Table of Contents
The wool industry is not profitable as it once was, and farmers are finding there to be a shortage of sheep shearers. As such sheep shearing, each year can be quite an expense for the sheep farmer, especially the smaller farms. Thus farmers are leaning more towards the easier care sheep such as those with hair instead of wool. Hair sheep tend to have a nice coat of fine hair that usually gets thicker in the winter and will shed itself in spring. Hair sheep are classified as any sheep that is either a pure hair sheep or a sheep that self-sheds its hair in the spring. In other words, it is a sheep that does not require sheering once a year.
Historically all sheep were hair sheep like the Mouflon which is a sub-species of wild sheep. It is a horned sheep with a short-haired coat of reddish-brown and a soft wooly undercoat. The Mouflon is thought to be one of the ancestors of all modern breeds of sheep. Wool sheep were the product of selecting hair sheep for their soft woolen undercoats and breeding them.
TOP 10 HAIR SHEEP BREEDS
The Africana sheep breed is a breed that originated in Columbia and is known by a few different names. They are a small to medium-sized breed that is primarily bred for their meat production and are classified as a hair sheep breed.
American Black Belly Sheep
The American Black Belly sheep is a result of the crossing of the Barbados Black Belly and that of the Rambouillet and Mouflon breed. They are a hair sheep breed that may resemble the Barbados Black Belly breed but differ in that they have various exotically shaped horns and a badger face and what is referred to as a sports coat that ranges in color. Their coats can be found in tan, brown and red with distinctive black markings on it. They are a small to medium sized sheep with excellent flocking instincts that is an asset to training herding dogs and cutting horses.
Barbados Black Belly Sheep
The Barbados Blackbelly sheep look like antelopes with their long clean legs and alert appearance. They are generally found in shades of brown and red with black underpants and a badger face. There are very few Barbados Blackbelly sheep left in the United States of America these days and the many efforts to restore the breed has not been very lucrative. They are a breed that originated from the Caribbean islands and are known for the strong resistance to parasites and hardiness. Continue Reading…
Blackhead Persian Sheep
The Blackhead Persian sheep breeds hair coat is white covering the body and its head is entirely black. They are a hair sheep breed that originated in Somalia and are bred for meat. They tolerate the heat a lot better than any wool breed does and they also produce a good amount of milk. They ewes will produce around 50 kgs of milk over an 84 day lactation period. The milk has a 5.9% butterfat content making it quite ideal for cheese.
The Damara is a hardy sheep breed from Africa. It is named after the region where it was originally found and is a very hardy breed. They are quite resistant to most sheep diseases and parasites, in fact, most farmers who farm them say they most every have to deworm their sheep once a year. They love to feed of most grasses, shrubs, and bush they can also go without water for long periods of time. They are mainly raised for the meat production and are great flock animals which makes them really easy to herd.
The Dorper sheep is a heavy muscled sheep breed that originated in South Africa. It is a result of the breeding between Dorset Horn rams with Blackhead Persian ewes. Dorper sheep breed has two distinct types the White Dorper and the traditional Dorper. The White Dorper is as its name implies a pure white-haired sheep and the traditional Dorper has a white body and black head much lie the Blackhead Persian breed. They are one of the most popular breeds of sheep in the United States today due to their shedding characteristics and superior conformation. Their carcasses tend to be of superior quality to most other sheep breeds with the most tender and flavorful meat. Continue Reading…
The Katahdin sheep breed was developed in the United States of America in the early 1950s. The breed was created by Michael Piel who named the breed after Mt. Katahdin in Maine where he farmed. This breed is one of the most popular sheep breeds in the United States and is sought after for its superior meat quality and because it does not need sheering thus making it a low maintenance sheep breed.
The Pelibuey sheep is a breed that is mostly found in Mexico, South America and the Caribbean. It is thought to have its roots in Africa and is bred for its meat production. It has a good adaption for extremely hot climates being a hair breed they are not lumbered with a wooly coat.
The Romanov Sheep breed originated in Russia and is classified as a hair sheep breed by the American Sheep Industry Association. This breed does require sheering annually as it has a dual coat that is mixed with wool and hair. This makes its fleece unacceptable for the wool market, but they are primarily bred for their flavorsome meat. They are also one of the most prolific sheep breeds in the world. They have one of the highest reproduction levels of all the sheep breeds and is a breed that is used for cross breeding. Continue Reading…
Royal White Sheep
The Royal White Sheep breed is quite a new breed of sheep having only been developed in the early 1990s. The breed was created in Hermleigh, Texas on the Dorpcroix Sheep farm by William Hoag. It is a hybrid that was purposely bred to produce a sheep breed that’s meat had less fat, more meat, and less wool. Their meat is a lot cleaner than most other sheep breeds, their carcasses have more meat with a mildly sweet flavor that is really tender. This breed is said to have a higher meat percentage than both the Dorper and Katahdin sheep breeds (these are both hair sheep breeds as well). The Royal White sheep have a fine hair coat with a downy undercoat that get full during the cold season and then sheds during the warmer seasons. It is the first new breed of low maintenance sheep and high-performance breed to breed in the United States in over twenty-five years.