Sheep are classified in the subfamily Caprinae, and all domestic sheep are included in the genus Ovis and species Ovis aries. The importance of sheep was maintained mainly for meat production, and subsidiary functions were the production of wool, hair, skins, milk, and manure. There are various types of sheep breeds in our livestock population, and it is observed that there are more than thousands of distinct sheep breeds in the world.
Most Popular Sheep Breeds in The World
Sheep are popular farm animals. The choice of sheep breeds or the appropriate sheep depends on the producer’s desire, management system, environmental condition, and personal preference. Merino, Corriedale, Blue Faced Leicester, Rambouillet sheep are the most profitable and best-known wool sheep breed, and they are also reared for meat production. Dorset and Taxel are delicious choices for meat production.
1. Exotic Sheep Breeds: Merino
- Merino is of Spanish origin, well-known as the best fine-wool breed in the world.
- The wool found on the Merino is of acceptable quality, the length, and size of the wool fiber varying in different classes.
- All Merino wool classes are dense, the fiber fine, the staple strong, and the crimp close.
- The head of the sheep is medium size and legally well covered with wool.
- The ram possesses horns, and whereas ewes are polled.
- The neck and shoulders are found folds or wrinkles in the skin.
- The sheep as a whole hardy can thrive well even under adverse agro-climatic conditions.
- The adult merino rams weigh about 90 kg, and ewes weigh about 70 kg.
2. Cheviot Sheep
- The breed originated in the place of Cheviot Hills between Scotland and England.
- The sheep are the medium wool breed
- Whiteface with a black nose, lips, and hoofs, and black spots are often on the ears.
- The head, legs, and ears of the sheep are generally covered with short, white hair.
- Both sexes are polled, stylish, alert, and active; head and legs are free from wool.
- The breed ranks very high as a mutton producer, the meat being of superior quality.
- They are hardy sheep, requiring little shelter, and well adapted to hilly and mountain areas.
- The breed is small and compact, with rams weighing 80 kg and ewes averaging 55 kg.
3. Sheep Breeds: Lincoln
- This breed in England, along the eastern coast of England and bordering the North sea in Lincolnshire.
- The color is white, but black may be present.
- Both sexes are polled and the largest of all breeds of sheep.
- Rams weigh 250 to 375 Ib and ewes 200 to 275 Ib.
- They produce the heaviest fleece of any mutton breed.
4. Popular Sheep Variety: Suffolk
- The breed originated in England in the Southeastern countries of Suffolk, Essex, and Norfolk.
- They have a blackhead, ears, and legs.
- Both sexes are polled, although rams frequently have scurs.
- Head and ears are entirely free from wool, but this is a medium wool breed.
5. Romney Marsh Sheep
- The sheep is native in Egland, in the Romney Marsh regions of the country of Kent.
- The color of sheep is white, and both sexes are polled and open face.
- Romney is shorter-legged, more rugged, and its fleece is shorter, more refined, and less open.
- They are well adapted for grazing on low, flatland than some other breeds.
- The weight of a mature ram is 90 to 115 kg, and that of the ewe is 80 to 90 kg.
6. Corriedale Sheep Breed
- This breed is originated from New Zealand and was developed by the cross of a Lincoln ram on Merino ewes to produce a class of sheep that would be suitable for range conditions, and at the same time, would produce reasonably good mutton and wool.
- The body of the sheep is large and symmetrical, having a general appearance of attractive and bold.
- Head being healthy, is well covered with wool down to the eyes.
- The face is free from any trace of black or brown hair.
- The adults Corriedale rams weigh about 115kg and ewes 85 kg.
7. Southdown Sheep Breeds
- The native home of the Southdown is in the Southeastern country of Sussex in England.
- The color is light, or brown mouse color preferred.
- Both sexes are polled, although rams sometimes have scars.
- The shortness of leg, superior conformation, and quality carcass
- The mutton of this breed is of excellent quality.
- A blocky, compact, well-rounded-out form is characteristic of the breed.
- The head is short and broad, covered with a cap of wool which should not extend below the eyes.
- The fleece produced by the breed is averaging 2 to 3 kg.
- The adult rams weighing 80 kg and ewe 60 kg.
8. Rambouillet Sheep
- The breed Rambouillet originally came from Spain and a descendent of old Spanish Merino.
- The breed was improved and developed at Rambouillet in France.
- The breed is the largest fine wool breed, very hardy and excellent grazers on poor pasture.
- The color varies from cream to white, most rams have horns, but there is some polled strain, but ewes are hornless.
- Heavy, dense wool extends over the face below any of the fine-wool breeds.
- The adult Rambouillet rams are large, weighing 1o5 to 125 kg, and ewes 70 to 90 kg.
9. Pakistani sheep breeds: Kohistani Dumba
- This fat-tailed, heavy sheep, black or brownish-white in color with small ears.
- It is a good mutton-sheep and produces some wool ( about 5 kg per year ).
10. Naluchi Dumba Sheep of Pakistan
- It is similar to the Kohistani dumba but with a better fleece, usually whitish.
- It is hardier and has floppy ears.
11. Kooka Sheep Breeds of Pakistan
- A thin-tailed good milch breed found in irrigated areas of Pakistan.
- Polled or with small horns, black in color, with a Roman nose, long neck, and flat ears.
12. Indian sheep breeds: Coimbatore
- This white coarse woolly breed of sheep is called locally Coimbatore Kurumbai or Coimbatore white.
- The wool yield obtained from the breed ranged from 0.34 to 0.56 kg and was used locally for making crumbles.
13. Nilgiri Sheeps of India
- The breed is distributed in the Nilgiri district and the only breed of sheep producing fine apparel wool in south India.
- The breed’s color is white, and it is a polled breed with prominent frontal bones and a Roman nose.
- The wool fiber is subtle and almost without modulation.
- The body weight of an adult ram is 39 kg, and that of the ewe is 29 kg.
- The mean wool yield of ram and ewe is 900 and 600 g, respectively.
14. Indian Sheep: Nellore
- This breed is found in the eastern part of India’s humid and warm areas in Andhra Pradesh.
- These sheep are commonly long-legged and thin bodies.
- The coat of the breed is hairy without fine wool fiber.
15. Bannur Sheep of India
- This breed of sheep is considered to suit for mixed farming in Karnataka state ideally.
- It is mutton type breed with a short, compact body, small bones covered by well-developed muscles.
- The sheep are graded with rams of exotic breed Southdown.
16. Indian Sheep Breeds: Deccani
- A small body characterizes the sheep with predominantly black and grey colored fleece.
- It is a hair/ wool type with a thin tail.
- Rams are horned and the ewes polled, and their ears are medium and drooping.
- The wool yield is about ½ kg, and the wool is coarse and a mixture of hair and fine fibers.
- This sheep is found in the southeastern parts of Maharastra and the adjacent Andhra Pradesh and Mysore states.
- Mostly this sheep is rared for mutton production.
- Mature males measure 65 to 69 cm at the withers and weigh 36 to 40 kg.
17. Mandya Indian Sheep
- This sheep is well-known for producing quality mutton.
- These sheep are found in Karnataka state.
- They possess long necks, drooping hindquarters, and long legs to cover long distances over hard surfaces.
18. Indian Sheep Breeds: Bellary
- The sheep are mostly seen in the districts of Bellary and Kurnool of Andhra Pradesh.
- They produce coarse and black wool.
- There is an extensive demand for the skins of these sheep.
19. Marwari Sheep of India
- This breed is one of many thin-tailed, wooled types.
- It resembles the blackhead Persian, possessing similar coat colors.
- The sheep are sturdy and long-legged with black faces seen in the Jodhpur and Jaipur divisions of Rajasthan.
- They produce annually 1 to 2 kg of coarse white wool.
- The ear of these sheep is small and tubular, and both sexes measure up to 60 cm at the withers and weigh around 30 kg.
20. Lohi Sheep
- The sheep is the largest sheep and one of India’s largest sheep in the Cayallpur, Jhang, and Montgomery districts of Pakistan and East Punjab.
- Besides producing coarse and long stapled fleece, this breed produces quality meat and also sufficient quality milk.
- These sheep possess the appreciable size of the body with prominently long ears.
21. Indian Sheep Breeds: Bikaneri
- It is a famous brown-headed breed of Rajasthan and produces superior carpet.
- These are three distinct types seen among this breed- Chokla, Magra, and Nali.
- This sheep possesses a compact body, and the annual yield of wool is absent 1.5 kg.
- The chokla sheep have dark-brown and black palettes on the face, and the flocks are seen in the districts of Churu, June, and Sikar.
22. Gurez Indian Sheep
- The sheep is found in Gurez Tehsil, situated in the high elevated zone of Kashmir state.
- They are famous for long stapled and lustrous wool, which is mostly white and less hairy.
- The average wool production per sheep is about 1.5 kg.
23. Indian Sheep Breeds: Gaddi
- Gaddi is an essential breed in the Jammu area of Kashmir state.
- These sheep are reared in the Chamba and Mandi districts of Himachal Pradesh and Kangra valleys of Punjab.
- These sheep produce quality white fleece for the manufacture of shawls and blankets.
24. Rampur-Bushehr Sheeps
- It is a popular breed of sheep that originated from the Maso district of Himachal Pradesh.
- These sheep possess soft under-coat, and the wool’s annual yield ranges from one to two kilogram.
- The fleece produced by the breed is colored and used for the manufacture of fine clothes.
25. Indian Sheep Breeds: Bhakarwal
- The sheep is originated in the lower hills of the Himalayas and later migrated to Kashmir, Kangra, and Kulu Valleys, the flocks in the higher altitude possessing fine undercoat.
- The average wool yield per sheep is 1.5 kg, and the wool is long and mixed with a coarser staple.
- The ears of the sheep are long, board, and drooping.
Concluding Remarks on Sheep Breeds
Sheep are a vital part of the agricultural economy and an ordinary protein supplier in the human diet. Sheep also provide wool that made the most delicate quality garments. There are thousands of sheep breeds in the world. The significant types of sheep breeds are meat type and wool type. People rear sheep based on climate, availability, and requirement. I have highlighted the 24 most common sheep breeds in one article.