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The Merino Sheep is a medium sized sheep breed and a very significant one in the sheep industry. Having been around and prized for its extremely fine wool for centuries the Merino sheep is a founding breed for many of the modern breeds found all around the world today.
The Merino sheep is also the most popular sheep breed to be found the world over as it is highly adaptable making it easy to breed in most any climate and or environment.
MERINO SHEEP QUICK PROFILE OVERVIEW
|The Merino sheep have thick skins with a lot of deep wrinkles in their heavy dense coats.|
|Country of Origin:||Spain|
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|Can be used for||Breed, **LSC, Wool,|
|Temperament:||Docile and easy to manage|
|Ideal Climate:||Heat, Cold, Most climates|
NOt listed by the *ALC
|Health Issues?||No known health issues|
|Good Starter Sheep?||Intermediate to experienced sheep farmer/keeper depending on the breed category|
|Sheep Associations:||American & Delaine Merino Record Association and the Merino World Federation|
|Sheep Clubs:||Refer to the American & Delaine Merino Record Association members info.|
| Note: *ALC stands for American Livestock Conservancy
** LSC stands for Landscape Management – the animal is used for controlling various vegetation growth
|The Merino sheep have a heavy fleece with some wrinkling in their skin. They usually have smooth clear faces with very bright and alert eyes.|
EWE BREEDING & MILKING INFORMATION
|The ewes can be bred throughout the year with around 8 to 9 months intervals.|
|Breeding Period/cycle:||Usually lasts 24 to 36 hours|
|Estrous cycle:||Ave. 17 days/13 to 19 days|
|Gestation Period:||Usually, around 150 to 155 days but most gestation is 152 days|
|No. Lambs/Litter:||1 to 2 (twins)|
|Lactation Period:||Usually, around 150 to 240 day but most are milked for 180 days|
|Milking From:||4 to 6 weeks after lambing|
|Milk Ideal for:||Lambs|
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SHEEP MEAT PRODUCTION INFORMATION
|The Merino Sheep is not bred for its meat but rather it prized wool|
|You may Also Like:||11 Best Sheep Breeds for Meat Production|
SHEEP WOOL PRODUCTION INFORMATION
|The Merino is known for its exceptionally fine wool. Their wool does not stop growing and if left can lead to heat stress for the animal, so they must get sheered at least once a year.|
|Wool Production?||Yes, Quality: USDA Wool grade is 64s to 80s|
|Wool is used to Produce:||Knitted garments, clothes, blankets, etc.|
|You may Also Like:||18 Best Wool Producing Sheep Breeds|
SHEEP SKIN PRODUCTION INFORMATION
|They are not primarily bred for their sheep skin production. Although their skin is or has at some time been used for the production of some form of sheep skin product such as chamois, etc.|
|Skin is used to Produce:||Kid skin leather products such as shoes, car seats, fine leather coats, gloves, etc.
Chamois cloths, leather goods such as seats, shoes and other garments and leather materials such as furniture, etc.
GOOD TO KNOW ABOUT THE MERINO SHEEP
|A few more interesting facts to know about the breed|
|Child-Friendly?||They are a docile breed, but they are still livestock which no child should be left unattended with.|
|Landscape Management?||They are excellent foragers and good herd sheep.|
|Where to buy them?||Refer to the American & Delaine Merino Record Association for information on registered breeders and suppliers of this breed.|
The Merino sheep have excellent herd instincts.
They are extremely adaptable to most any climates and are excellent foragers making them able to survive in various different environments.
This makes them a very versatile and thus valuable breed as it enables them to be bred and maintained near all over the world.
There is not other wool that can compare to that of the Merino sheep. The Merino sheep is probably one of the most popular and important sheep breeds in the world. The first Merino sheep were domesticated in New Zealand and Australia.
Sheep are believed to have been introduced from by Phoenicians that came from Asia Minor into Africa. These flocks were probably the foundation flocks of the Merino. Introduced by the Marinids who were a tribe of Berbers in Spain around the 12th century.
It was Spanish breeders that introduced English sheep breeds that were then bred with local sheep breeds to produce the Merino sheep in the 13th and 14th centuries.
Most of these flocks were documented to have been owned by either the church or nobility. With the flocks grazing in the northern highlands in the summer and the southern plains of Spain in the winter.
There are three types of Merino sheep:
Type A – are often more angular and have little carcass value with the sheep being a small sheep, they need more attention and care. Thus, this breed needs to be bred by a skillful sheep breeder and is not suited for commercial lamb and wool production.
Type B – They are bigger sheep and a bit more robust adapting to various ordinary farming type conditions and produce a lot of fleece around 25 pounds a year.
Type C- Unlike other Merino sheep breeds the Delaine Merino is smooth and wrinkle free. It also has a lot more skin folds giving a greater wool growth.
The Merino is found in a lot of the North American States where is it one of the most popular sheep breeds and makes up around 95% of the Merino sheep breeds in the States.
A large percentage of sheep breeds around the world carry Merino bloodline in some form. They are said to be the best sheep breed in the world. They also have a longer productive life span than other sheep breeds and can produce wool up to 10 years of age. There have been sheep that have lived even longer than that of the MERINO Breed of sheep.
- United States Lamb Resource Center
- American Sheep Industry Association
- American Sheep Industry Association List of Breed Associations & Standards
- American Milk Sheep Association
- Dairy Sheep Association of North America
- American Wool Council
- Fur Commission USA
- North American Meat Institute
- American Lamb Board
- National Lamb Feeders Association
- American Livestock Conservancy
- Animal Shelter (ASPCA)
- American Veterinary Medical Association
- American Animal Welfare Society
- American Animal Control
- American Animal Husbandry Society
- United States Department of Agriculture