Photo courtesy of Beer Mill Farm
Photo courtesy of American Jacob Sheep Registry
Baa Baa Black Sheep
- White wool
Most modern domesticated sheep grow white wool. This is because
white wool is more desirable in the commercial market place because
it can be dyed any color. However, sheep with white wool may have
different color faces and legs.
- Natural-colored wool
Handspinners, weavers, and other wool craftsmen often prefer "natural
colored" wool. Wool is naturally produced in many beautiful
colors: black, gray, silver, brown, red, and moorit. Some sheep
have spotted fleeces..
- Fleece inheritance
It's not uncommon for black or colored lambs to be born in a white
flock to white parents. However, in order for this to happen,
both of the lamb's parents must be carrying a gene for color.
The inheritance of fleece or coat color can be quite complicated.
Different genes control what color the fleece will be, what pattern
it will be, and whether the fleece will be solid or spotted.
- Color change
The lambs of some breeds are born black or red and their fleeces
lighten as they get older.
- Spotted sheep
One of the most uniquely-colored breeds is the Jacob. The Jacob's
fleece is described as white with black spots. The white wool
grows out of white skin. The black wool growns out of black skin.
The Jacob's spotted fleece is mentioned in the Bible. Prior to
the 20th century, Jacob sheep were referred to as "Piebald"
- Get your markers in
In the Old West, a few black sheep wandered the range. These colored
animals were used as markers, one for every hundred sheep. The
old timers counted the sheep and said, "Once your markers
are in, your flock is in."