Guide to Sheep Breeds
(Page 11 of 12)
“Wool from the tip of the nose to the tip of the toes” was used to describe Shropshires in their heyday. In the early 1900s, the Shropshire was the most common breed in the United States. However, breeders selected for small size and greater wool, resulting in a small sheep prone to wool blindness (heavy wool growth on the face covers eyes; requires regular face shearing). Since the 1950s, breeders have worked to ensure the breed has the original characteristics that made it so popular. Shropshire lambs are vigorous, grow quickly and have a superior carcass quality. The gentle disposition makes them suitable for a family flock. The ewes are prolific, give good yields of milk and are long-lived.
American Shropshire Registry Association
41 Bell Road
Leyden, MA 01337
Size: small to medium
Appearance: light brown face and legs; white wool; heavyset body
Fleece: low yield of moderately fine, short-stapled fleece
Lambing rate: single or twins
Environment: poor heat tolerance but otherwise adaptable
ALBC rating: recovering
Southdowns are noted for the excellent feed conversion. They are ideal for intensive management, including producing lambs for the Easter market. The lambs mature quickly and have good survival rates. The meat is noted for its flavor and tenderness.
The Babydoll Southdown is a miniature breed, less than two-feet high at the shoulder, recently developed from the Southdown.
American Southdown Breeders' Association
100 Cornerstone Road
Fredonia, TX 76842
Size: medium to large
Appearance: wide, white clean face with black nose; white clean legs with black hooves; heavyset body; white wool
Fleece: medium-grade in terms of both fineness and length
Breeding: five-month season
Lambing rate: 130 percent, 175 percent and 195 percent for lambs aged 1, 2 and 2+ years (respectively)
Behavior: poor herding
Origin: The Netherlands
Environment: pasture, not range
ALBC rating: not rated
Although the Texel breed was developed in the 1800s, it was only imported to the United States 30 years ago. Now there are flocks of Texels across the country. Rams are often used as a terminal sire to provide muscling. Lambs sired by a Texel ram have less carcass fat, greater feed efficiency and better carcass quality than lambs sired by black-faced rams.
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