Sheep: Meat, Wool, & Milk
Sheep & The Many Ways We Use ThemAnimal Science
What do we use sheep for?MeatWoolDairy
MeatMost sheep in the U.S. are raised for meat.LambLess than one year of age.~200 million pounds are sold annually in U.S.MuttonOver one year of age.
WoolThe original primary use for sheep in the U.S.Demand has declined since the 1940s due to synthetic fibers.Each sheep yields approximately 5-15 lbs. per shearing.
Wool cont.Greasy WoolRaw wool before being processed.Clean WoolWool after it has been processed.In 2011 there were approximately 30 million pounds of greasy wool produced.This was processed into approximately 16 million pounds of clean wool.DairyMakes up 1.3% of world dairy production.One dairy ewe can produce 400-1,100 pounds annually. 6-8% Fat Content (Important for Cheese)Used for cheese, yogurt, & butter.Some of these cheeses can sell for up to $50/lbs.
Breeds of Sheep
Breeds of SheepCertain breeds are better at certain things than others.MeatHairWoolDairyEvery breed falls into at least one of these categories.MeatThese breeds are used primarily for meat production.Certain meat breeds fall into the hair sheep category because they have hair instead of wool.
SuffolkDeveloped in Britain; introduced to U.S. in 1888.Largest sheep in U.S.Mature WeightsRam: 275-400 lbs.Ewes: 200-300 lbs.
HampshireDeveloped in Hampshire County England; officially introduced to the U.S. in 1879.Mature WeightRam: 250-350 lbs.Ewe: 175-250 lbs.Known for large head.
OxfordDeveloped in England; introduced to U.S. in 1846.Mature WeightsRam: 225-325 lbs.Ewe: 150-200 lbs.
Dorset (Horned & Polled)Originated in southern England; introduced to U.S. in 1885.Polled breed was developed in North Carolina in 1948.Mature WeightRam: 225-275 lbs.Ewe: 150-200 lbs.
SouthdownOriginated in England; introduced to the U.S. in 1803.One of the oldest breeds.Mature WeightRam:180-230 lbs.Ewe: 120-180 lbs.
ShropshireOriginated in England; introduced to the U.S. in 1855.Farm flock sheep.Mature WeightRam: 225-290 lbs.Ewe: 170-200 lbs.
CheviotDeveloped in Scotland; introduced to U.S. in 1838.Known for ruggedness.Mutton BreedMature WeightRam: 160-200 lbs.Ewe: 120-160 lbs.
Hair SheepThis is a sub-category of the meat category.Hair sheep were developed for lamb and mutton production in tropical areas.Very popular in the sheep industry; especially in the South and Carribean.These sheep are year around breeders.DorperDeveloped in South Africa; introduced to U.S. within the past 30 years.Black Head & WhiteMature WeightRam: 220-250 lbs.Ewe: 170-200 lbs.Popular meat breed.
Barbados & American BlackbellyOriginated in Barbados from West African sheep; introduced to U.S. in 1904.American Blackbelly was developed in Texas.Mature WeightRam: 90-150 lbs.Ewe: 85-100 lbs.
KatahdinDeveloped in Maine; perfected during the 1970s.Largest hair breed.Mature WeightRam: 175-250 lbs.Ewe: 120-160 lbs.
WoolThese breeds are used primarily for wool production.Most farms that raise sheep for their wool are located in the northern & western parts of the U.S.RambouilletDeveloped in France & Germany; introduced to U.S. in mid-1800s.Largest of Fine Wool breeds.Foundation of U.S. Range Flock.Can be used for meat.Mature WeightRam: 200-300 lbs.Ewe: 140-180 lbs.Grease Fleece Weight10-15 lbs.
Delaine-MerinoDeveloped in Spain and brought to America through colonization.Unbroken line of breeding for 1,200 years.Mature WeightRam: 190-240 lbs.Ewe: 125-160 lbs.Grease Fleece Weight9-14 lbs.
ColumbiaDeveloped in the U.S. in 1912; first U.S. breed.Increasing in use as a terminal sire.Mature WeightRam: 250-350 lbs.Ewe: 160-240 lbs.Greace Fleece Weight12-16 lbs.
RomneyDeveloped in England; introduce to the U.S. in 1904.Mature WeightRam: 200-275 lbs.Ewe: 150-200 lbs.Grease Fleece Weight10-18 lbs.
CorriedaleDeveloped in New Zealand; introduced to the U.S. in 1914.Mature WeightRam: 220-275 lbs.Ewe: 150-200 lbs.Grease Fleece Weight10-15 lbs.
TargheeDeveloped in the U.S. in 1926.Primarily in intermountain & northern states.Mature WeightRam: 200-300 lbs.Ewe: 140-200 lbs.Grease Fleece Weight10-14 lbs.
Gulf CoastDeveloped in the South; descendants of colonial sheep.Tolerant of parasites and heat.Wool & MeatMature WeightRam: 145-180 lbs.Ewe: 85-115 lbs.Grease Fleece Weight4-6 lbs.
DairyThese breeds are used primarily for dairy production.There are several dairy breeds worldwide but only a few in the U.S.East FriesianDeveloped in Germany and Netherlands; introduced to the U.S. in 1994.Highest milk producing breed.Mature WeightRam: 225-270 lbs.Ewe: 160-180 lbs.
Types of Sheep Producers
Purebred BreederRaises sheep for breeding stock.Provides the ewes and rams that will be used to produce commercial lambs.
Commercial Slaughter Lamb ProducerRaises the lambs from birth to when they are sold for slaughter.Main goal is to produce well finished, heavy lambs by weaning.Weaned lambs typically weigh 60 lbs.Lambs are penned & fed with a target weight of 120 lbs.
Commercial Feeder Lamb ProducersLambs are not fully fed out.Option for farmers that do not have good pasture.Lambs are sold to a commercial feedlot.Lambs weigh around 80-90 lbs. when sold.
Commercial Feedlot OperatorLambs are bought from commercial feeder lamb producers.Lambs are treated for internal parasites and diseases.Lambs should gain about 0.5-0.8 lb. per day.Target weight of 130 lbs.