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.

Hair sheep are often smaller than wool sheep, making them more manageable to work with in terms of regular handling, such as worming, or feet trimming. Smaller animals work better for people who only want them for small hobby farms or as pets. The smaller size also makes them more efficient on food, requiring less feed over the winter.

This is me and a Barbado ram lamb, about four months of age. 

Hair sheep are very attractive, some breeds resemble goats, but are much less destructive and will not climb fences. Many look exotic, with large horns or mixed colors. If you want an unusual animal but cannot have exotic animals on your farm, a hair breed sheep may make the perfect alternative.

Hair breed sheep may be crossed with wool breed sheep. However one must be careful to use the larger ewes and the smaller ram. I have been breeding a Barbado hair sheep ram to many different wool breed ewes and been happy with the results, there are fewer lambing problems as the hair ram produces smaller lambs.

Hair breed sheep are noted for having a high resistance to internal parasites and because of their coats are more resistant to heat and humidity.

Black headed Persian Sheep

Most hair breed sheep are considered meat animals only, however a growing trend of keeping sheep as lawn, or pasture, control has resulted in many people wanting them as pets or living lawn ornaments. On hobby farms where uncontrolled pasture grass becomes a fire hazard, a hair breed sheep may be the ideal choice.

Some common breeds of hair sheep are: Barbado (also known as American Blackbelly), Barbados Blackbelly, Dorper, Katahdin, Painted Desert, Persian, Pelibuey, and St Croix. The sheep in the photo below is one of my Barbado ewes and her two new lambs.

image source

Some people have said hair sheep are more “wild” in nature than are wool breeds. I believe this is due to their wild look, and is not true of their behavior. I have owned several hair sheep and have not had an issue with them behaving wildly. I have one ram who is harness trained and will follow me like a puppy, and many ewes who will eat out of my hand. I do not find them as aggressive at the feeder as the larger wool sheep.

If you handle your sheep with kindness and teach them that you are their main source of getting food, they will not be frightened by you any more than another sheep would.

This article was written with the help of my wife and the inspiration of my sheep

Further Reading

Our Sheep Blog

Unusual Pets: Sheep

How to Care for Bottle Baby Lambs

10 Funky Farm Animals

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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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