16 Wool Producing Sheep Breeds

Wool Producing Sheep Breeds
Photo by Stefan Widua

Wool producing sheep breeds may not be the first animals to mind when considering animals to raise on your farm.

Still, they can make an excellent choice if you diversify your farm’s animal population while earning extra money. 

When raising sheep, you know how important it is to understand the different breeds. Different breeds have other qualities, require varying work, and yield different results in the end!

If you’re thinking about adding some wool producing sheep breeds to your farm, here are 16 worth looking into.

1. American Cormo

The American Cormo is a medium-wool, dual-purpose sheep developed in the United States in the 1970s. It is a cross between the Corriedale and Merino breeds. The American Cormo has a white face and legs with a black body. 

The fleece is very dense and crimpy, making it ideal for spinning into yarn. This breed is known for its hardiness and ability to thrive in various climates.

This may be the right breed for you if you’re looking for a wool producing sheep breeds that can handle varied conditions!

2. Booroola Merino

The Booroola Merino is an Australian wool producing sheep breed developed in the 1980s. It is a cross between a Finnsheep and a Merino and is known for its high fertility and prolificacy. 

The Booroola Merino produces a lot of wool, which is fine and soft. The fleece typically weighs between 8-12 pounds (3.6-5.4 kg). The Booroola Merino is a good choice for farmers who want to quickly increase the size of their flock.

3. Australian Merino

The Australian Merino is one of the most popular wool producing sheep breeds. They are adaptable to many climates, making them a good choice for farmers in many regions.

Merinos have high-quality wool that is often used in high-end garments. The downside to raising Merinos is that they require more care than other breeds.

These wool producing sheep breeds can be susceptible to health problems if not well cared for. With this breed, you’ll need to brush their wool regularly, so it doesn’t become matted or dirty.

4. Lincoln Sheep

The Lincoln sheep is a British wool producing sheep breed developed in the early 1800s. The wool from this breed is known for being lustrous, strong, and of medium length.

This breed is also known for being good mothers and having high-quality meat. The Lincoln may be a good option if you’re looking for a dual-purpose sheep.

They are a hardy breed with an abundance of wool, and the Lincoln sheep will produce more than enough wool without affecting their ability to have large litters.

5. Debouillet Sheep

The Debouillet sheep is an American wool-producing sheep developed in the early twentieth century. It was derived from Rambouillet ewes from France and mated with Rambouillet rams imported from Mexico.

The Debouillet is a dual-purpose breed, raised both for meat and wool. The fleece is of medium length and quality, yielding around seven kilograms annually.

The fleece is mainly used for clothing, and the Debouillet is considered a good mothering sheep and an excellent forager. 

It has a high resistance to fly strike (a parasitic condition) but can be sensitive to hoof rot. The flock has been bred mainly for use on pastureland; consequently, it doesn’t produce as much milk as other breeds. 

6. Polwarth

The Polwarth is a British wool producing sheep breeds derived from a cross between the Cheviot and the Lincoln Longwool.

It was developed in the late 19th century as a dual-purpose sheep for meat and wool production. The Polwarth has since been exported to many countries and is now raised primarily for its wool. 

The fleece is of medium length, with softness and luster similar to that of merino wool. It is used mainly in the manufacture of worsted fabrics such as tweed. 

However, it is also used for carpets and blankets. The number of Polwarths has decreased significantly since their introduction, but they are still found worldwide.

7. Cotswold Sheep

Cotswolds produce a lot of wool – up to 12 pounds per year! That’s a lot of fiber for spinning and other crafts. Cotswold wool is prized for its length, strength, and luster. 

The Cotswold Sheep come in three colors: white, brown, and black. Cotswolds are medium-sized sheep with horns that curl back and forth. 

They originated in the rolling hills of Gloucestershire in England due to crossbreeding long-wooled breeds with short-wooled Southdown sheep. Today they’re popular in France, Italy, Austria, and central Europe.

8. American Polypay

The American Polypay are wool producing sheep breeds developed in the United States in the 1970s. It crosses several breeds of Sheep, including the Rambouillet, Finnsheep, and Targhee. 

The American Polypay produces high-quality wool that is perfect for spinning and felting. It is also a very hardy breed of sheep, making it ideal for farmers looking for a low-maintenance animal.

9. Finnish Landrace

The Finnish Landrace is a domestic breed of sheep developed initially in Finland. The breed was created by crossing native Finnish Sheep with Scottish and Swedish landrace breeds. The resulting breed was well-suited to the Finnish climate and produced high-quality wool. 

The Finnish Landrace is still considered one of the best wool producing sheep breeds in the world. A Finnish Landrace is an excellent option if you’re looking for a high-quality wool producer for your farm.

10. Barbados Blackbelly

The Barbados Blackbelly is a beautiful wool producing sheep breeds with black fur and white spots. They are initially from the Caribbean island of Barbados, hence their name.

These sheep are very hardy and can withstand hot climates, making them an excellent choice for those living in warmer areas. 

The downside to these sheep is that they can be aggressive and even dangerous if not correctly handled. If you’re looking for a sheep that produces high-quality wool, the Barbados Blackbelly is an excellent option.

11. Blackhead Persian

The Blackhead Persian are wool producing sheep breeds from the Fertile Crescent. They are one of the oldest domesticated breeds known for their hardy nature and resistance to disease.

The fleece of this breed is typically light in color, ranging from white to cream, and is very soft and delicate. These sheep are good foragers and do well in hot, dry climates.

If you’re looking for the best wool producing sheep breeds that can thrive in harsh conditions, this may be the breed for you!

12. Border Leicester

The Border Leicester is a dual-purpose sheep for meat and wool, and the average ewe will produce about 10 pounds of wool annually.

The fleece is lustrous with a fine texture and good length, making it ideal for both hand spinning and machine processing. 

Border Leicesters are hardy, adaptable, and able to thrive in various climates and terrain. They are also good mothers, with plenty of milk to feed their lambs.

If you’re looking for a versatile sheep that can provide meat and wool, the Border Leicester is a great choice!

13. Icelandic Sheep

The Icelandic sheep is a unique and hardy breed from the island of Iceland. These wool producing sheep breeds are used to harsh weather conditions and can even survive on very little food.

The wool from Icelandic sheep is warm and waterproof, making it ideal for winter clothing. 

The Icelandic sheep is an excellent choice if you’re looking for a sheep that can thrive in a cold climate. However, this may not be the best fit if you want an animal that produces more meat than wool.

14. Katahdin Hair Sheep (Romney)

The Katahdin is a dual-purpose sheep bred for both meat and wool production. The breed was developed in the 1900s in Maine, the United States, crossing Hampshire and Southdown ewes with a Barbados Blackbelly ram.

The resulting offspring were then crossed to create the Katahdin breed. The name Katahdin comes from Mount Katahdin, the highest point in Maine.

They are hardy and very fertile sheep that produce more pounds of wool per year than any other type of sheep. They grow their hair long and curly, which is why they are also known as cotton tails or lambs’ tails. 

The long outer coat must be sheared yearly not to mat up or overgrow its face. However, the shorter undercoat grows continuously and can be harvested for yarn throughout the year if desired. 

This wool producing sheep breeds would be great for anyone who wants to make their yarn. This breed is also suitable for people who wish for high-quality raw material for hand knitting or crocheting projects.

15. Hertfordshire Down

The Hertfordshire Down is a domestic and British wool producing sheep breeds. It was developed in the early nineteenth century from the old Hampshire Down and shares many characteristics with that breed. 

The Hertfordshire Down is a medium-wool, dual-purpose breed. The ewes are good milkers and produce a lamb that proliferates and is suitable for meat production. The fleece is of good quality, and the lamb’s carcass is also of good quality.

16. Panama Sheep

The Panama sheep is a dual-purpose meat and wool breed developed in Australia in the early 1900s. The species gets its name from the Panamanian Canal Zone, where it was first exported.

The Panama sheep is a medium-sized wool producing sheep breeds with white, black, or brown fleece.

The fleece is dense and lustrous, and the wool is often used in high-quality garments. The Panama sheep are a hardy breed that does well in hot climates and is resistant to parasites.

Conclusion

When choosing wool producing sheep breeds for your farm, there are many factors to consider. The list of 16 wool producing sheep breeds above provides a great starting point for your research. 

Consider your area climate, the amount of land and pasture available, and your budget when making your final decision. With some planning, you can find the perfect breed of sheep to add to your farm!

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