Hampshire Down Sheep Breed

The Hampshire sheep breed also known as Hampshire down was established in the UK in the early 1800s. It is a result of crossing Southdown with old Hampshire breeds like Berkshire Nott and Wiltshire Horn. The breed was widely used in sheep breeding up to the early 1990s by crossing it with other sheep breeds like Menz sheep and Amedguya sheep. The resulting animals appeared to be more adaptive to changing climatic and environmental conditions; however, their skins were of poor quality. The breed is currently used worldwide for cross-breeding to develop high-quality lambs for mutton production.

Characteristics of the Breed

  • Hampshire is an early maturing sheep breed.
  • Its carcass is of a high quality.
  • It is a large sheep breed; a mature Hampshire ram weighs 125kgs while a ewe weighs 90kgs.
  • The Hampshire sheep is popular for producing good quality wool averaging 2.5-4.5kg, having a stable length of 9cm.
  • Its coat color is white with the forehead, ears, and legs being black. Under-tail is also black.
  • Both rams and ewes of Hampshire breed are polled.

Dorper Sheep Breed

Dorper is a meat breed of sheep that was developed by crossing Dorset Horn and black head Persian Persian breeds, in South Africa. As a result, the breed is widely distributed in southern African, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Botswana. It is also found in Kenya. The breed can also be found in other countries of the world.

Characteristics of the Breed

  • Its coat color is white except the head and the neck which is black. However, there are Dorper which are solid white.
  • It has a mixture of hair and wool covering its body.
  • The breed is highly adapted to dry climatic conditions and can perform well under different systems of production.
  • Dorper sheep breed is a polled breed.
  • A mature Dorper ewe weighs 60kgs.
  • The breed is suitable for meat production due to its fast growth rate and good body conformation.

Merino Sheep Breed

Merino sheep breed originated from Extremadura in southwestern Spain in the 12th century. The breed was also improved there. It is most economically popular sheep breed, priced for its wool. Merinos are regarded as having the finest and soft wool compared to other sheep breeds.

Characteristics of the Breed

  • Merino rams are horned, having either short sturdy or long spiraling horns that grow close to the head. Polled merino strains also exist.
  • It is developed kept exclusively for wool, though others like the South African, German and American merino have been bred to cater for both meat and wool production.
  • Its body is smaller than other sheep breeds.
  • Merino sheep are excellent grazers and adapt well to a variety of climatic and management conditions.
  • Merino sheep produce white fine and soft wool.
  • Mature merino rams weigh an average of 85-105kg while ewes weigh 55-85kgs.
  • It is a docile breed of sheep.

Corriedale Sheep Breed.

Corriedale is an exotic sheep breed that originated from New Zealand. It is one of the oldest sheep breeds that was developed by crossing merino with Lincoln sheep breeds between 1868 and 910 and was used widely in improving sheep in ranches. The breed was introduced in the USA in 1914 and is the most popular breed in Uruguay.

Characteristics of Corriedale sheep Breed.

  • It is a dual purpose breed.
  • The breed has high longevity coupled with high fertility and good mothering ability.
  • It is a docile sheep breed.
  • Mature Corriedale rams weigh about79-125kgs while ewes weigh 59-82kg.
  • Corriedale lambs are known for high-quality carcass and high pelt value.
  • Corriedale produce a high yield of medium fine wool, with considerable length and softness.
  • It is a hardy breed that is well adapted to a variety of climatic conditions.
  • Corriedale is a polled sheep breed.

Dorset Sheep Breed

The origin of Dorset breed is not exactly known; its earlier populations of horned breeds are traced back to Dorset, Devon, Somerset, and wales. Polled Dorset originated in North Carolina state college as a result of mutation of horned breeds bred at the college and was officially accepted in 1956. Its popularity has grown over the years in the USA to become number one white face sheep breed, ranking only second after Suffolk sheep breed.

Characteristics of the Breed

  • Dorset is either horned or polled. With the horned strain, horns curve forwards.
  • Its coat color is white in color.
  • A mature Dorset ram weighs 102- 125kg while ewes weigh 68-90kg.
  • Dorset ewes have good mothering ability and are good milkers, multiple births are common.
  • The breed has good body conformation and produces desired quality carcass.
  • Its stable length ranges between 6 and 10 cm. its fleece is white in color averaging 2.25-4kg.
  • Dorset sheep have the ability to breed offseason.

Suffolk Sheep Breed

Suffolk sheep is a dual purpose sheep breed that originated in England and is one of the oldest British breeds that has been in existence since the late 1700s. It was developed by crossing Norfolk horned ewes with Southdown rams. It is widely used in the UK and Ireland as a terminal sire.

Characteristics of the Breed

  • Suffolk sheep is a large breed of sheep. Mature rams weigh 110kg -160kg while ewes weigh 80- 113kg.
  • Its fleece is of a medium wool type and is 2.3-3.6kg.
  • The stable length of its fleece measures 5-6.75cm and a spinning count of 48-58.
  • Kept for wool and mutton production.
  • Suffolk coat color is white with head and legs being black.
  • Suffolk sheep breed usually suffers spider lamp syndrome congenital abnormality.
  • The breed has an excellent body conformation making it suitable as a meat breed.
  • It is a polled sheep breed.
  • Suffolk ewes have easy lambing and ample milking ability

Blackhead Persian Sheep Breed

Blackhead Persian sheep is a hair sheep that originated in Somalia in the horn Africa. It is also known as Swartkoppersie. It is a descendant of Somali sheep that inhabit the Horn of Africa. The breed was exported to South Africa in 1870 and bred with Dorset to produce the Dorper breed. Since then, it has been exported to many regions and countries for crossbreeding.

Characteristics of the Breed

  • Blackhead Persian is a fat-tailed sheep breed with its tail full of fats.
  • Its head as the name suggests is black while the rest of the body is white. Its neck is also black
  • Its body is covered with hair instead of wool like other sheep breeds.
  • It is a polled sheep breed, with long dangling (pendulous) ears.
  • Blackhead Persian breed is kept for meat production.
  • It is a hardy breed that can tolerant extreme ASAL heat.
  • Rump and the rest of the tail has massive fat deposits which are usually harvested for cooking when slaughtered.
  • A mature ram weighs 68kg while ewes weigh 52 kg.
  • Its milk production is 50 kg per lactation with 5.9% butterfat content.

Red Maasai Sheep Breed.

Red Maasai sheep breed is native to East Africa and was kept by the Maasai of Kenya and Tanzania; now found in Kenya and Tanzania. It originated from Kenya; it was kept by the farming communities in the rift valley. The breed has since been crossbred with other sheep breeds like Dorper. There is only a small remaining percentage of pure red Maasai sheep. The breed was kept primarily for meat since it does not produce wool. The breed was kept due to its hardiness and resistance to internal parasites and harsh climatic conditions.

Breed Characteristic

  • It is a hair sheep breed.
  • The breed, despite its unproductiveness, is a hardy breed that endures ASAL conditions and internal parasites.
  • It is a fat-tailed sheep with massive fat deposits on the tail and rump.
  • Its coat color is brown; some white with brown head.
  • The breed is kept for meat production.
  • Rams are either horned or polled, ewes are exclusively polled


Dorset sheep breed

Continental Dorset Club

American Hampshire Association

Australian Dorper and White Dorper Association

Dorper Breeders Society of South Africa

Australian Corriedale Association

Australian Association of Stud Merino Breeders

Suffolk Sheep Society

United Suffolk Sheep Association