Advantages of Hair Sheep

No, not all sheep have Woolly Coats, some have Hair. Hair sheep are steadily gaining popularity. Learn more about the advantages of hair sheep.

Not many people are even aware that there are a type of sheep called  “hair sheep“. Most people have only heard of, or seen, wool sheep. While most sheep are wool sheep, but there are several distinct advantages to having a sheep that has hair rather than woolly locks.  You can see that the sheep on the left in this picture below is shedding, the others are done shedding.

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mottled_sheep.jpg

The obvious advantage is that hair breeds do not need to be shorn.  Shearing is costly and often results in injury in the form of nicks and cuts. Worse accidents have been known to happen due to the catching or incorrect handling, this would include things like broken legs or ribs.

The price of unfinished wool is relatively low compared to the effort involved and sometimes producers find they pay more for the shearer than they can sell the wool for. As such sometimes wool sheep are left with their heavy coats on them, suffering in the heat for the summer. Hair sheep grow longer, thicker winter coats which they shed down to a short coat, some breeds may have small traces of wool but these are very minute and not worth trimming.

The brown sheep are Barbado ewes, the white one in the middle is a Katahdin ewe, photo by myself. 

Hair sheep do not require their tails to be docked. Docking is a procedure done to lambs a few days after birth. The reason it is done is so their droppings do not cling to their tails. Docking always has a small risk of infection and, although brief, is certainly stressful on the little ones. As adults, a ewe with a long woolly tail covered in feces is putting her nursing lambs at risk of exposure to parasites. A ewe with a big woolly tail is less likely to be bred than a ewe who has had her tail docked, or than a hair sheep ewe whose tail lacks the thick wool and is therefore smaller in size.

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3 Responses to “Advantages of Hair Sheep”
  1. Mark Says...

    On April 16, 2008 at 9:57 am

    I do want to point out that the breed I mentioned, Soay, are actually double coated – having equal parts wool and hair.


  2. Nissa Annakindt Says...

    On November 12, 2008 at 9:47 pm

    I loved your article! I bought a White Dorper ram a couple years ago to breed to my Shetland sheep and the babies turned out just great. They all shed their wool too. (Of course, Shetlands are a breed that tend to shed, so it’s not all that surprising.)

    My current White Dorper ram has a nice habit of wagging his tail when I scratch him under his chin— as contrast with my Shetland rams who tend to butt me hard if they don’t like me and butt me more softly as a sign of affection.


  3. Brenda Nelson Says...

    On June 23, 2009 at 11:28 am

    Beautiful looking animals, with great benefits, thanks


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