Sheep Production Handbook: “Sheep whose coats consist of hair, more like that of cattle and goats, rather than wool.”Some other definitions A sheep that does not require annual shearing. A sheep that sheds its coat annually. A sheep whose coat has more hair than wool.
PROS CONS Ease of management Smaller carcasses No shearing No crutching Slower growth No docking Less carcass muscling More internal fat Environmental adaptation Resistance to internal parasites More heat tolerant Low maintenance (forage) Reproductive efficiency Early puberty Good mothering ability Out-of-season breeding Prolificacy
Lower fat meat No scientific evidence to support claim Leaner carcasses More internal fat at same finish (back fat) as wooled breeds. Milder flavor meat Only anecdotal evidence Affected more by diet (grain vs. grass) Less hoof problems Foot rot bacteria does not differentiate between breed. Easier lambers Affected more by nutrition and management. Resistant to scrapie Resistance affected by genotype not breed.
LANDRACE COMPOSITES DUAL-COATED St. Croix Katahdin Romanov Barbados Blackbelly Dorper American Blackbelly Royal White® OTHER Wiltshire Horn California Red “Exotics”
Origin Originated in Virgin Islands in the Caribbean. Exact origins unknown. Imported to USA in 1975. Unique to North America. Classified as a rare breed.Appearance Both sexes polled Usually white Small to medium size Rams - up to 200 lbs. (avg. 163 #) Ewes - up to 150 lbs. (avg. 119#) St. Croix ewes in British Virgin Islands
PROS CONS Exceptional parasite Small carcass size < most wooled breeds resistance (#1) < composite hair x wool Exceptional reproductive Slower growth < most wooled breeds qualities < composite hair x wool Early puberty Less carcass muscling Good mothering ability < most wooled breeds Out-of-season breeding < composite hair x wool Prolificacy More internal carcass fat > most wooled breeds Outstanding maternal breed! > composite hair x wool
Barbados Blackbelly lambs in BarbadosOrigin Originated in Barbados in the Caribbean. Exact origins unknown Imported to USA in 1904. Few “true” Barbados Blackbellies in USA.Appearance Both sexes polled. Distinct markings that include various shades of brown, with black under parts and points and a badger face. Small breed: rams average 100-130#; ewes average 85-100#
The “American Blackbelly is a cross between the Barbados Blackbelly and various European breeds (Mouflon and Rambouillet), resulting in a horned animal. Historically, the American Blackbelly was used for trophy hunting and training herding dogs. Image source: Oklahoma State University
PROS CONS Internal parasite resistance Small carcass size < most wooled breeds < composite hair x wool Reproductive efficiency Slower growth Early puberty < most wooled breeds < composite hair x wool Out-of-season breeding Prolificacy Less carcass muscling < most wooled breeds < composite hair x wool More internal carcass fatOutstanding maternal breed > most wooled breeds > composite hair x wool Disposition (American Blackbelly)
Origin Developed in 1950’s in USA (Maine) by crossing Caribbean hair sheep (St. Croix) with various British breeds (e.g. Suffolk); Wiltshire Horn later introduced. One of most popular breeds in US.Appearance Both sexes usually polled Multi colors and patterns Variable coat types Medium size breed Rams - 180 to 250 # Ewes - 120 to 160 #
PROS CONS Internal parasite resistance Smaller carcass size Intermediate between hair < most wooled breeds breeds and wooled breeds > hair breeds Reproductive efficiency Slower growth Early puberty < many wooled breeds > hair breeds Out-of-season breeding Prolificacy Less carcass muscling Milking ability < meat-type wooled breeds > hair breeds “Best” all-around hair sheep More Internal carcass fat Intermediate between hair > most wooled breeds and wool sheep in most traits < hair breeds Excellent maternal breed.
Origin Developed in South Africa in 1930’s by crossing Dorset Horn with Persian Blackhead (desert, fat-rump sheep) Imported to USA in 1995. One of the most popular breeds in USA.Appearance Both sexes usually polled Short coat of wool and hair Two types 1. Dorper - white body with black head 2. White Dorper - all white Medium size Rams average 225# Ewes average 180-210#
PROS CONS Superior growth and carcass Lighter finish weight than muscling as compared to conventional wooled other hair sheep. breeds. Less internal fat than other Less adapted to warm, hair sheep. moist weather than other Good reproduction hair sheep breeds. Early puberty No documented resistance Out-of-season breeding Prolificacy to internal parasites. Only dual-purpose hair sheep More variable in their (sire or dam) shedding ability
“EXOTIC” HAIR SHEEPROYAL WHITE® HORNED HAIR SHEEP Newest hair breed Mouflon Developed in 1990’s by Barbado William Hoag. Black Hawaiian Cross between St. Croix and Corsican White Dorper. Desert Sand Previously called Dorpcroix. Painted Desert www.royalwhitesheep.biz Texas Dall www.unitedhornedhairsheepassociation.org
ROMANOV Russian in origin. Dual coated with dark guard hairs. Outstanding reproductive qualities. Used a lot for crossing. WILTSHIRE HORN Ancient British breed. Sheds its short fleece. Used to create Katahdin. Both sexes horned. Classified as a rare breed.
Why? With wool sheep to eliminate the need for shearing subsequent generations. Produce superior crossbred market lambs (terminal cross). Produce crossbred ewes of a specific type. Lambs are ¾ Katahdin x ¼ Lacaune
1. Hybrid vigor The performance of crossbred offspring is superior to the average performance of the two parent breeds. ▪ Crossbred lamb (offspring) ▪ Crossbred ewe (maternal) ▪ Crossbred ram (?) 2. Breed complementarity Balancing the strengths and weakness of different½ Katahdin x ¼ Hampshire x ¼ Suffolk breeds.
It takes anywhere from 1 to 3 generations of crossing to eliminate the need of shearing the crossbred offspring. Do not take the fleeces from hair x wool sheep to a wool pool. The fleeces could be used for insulation or something similar. 5/8 Lacaune x 3/8 Katahdin
According to research recently conducted in the United Kingdom. A single gene switches on the ability to shed. Within shedders, there are genetic differences in the speed and extent of shedding. Not all lambs shed, even though they may shed as adults.
There is no best Land production system or way to Climate Buildings raise sheep. PRODUCTION Fit production SYSTEM system to Markets Machinery resources instead of the other way Labor around.
Early winter (Dec-Jan) Late winter (Feb-Mar) Spring (Apr-May) Fall (Sept-Nov) Accelerated (multiple lambing periods)
Indoor lambing Creep feeding Early weaning < 90 days Sell hot house lambs (for Orth. Easter) or finish lambs in dry lot for sale during first half of year.
PROS CONS Produces best quality lamb Need good facilities for Highest prices for lambs lambing and feeding lambs Labor availability Higher labor and Less predator risk management Parasites not usually a requirements. problem. Higher non-pasture Less pasture needed feed costs. Least profitable “on paper”
Indoor lambing Graze ewes and lambs on lush spring pastures. Creep feeding and early weaning common. Can wean lambs and finish in dry lot or finish lambs on pasture.
PROS CONS Utilize lush spring forage Need good facilities for growth lambing. Market lambs before peak Higher labor and parasite challenge. management requirements Market lambs before onset than spring and fall lambing. of hot weather. Higher non-pasture feed Market lambs before usual costs than spring or fall summer price slump. lambing. Higher lambing percentage Some predator risk. than winter and fall Some parasite challenge. lambing. Price volatility.
Indoor or pasture lambing. Graze ewes and lambs together through spring, winter, and fall. Later weaning Need to castrate rams Sell feeder lambs or light weight slaughter lambs or feed lambs and sell after first of year.
PROS CONS Minimal facilities required; Competition for labor can lamb on pasture. Weather risk during Less labor required at lambing lambing. Highest predator risk Maximize forage use. Highest parasite challenge Match seasonal nature of Depressed weight gains in sheep reproduction to summer achieve higher fertility and More pasture required to prolificacy. graze lambs More profitable “on paper”
Indoor or pasture lambing. Graze ewes and lambs on high quality fall forage. Can utilize stockpiled forage for winter grazing. Sell lambs at Christmas or feed them and sell after first of year.
PROS CONS Market lambs in winter and Success is limited by spring when lamb prices seasonal nature of sheep are usually the highest. reproduction. Minimal facilities required; May require second can lamb on pasture. lambing period. Less labor required at Usually lower lambing lambing. percentage with fall Less predator risk. lambing. Less parasite challenge.
Twice a year Every six months Cornell STAR® system 5 times in 3 years Three times in two years e.g. Jan - May - Sept Continuous Leave ram(s) in
PROS CONS Market flexibility More labor-intensive Year-round marketing More management Out-of-season lambs intensive to sell Higher feed costs Reduced overhead costs Higher input costs Improved ewe efficiency Longevity of ewes Limited by success of out- of-season breeding.
All sheep production systems require good management and an infusion of inputs.
Most hair sheep fatten similarly to a goat, from the inside out. They will deposit fat around their internal organs (kidney and heart) before depositing subcutaneous fat over their ribs, backbone, and loin. As compared to carcasses from most wooled sheep, hair sheep carcasses will have a higher percentage of carcass fat at an equivalent amount of back fat. internal fat in a goat carcass
MOSTLY PASTURE MOSTLY CONCENTRATE Slower growth Faster growth Longer feeding period Shorter feeding period Leaner, lighter carcass Better live grade Stronger flavor Heavier, fatter carcass More healthful meat (?) Milder flavor More economical (?) Less healthful meat (?) More economical (?)
Full-feeding is likely to result in lambs that get too fat. Feeding lambs on higher roughage diets will allow lambs to achieve heavier finish weights, without depositing as much internal and subcutaneous fat.
Breed or breed cross affects market suitability. Hair sheep are not suitable for all markets. If your lambs aren’t suitable for a particular market, they will sell at a discounted price and/or your customer will be dissatisfied.
Pure hair sheep are not suitable for the commodity or mainstream market. Poor carcass quality Katahdin and Dorper lambs should be able to meet the lower end of the weight range for commodity lambs without getting too fat (90-110 lbs.) Crosses between the composite breeds and meat- type, wooled breeds (e.g. Suffolk) should be suitable for the commodity markets in the Eastern USA. ½ Katahdin x ¼ Hampshire x ¼ Suffolk
The “ethnic” market is composed of many different markets, each having differing preferences and requirements. Hair sheep and their composites and crosses are suitable for some of these markets, but maybe not all.
Hair sheep lack the carcass quality favored by buyers and consumers of hothouse lambs. The composite breeds may or may not be suitable for the hot house market. Purebred Katahdin Probably not Dorper or Dorper x Probably Katahdin x Dorper Probably Katahdin x Southdown or Dorset Probably
This is the market that hair sheep are probably best-suited for. The composite breeds are also well suited to this market. Ethnic markets often prefer tailed, intact lambs. Some ethnic customers prefer hair sheep lambs.
Any breed can be suitable for direct marketing, so long as you are producing the type of lamb that your consumer desires and is willing to pay a premium price for. Local Grass-fed Pasture-raised Naturally-raised Organic Grain-fed Light weight Mild flavor Hair sheep may be uniquely suited to grass-fed and organic production systems because of their resistance to internal parasites.
An Introduction to Hair Sheep Production www.slideshare.com/schoenian Hair Sheep Primer from Sheep 201 www.sheep101.info/201/hairsheep.html Proceedings 2005 Hair Sheep Workshop at VSU www.sheepandgoat.com/hairsheepworkshop/