Did you know that almost all sheep descended from the Mouflon, a wild sheep with long, harsh hair with soft down underneath?
Although these sheep are now limited in number (it’s estimated that just over 12% of all the world’s sheep are hair sheep breeds), there are numerous reasons why you would want to raise one of them.
If you’re looking for a hardy, heat-tolerant breed of sheep that doesn’t need to be sheared, then hair sheep breeds are a great option.
Hair sheep are a low-maintenance alternative to traditional wool breeds, and they can provide great meat for your family.
This guide will explore the top hair sheep breeds and discuss some of their key features.
Whether you’re a beginning farmer or an experienced shepherd, you’re sure to find hair sheep breeds that fit your needs and lifestyle.
So, let’s dive in!
This is the first on our list of hair sheep breeds. The Africana sheep is not the most common kind of hair sheep you can raise but it is one of the most heat-tolerant.
It is native to Venezuela and Colombia, primarily raised for meat. It is also a polled breed.
Also known as the Laudom or White Arab sheep, this large breed is found predominantly in Africa, in countries like Senegal, Mali, and Mauritania.
It is raised both for dairy and meat production and, at first glance, looks more like a goat than a sheep.
In fact, the Touabire sheep have lop ears and a somewhat gaunt appearance. Males have horns, while ewes tend to be polled.
Another uncommon on our hair sheep breeds list is the Uda, an African long-legged sheep native to Cameroon, Nigeria, Niger, and Chad.
There are several varieties of this hair sheep, which are typically raised for meat. Most are brown/black and white. Ewes are polled, while rams are horned.
4. American Blackbelly
The American Blackbelly is closely linked to the Barbados Blackbelly. This breed and the Mouflon or Rambouillet sheep were crossed to create it.
The American does have horns, which is the fundamental distinction between it and the Barbados Blackbelly. These are typically curved and lengthy.
The Maasai, sometimes known as the Red Maasai, is a sheep breed raised for its meat.
It is typically raised by farmers in East Africa, including the Maasai in Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania, and has a fat tail.
6. West African Dwarf
West and Central Africa are home to the West African Dwarf sheep. Mostly reared for meat, West African Dwarf ewes often give birth to a single or pair of twins.
One of the oldest breeds of short-tailed sheep, Romanov sheep, are known for their large size and excellent fertility.
Unlike other sheep, they tend to lamb in litters and are normally only prone to twin births.
Triplets, quadruplets, quintuplets, and even sextuplets have occasionally arrived in the Romanov family.
These domestic hair sheep are a special breed since they originate from a colder region than other domestic sheep types.
Romanov sheep, one of the oldest short-tailed sheep breeds, are renowned for their enormous size and exceptional fertility. In contrast to other sheep, they frequently lamb in the litter.
8. St. Croix
This is the next on our list of hair sheep breeds. St. Croix sheep are indigenous to the Virgin Islands island of St. Croix, as implied by their name alone. As a result, they are also occasionally called St. Croix sheep.
These sheep, which come in different shades of white, black, and brown, are descended from African sheep that were transported to the Caribbean on slave ships.
Instead of producing wool, they grow hair. They are normally polled without horns and are largely parasite-resistant.
9. Blackhead Persian
Blackhead Persian sheep are indigenous to Somalia and the Caribbean. They have stocky, compact bodies, big rumps, and an unusual appearance for sheep.
Although they produce great meat, these sheep have a reputation for having some problems during lambing. If you want to raise these sheep as breeders, you might need to give extra help.
10. California Red
Of all of the hair sheep breeds, though, California Reds may require more management regarding their fiber.
Although they are considered hair sheep, they also put on a bit of wool, so minimal shearing may be necessary at times.
In fact, these sheep were bred from Tunis and Barbados Blackbelly sheep in an effort to produce a hair-sheep breed similar to the Barbados Blackbelly but with the out-of-season breeding qualities of the Tunis.
11. Wiltshire Horn
A breed of domestic sheep from Wiltshire, England, the Wiltshire Horn is reared largely for meat and sheds its short wool and hair coat in the spring.
These sheep are noted for their great fecundity and good mothering qualities. Lambs are ready for slaughter in as little as 16 weeks.
12. Barbados Blackbelly
This sheep is rated for meat output, with the average ewe reaching up to 160 lbs. Rams can tip the scales at 250 lbs!
These sheep are recognized to produce twin lambs and do not have to be shared. Instead, they lose their winter coats.
This sheep is ranked for meat output, with the average ewe reaching up to 160 lbs. Rams can tip the scales at 250 lbs!
These sheep are identified to produce twin lambs and do not have to be shared. Instead, they lose their winter coats.
Katahdin sheep were produced in Maine, named after the state’s greatest peak. Bred throughout the latter part of the 20th century, the Katahdin is a descendant of the St. Croix sheep and various other breeds, notably the Suffolk.
This sheep is regarded for meat output, with the average ewe reaching up to 160 lbs. Rams can tip the scales at 250 lbs!
These sheep are renowned for producing twin lambs and do not have to be shared. Instead, they lose their winter coats.
14. Royal White
This is the last on our list of hair sheep breeds. The Royal White is a hair breed with a unique body shape.
It holds itself close to the ground, helping it lose very little heat during times of inclement weather.
Rams weigh around 200 to 230 lbs on average, while ewes are almost as large. The lambs are fast-growing and known to produce high-quality meat, too.
Hair sheep breeds are gaining popularity, as they are easy to care for and require minimal shearing.
With so many breeds to choose from, it can be overwhelming to figure out which hair sheep breed is best for your needs.
To help you out, this article is a guide to the top hair sheep breeds. We have discussed the unique characteristics of each breed and how they compare to other breeds.
You’ll better understand which hair sheep breed is right for you by now.