cheese or even yogurt!

However, many different types of sheep breeds serve other purposes, such as meat or wool production. 

This article will go over the details of 15 different types of sheep breeds. This article will explain the uniqueness of each type so you can make an informed decision about which type will work best for you.

1. Merino Wool Sheep 

Merino wool sheep are some of the world’s most famous, thanks to their high-quality wool. These sheep are initially from Spain and were brought to Australia in the early 1800s. Merino wool is known for being soft, durable, and breathable, making it ideal for various clothing items. 

However, there are many different types of merino wool, each with unique characteristics. For example, superfine or superfine merino wool has a thread count of 17-22 per inch, and fine or medium merino wool has a thread count between 18-19 per inch. 

Additionally, medium wools have higher durability than superfine or superfine wools. Medium wools can also be more expensive because they take longer to produce. Another popular type of merino wool is Corriedale.

Furthermore, Corriedale has long fibers that give the fabric extra durability without compromising on the quality of the fabric’s softer feel. The merino wool sheep is among the breeds with that extra touch for wool production.

2. Rambouillet Sheep

Rambouillet sheep are a French breed that was first developed in the 1800s. They’re large, with both ewes and rams typically weighing over 200 pounds.

The wool from Rambouillet sheep is often used in high-end fabrics and clothing, as it’s soft and lustrous. Furthermore, this b reed is also known for being adaptable to different climates and relatively disease-resistant.

Rambouillet sheep are a French breed that was developed in the 1800s. They’re large, with both ewes and rams weighing around 200 pounds.

Also, the wool from Rambouillet sheep is some of the finest, and it’s often used in high-end garments. These sheep are also known for their excellent mothering instincts and ability to thrive in various climates. To learn more about the different types of sheep breeds, keep reading!

3. Suffolk Sheep

Suffolk sheep are a British breed developed in the county of Suffolk in the early 19th century. They are one of the different types of sheep breeds that are large, docile animals with black faces and legs.

Suffolk sheep are known for their high-quality wool, used to make clothing and other textiles. Additionally, these sheep grow wool all year round, so you must shear them annually.

Traditionally, they were shorn twice yearly – once in the spring and again at the end of summer.  More recently, many farmers have changed over to an annual shearing schedule.

4. Hampshire Sheep

Hampshire sheep are a medium to a large-sized breed known for their high-quality meat. They have black faces and legs with a white body and are one of the most popular breeds in the United States.

Hampshire sheep are hardy and adaptable, making them a good choice for commercial and hobby farms. Furthermore, they are found across America on farms and in large numbers on Native American reservations.

Hampshire sheep produce excellent quality lamb, which fetches a higher price than other breeds. The Hampshire sheep is at a higher price because it has less intramuscular fat than different types of lamb. 

In addition, they have an average birth weight of 12 pounds and can live up to 12 years. The Hampshire is one of the different types of sheep breeds that could fetch more money if you own a commercial lamb farm.

5. Katahdin Sheep

Katahdin sheep are a hardy, adaptable breed well-suited to various climates and terrain. They are known for their docile nature and easy-to-care-for fleece. Katahdins are relatively new to the sheep world, having been developed in the early 1900s in Maine. 

However, today, they are one of the most popular meat sheep breeds in North America. Which of these different types of sheep breeds will you consider choosing? Let’s find out more.

6. Dorper Sheep

A Dorper is a South African breed of sheep developed in the 1930s, and it is a cross between the Dorset Horn and the Blackhead Persian. The Dorper is a docile, hardy breed well-suited to arid conditions. 

In addition, it has short, black hair and is polled (hornless). Dorpers are easy to care for and have excellent mothering instincts. They are also one of the most prolific breeds, with ewes often having twins or triplets. 

Another plus about this breed is its resistance to diseases such as foot rot, scab, and fly strike. Having one of these disease-resistant different types of sheep breeds will help in case of a disease outbreak.

7. Dorset Sheep

A heritage breed from England, Dorset sheep, are known for their docile temperament and ease of lambing. They’re a popular choice for farmers looking to raise sheep for both meat and wool production.

Dorset sheep are relatively small, with ewes weighing around 200 pounds and rams at 250 pounds. Additionally, their fleece is medium-wool, with a staple length of three to five inches.

The wool is white with a slight luster and is classified as long wool. Dorset sheep is one of the different types of sheep breeds known for high-quality meat, which is lean and tender.

8. Texel Sheep

The Texel is a popular sheep breed known for its meat production. This breed originated on the island of Texel, off the coast of the Netherlands. The Texel is a large breed, with ewes weighing up to 240 pounds and rams weighing up to 350 pounds. 

Furthermore, this breed has a thick, lustrous coat that can be white, black or moorit (a dark brown) in color. The Texel is a hardy breed that does well in cold and hot climates.

This breed is also one of the different types of sheep breeds known for its calm temperament and easygoing nature.

9. Valais Blacknose

The Valais Blacknose is a Swiss breed of sheep known for its distinctive black face. These sheep are relatively new, developed in the late 19th century, and they are dual-purpose animals, raised both for their meat and wool. 

In addition, Valais Blacknose sheep are hardy and adaptable, able to thrive in various climates and terrain. They are also good mothers with high milk production. The Valais Blacknose is one of the different types of sheep breeds with exceptional breed qualities.

10. Romanov

Romanov sheep are a rare breed and one of the different types of sheep breeds that is endangered. They are known for their unique coloration, black with white spots. Romanovs are also one of the oldest breeds of sheep, having been around for over 400 years. 

Although they were once widespread in Russia, their numbers have dwindled recently. However, there are efforts underway to save this unique breed.

Organizations like the Canadian Livestock Conservancy and Rare Breeds Canada are working to maintain its gene pool and preserve it.

11. Scottish Blackface

Scottish Blackface sheep are a type of hill sheep that originates from the Scottish Highlands. They are one of the most common types of sheep breeds in the UK and are known for their black faces and legs.

Blackface sheep are used for both meat and wool production. Also, they are hardy animals that can survive in harsh conditions, making them well-suited to hill farming.

Despite this, they tend to be docile and calm. It is not uncommon for people with busy lifestyles to keep Blackface sheep as pets on small plots of land.

12. Herdwick

Herdwick sheep is one of the different types of sheep breeds native to the Lake District in Cumbria, England. They are also known as Cumbrian or Cumberland sheep.

Herdwicks are one of the hardiest breeds of sheep, able to withstand harsh conditions on the fells where they graze. 

Furthermore, they are known for their docile nature and intelligent behavior. It is said that when climbing mountains with this breed, they need no help from humans. A flock of Herdwick sheep will carefully find its way up an otherwise impassable slope by instinct alone. 

Also, Herdwicks were traditionally sheared only once a year, and when they were shorn, they produced enough wool to make two suits of clothing. The wool could make one for themselves and one for somebody else. 

13. Jacob Sheep

Jacob sheep are a multi-colored breed of sheep that originated in the UK. They are characterized by their four horns, which can be either black, white, or brown.

Jacob’s sheep are known for being friendly and docile, making them a popular choice for farmers. However, they do not have as much wool as other breeds and have very little fat, so you must feed them carefully.

Jacob sheep have been around since 1811 and have become an endangered species. In 1952  bloodlines were imported from North America, making them less endangered. 

Today, Jacob’s sheep are found mainly in Great Britain and New Zealand. If you have one of these different types of sheep breeds, you must ensure they are appropriately bred and catered for.

14. Wiltipoll

Wiltipoll sheep are a dual-purpose breed, meaning they’re raised for meat and wool. They’re a large breed, with ewes weighing around 200 pounds and rams around 250 pounds.

The wool is white and relatively delicate, making it ideal for spinning into yarn. Furthermore, Wiltipolls are known for being good mothers and easy lambers.

They are one of the different types of sheep breeds that produce plenty of milk and have high fertility rates. So you can expect twins or triplets on average from each lambing season. 

15. Sarda Sheep

Sarda sheep are a native breed to the island of Sardinia, Italy. They are large-framed with both short and long fleece coats. The wool from Sarda sheep is considered high-quality and is often used in textile production. 

Additionally, it is one of the different types of sheep breeds known for its resistance to parasites. The first documented mention of Sarda sheep dates back to 1692. It is thought that they descended from Roman sheep brought to the island by Roman colonists. 

However, the breed was nearly wiped out during World War II but now has been successfully reintroduced through selective breeding.

Breeders carried these selective breeding efforts out on the Island of Sardinia. Today there are about 500 registered individuals left in existence.

Conclusion

A variety of sheep breeds are available, each with unique characteristics. When choosing a breed, you must consider your needs and goals. Do you want a sheep that produces a lot of wool? Or is it known for its meat? With so many sheep breeds, you’re sure to find the perfect one for your farm.

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