Afrino ram and ewes
Images courtesy of
& Family Superior Genetics
American Blackbelly ram
Image courtesy of Chris
Buchanan, Decatur, Alabama
Image courtesy of
EAAP-Animal Genetic Bank
Image courtesy of Universidad de Córdoba
Arapawa Island sheep
Images courtesy of Bad
Image Source: La Herdade do Matinho
Awassi rams in Kazakhstan
Image source: French
Image courtesy of Moss Creek Farm
Badger Face Welsh Mountain
Images courtesy of Meads Flock
Balwen Welsh Mountain
Images courtesy of Balwen
Welsh Mountain Sheep Society
Barbados Blackbelly ewes
Barbados Blackbelly lambs
Barki lamb in Egypt
Image courtesy of
EAAP-Animal Genetic Bank
Image Source: www.vegh.at
Sheep Breeds A - Ba
During the late 1960's, a request was made to the Department of
Agriculture by the wool industry, via the South African Agricultural
Union, to develop a white-wooled breed for extensive sheep grazing
areas. In 1976, it was evident that the crossing of 25 percent
Merino, 25 percent Ronderib Afrikaner, and 50 percent South African
Mutton Merino best fullfilled the requirements set for the new
It was decided to retain only this cross for further upgrading
and development of the breed known today as the Afrino. Eighty
percent of the income from Afrino sheep is generated through meat
production and 20 percent through wool production. The Afrino
produces Merino-type wool, with a fiber diameter ranging from
19 to 22 microns.
Breed category: fine wool, dual-purpose
Distribution: South Africa, Australia
Go to Afrino Sheep Breeders'
The Altay originated in the regions of China typified by dry,
cold mountain basins. They belong to the Kazakh group of sheep
which are found in the desert and mountainous areas in west Xinjiang.
Altay belong to the fat-rumped, carpet wool type. They gradually
formed the fat tail (or rump) as a biological characteristic.
The tail (or rump) weighs about 15 pounds (7 kg).
Due to the sharp
seasonal contrast in forage availability in these pastorial areas,
the sheep tend to deposit a large amount of fat in the body in
order to meet nutritional demands during the winter and spring.
In addition, the herdsmen working under these climatic conditions
need fat as the main source of energy supply and so have selected
sheep with high fat deposits.
Breed category: fat-rump, carpet wool, meat
- American Blackbelly
The American Blackbelly is a composite breed resulting from the
crossing of Barbados Blackbelly on the Mouflon and Rambouillet
breeds. As the name implies, the underbelly of the American Blackbelly
is black, as is the inside of the legs, the back part of the thighs,
and the hair inside the ears. Two black facial barbs extend down
the muzzle medial to the eye, giving the breed an exotic appearance.
Through selective breeding, the American Blackbelly has retained
the coloration of its Barbados Blackbelly parent stock, but can
be easily distinguished by the presence of horns on the rams.
It is harder to identify which breed a ewe represents because
American Blackbelly females may be polled, scurred, or horned,
with the majority being polled. Because this sheep is popular
with the trophy hunting markets, "trophy racks" are
heavily selected for in American Blackbelly breeding stock.
American Blackbelly is a hair sheep, although in some areas of
the U.S., American Blackbelly may develop a winter undercoat of
fine wool fiber that is shed in the spring. The American Blackbelly
is known for its vitality, thrift, easy lambing, and lean carcass.
[text provided by Carol Elkins]
Breed category: hair
Distribution: North America
Go to Barbados Blackbelly
Sheep Association International=>
Go to United Horned Hair Sheep Association =>
The Apennine breed was founded in the 1970's in central Italy,
mainly in the Toscana, Emilia, Umbria, Arche, and Abruzzi regions
of Italy; crossbreeding the local breed with other Italian or
exotic breeds such as Bergamasca and Ile-de-France. It is a medium
wool breed kept primarily for meat production. It is polled and
has semi-lopped ears.
The breed is reared in small or medium size
flocks that usually are not the only economic source of the farm.
There are an estimated 250,000 head, spread out over central and
Breed category: meat, medium wool
The Rasa Aragonesa sheep is the second most important Spanish
breed after the Merino breed. Spanish sheep breeds of medium quality
wool are considered to have originated from the crossbreeding
of fine-wool strains (Merino) and those with coarse wool (Churra
and Lacha), though this viewpoint is overly simplistic.
Aragonesa breed, which owes its name to the region where it is
of most importance, as well as to the length of its wool ("rasa"
= threadbare), is raised mainly for its meat. Among the outstanding
qualities of the Rasa Aragonesa are its high degree of ruggedness,
gregarious instinct, pasturing ability, and adaptability to the
harsh environment in which it is raised.
Breed category: dual-purpose, medium wool
Distribution: Spain, Europe
to Raza Rasa Aragonesa=>
- Arapawa (Arapawa Island)
The most probable origin for the Arapawa feral sheep is that they
are escapees of a flock of mainly Merino origin, known to have
been introduced in 1867, the original stock having undoubtedly
come from Australia. It is possible that they were introduced
earlier by whalers who were the first European occupants of the
Island. They are considered a rare and endangered breed. Arapawas
are rather prehistoric-looking wild sheep.
They are not large
sheep, being rather lean and light-boned. Their bulky fleece is
of Merino-like fineness with a natural tendency to be shed, as
occurs in most wild sheep.There are still some Arapawa sheep on
the island and several thousand are now found in flocks throughout
Breed category: rare, feral
Distribution: New Zealand
Go to Rare Breeds Conservation Society of New Zealand=>
The Assaf sheep is the result of crossbreeding the Awassi and
East Friesian Milk sheep. In 1955, researchers of the Israeli
Agricultural Research Organization (A.R.O) started this project
aiming to improve the fecundity of the Awassi sheep. A combination
of 3/8 East Friesian and 5/8 Awassi blood emerged as the best
Most dairy sheep breeders in Israel have adopted the Assaf,
which is considered not only a top quality dairy sheep and excellent
mutton producer, but is also well-adapted to semi-extensive to
extensive production systems. Under Israeli conditions, in which
ewes have approximately 3 lambings in 2 years, the annual milk
yield is 450 liters. The demand for Assaf sheep is increasing
every year. They have been exported to Spain, Portugal, Chile
Breed categories: dual-purpose (dairy and meat)
- Australian Merino
More than 80 percent of all Australian sheep are pure Merino,
with most of the remainder at least part Merino blood. Merino
is grown primarily for its heavy fleeces of fine wool. Although
the Australian Merino derives its name and basic appearance from
the Spanish breed, it is a distinct breed in its own right, developed
and adapted in Australia to the specific conditions of this country.
Merino sheep were brought to Australia from the Cape Colony, England,
Saxony (South East Germany), France, and America.
Merino is not a single homogenous breed but a number of strains
of sheep all of which, regardless of their origins, are uniquely
Australian. The major factor determining the Merinos development
has been the requirement for environmental suitability.
The four basic strains of Australian Merino are Peppin, Saxon,
South Australian, and Spanish. The Peppin Merino is suited to
the harsher conditions of inland Australia. Its heavy fleece
falls in the mid-range of Merino wool qualities. As many as
70 percent of today's Australian Merinos are said to be directly
descended from the Peppin-developed sheep. The South Australian
Merino is suited to semi-arid conditions of 250 mm (10 in.)
of rain or less and is found in South Australia, Western Australia,
Queensland and New South Wales.
The wool from these sheep is
at the strongest (i.e. thickest in fiber diameter) end of the
range of Merino wool types. The Saxon Merino is without peer
in the quality of wool produced. It is best suited to cool to
warm conditions with 500 mm (20 in.) or more of rainfall and
is found in the highlands of Tasmania, the cooler areas of Victoria,
and the tablelands of New South Wales. Though relatively few
in number, there is a distinct strain of the Australian Merino
that is directly descended from Merino sheep of "Spanish"
blood imported into the colony.
Other Types of Merinos in Australia
The development of the Australian Poll Merino is relatively
new. Polled rams have been selected and mated to Merino ewes
and selection continued for the quality of pollness. The result
is a pure Merino without horns.The Fonthill Merino was developed
in the 1950's by crossing American-bred Rambouillet-Merino rams
with a fine-wool Saxon strain of Merino. The second most populous
breed of sheep in Australia is the ewe progeny from Border Leicester
rams mated to Merino ewes: the "Border/Merino."
Breed categories: fine wool
Go to Australian Association of Stud Merino Breeders=>
Go to New Zealand Stud
The Awassi evolved as a nomadic sheep breed through centuries
of natural and selective breeding to become the highest milk producing
breed in the Middle East. The breed is of the Near Eastern fat-tailed
type. The average Awassi ewe has single lactations over 300 liters
(650 pounds) per 210-day lactation, and it is not uncommon for
outstanding females to have 210 day lactations above 750 liters
As a comparison, the lactation of the average U.S.
sheep breed is about 100 to 200 pounds per lactation. The breed
also has the advantage of natural hardiness and grazing ability.
The males are horned and the females are usually polled. The fleece
is mostly carpet type with a varying degree of hair.
Breed categories: dairy, fat-tailed, carpet wool
The Avranchin is a grassland breed, hardy and well adapted to
the ocean climate, usually living outdoors in small flocks. It
is one of the most prolific French breeds. With a large or medium-sized
frame, it produces lambs of good butchering quality, with very
fine textured meat.
The selection of the Avranchin sheep breed
tends towards the maintenance of high prolificacy (the optimum
sought is the ewe which regularly produces twins at each lambing),
and the improvement of the milk value of the dams. Rams for breeding
are chosen according to their conformation and the prolificacy
and milk value indexes of their dam.
Breed categories: meat
- (Olde English) Babydoll Southdown
The Olde English Babydoll Southdown is a miniature variety of
the Southdown breed. The Southdown breed of sheep originated in
the Southdown hills of Sussex County, England. It is one of the
oldest purebred sheep breeds in the world. Southdowns were imported
to the United States in the early 1800's. The 1960's saw increased
importation of the larger New Zealand Southdown to upscale the
Around 1990, small flocks of the original
smaller Southdowns were rediscovered and labeled Olde English
Babydoll Miniature Sheep to differentiate them from the larger
modern breed. This miniature sheep is only 19 to 23 inches tall.
Babydolls usually have off white wool with cinnamon or gray faces
and legs. Currently people raise these docile sheep for their
wool, as pets, and grass trimmers perfect for today's smaller
Breed categories: medium wool, novelty
Distribution: United Kingdom, North America
Olde English Babydoll Southdown Sheep Registry =>
Go to North American Babydoll Southdown Sheep Association and
- Badger Face Welsh Mountain
The Welsh Mountain Badger Face is a color variation (a recessive
trait) of the Welsh Mountain. It is an ancient Welsh breed, which
was once common in the Welsh Mountains. Numbers of the breed fell
during the Middle Ages when the cloth trade demanded a white wool.
Numbers are now on the increase. The main type is known by Torddu
which means blackbelly, but there is also a rarer Torwen which
is the reverse coloration, black with a white belly.
variation have a distinctive broad striped face with a black band
from jaw to belly and extending to the underside of the tail.
The main fleece varies from pure white to light tan. Rams have
dark spiral horns and the ewes are polled. The Badger is a good
breed for crossing, especially on ewe lambs.
Breed categories: long wool, dual-purpose
Distribution: United Kingdom
Go to Badger Face
Welsh Mountain Sheep Society=>
- Balwen Welsh Mountain
The Welsh Mountain Sheep can be termed as an umbrella description
to describe many of the breeds indigenous to Wales. Through breeding
and selection over the centuries, the Welsh Mountain has developed
into many distinct breeds; the Balwen Welsh Mountain Sheep being
one of these. Balwen Welsh Mountain Sheep originate from one small
area of Wales: the Tywi Valley. The name Balwen is welsh for white
The Balwen sheep has a base color of black, brown, or dark
grey. It has a white blaze on the face, four distinct white feet,
and a half to two-thirds white tail. All males must have horns.
Horns are not allowed on females. The Balwen Welsh Mountain Sheep
is a small, very hardy breed. They are easy to manage, having
very few health problems associated with many of the larger breeds.
It is thought farmers over the years used the Balwen as landmarks
on the hills as a means of recognizing one's flock.
Breed categories: rare
Distribution: United Kingdom
Go to Balwen Welsh
Mountain Sheep Society=>
- Barbados Blackbelly
The Barbados Blackbelly is an indigenous breed to the Caribbean
island of Barbados. It descends from sheep brought to the islands
from West Africa during the slave era. Blackbellies are "antelope
like" in appearance, brown tan or yellow in color, with black
points and under-parts. Both ewes and rams are polled or have
only small scurs or diminutive horns.
They may have some visible
fuzzy wool undercoat within their hair coat, but it should shed
along with the hair each year. Barbados Blackbelies are noted
for their extreme hardiness and reproductive efficiency. They
are one of the most prolific sheep breeds in the world.
Breed category: hair (meat)
Breed distribution: Caribbean, Mexico, South America
History and Preservation of Barbados Blackbelly Sheep=>
The Barki, which goes by several other names, is well-adapted
to live under desert conditions. The breed is known for a long
breeding season (300 days) and good mothering abilities; however,
milk production of ewes is low. The breed is considered the main
contributor to the livestock population in the Mediterranean area.
They are multi-colored, usually white with brown or black head
and legs. They produce coarse wool and have a small fat tail.
They are the smallest Egyptian breed.
Breed category: long wool, fat-tailed
Distribution: Middle East
- Bavarian Forest (Waldschaf)
The Bavarian Forest, the successor of the Bavarian Zaupel, is
decreasing in popularity and appears in the Bavarian herdbook
only since 1987. Nevertheless it is an old and once wide-spread
breed in its native region. It is a small to medium sheep, mostly
white, though brown and black animals do occur.
The fleece contains
a mixture of fibers: kemp, hetero type, and wool fibers. Forest
sheep are aseasonal. They usually lamb 3 times in 2 years.Their
fertility amounts to about 180 percent. They are a hardy, weather
and disease-resistant breed. They have good mothering ability.
Breed category: rare, landrace, double-coated
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