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  • Welcome to Sheep 101. The purpose of Sheep 101 is to teach 4-H and FFA members, students, teachers, beginning shepherds, and the general public about sheep, their products, how they are raised, and their contributions to society. The site uses simple language and pictures to illustrate the various topics. To begin learning about sheep, click on a link in the menu bar or choose a topic from the drop down menu above.

  • About the author. The author of Sheep 101 is Susan Schoenian, Sheep & Goat Specialist at the University of Maryland's Western Maryland Research & Education Center. Susan has been with University of Maryland Extension since 1988. She raises Katahdin sheep on her small farm, called The Baalands, in Clear Spring, Maryland. Susan has B.S. and M.S. degrees in Animal Science degrees from Virginia Tech and Montana State University, respectively.

  • Susan Schoenian
    Sheep & Goat Specialist
    W. MD Research & Education Center
    University of Maryland Extension - (301) 432-2767 x343


St. Croix ewes
St. Croix ewes
Photo courtesy of
Virginia State University

St. Thomas ewe and lamb
St. Thomas ewe and lamb
Image courtesy of St. Thomas Hair
Sheep Breeders of North America

Photo courtesy of
EAAP-Animal Genetic Bank

U.S. Suffolk ram
American Suffolk ram
Image courtesy of
Donner Trail Ranch

UK Suffolk ram
UK Suffolk ram
Imge courtesy of
Suffolk Sheep Society

Swaledale ram
Image by Hilary Wilson
Courtesy of Explore Cumbria

Swifter sheep
Swifter sheep
Image courtesy of The
Swifter Sheep Herdbook

Swiss Black-Brown Mountain ram
Swiss Black-Brown Mountain ram
Image courtesy of
EAAP-Animal Genetic Bank

Swiss White Alpine
Swiss White Alpine
Image courtesy of
EAAP-Animal Genetic Bank

Tan ram
Tan ram
Image source: ConSDABI

Tan ewe
Tan ram
Image source: ConSDABI

Targhee ewes
Targhee Ewes
Photo courtesy
of Robert Padula

Teeswater ewes
Image courtesy of Teeswater
Sheep Breeders Association Limited

Texas Dall rams
Texas Dall rams
Image by Ryan LeBlanc
Courtesy of Benson Farm and Ranch

Texel ram
U.S. Texel ram

UK Texel ram lamb
UK Texel ram lamb
Image courtesy of
British Texel Sheep Society

Tong ewe
Tong ewe
Image source: ConSDABI

Tong ram
Tong ram
Image source: ConSDABI

Tsigai sheep
Image courtesy of
EAAP-Animal Geneic Bank

Image source: Tukidale Sheep
Society of Australia

Tunis ewe
Image courtesy of Old
Orchard at Stockdale Farm

Tunis ram
Photo courtesy of Laurie's Lambs

Turki ram
Turki ram

Images courtesy of Fardeen Omidwar

Turki rams
Turki rams

Tyrol Mountain
Lop Eared Alpine Tyrol
Image courtesy of Jim Tardio
Photography ©

Ujumqin ram
Ujumqin ram
Image source: ConSDABI


    Sheep Breeds St - U

  • St. Croix
    (Virgin Island White)

    The St. Croix is a hair sheep that originated in the Virgin Islands, where it is called the "Virgin Island White." The breed is believed to have descended from the hair sheep of West Africa, but some feel it is a cross of the Wiltshire Horn and the native Criollo. Most of these sheep are white with some solid tan, brown, black or white with brown or black spots.

    Both sexes are polled, and rams have a large throat ruff. Exceptional parasite resistance compared to British sheep breeds has been documented in studies at several universities. The St. Croix is classified as a "rare" breed by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy.

    Breed categories: hair (meat)

    Distribution: Caribbean, North America

    Go to St. Croix Sheep Breeders Association =>
    Go to St. Croix Hair Sheep Breeders of North America =>

  • Steinschaf
    (Pecora della Roccia or del Sasso, Tiroler Steinschaf)

    The Steinschaf is a direct descendent of the now extinct Zaupelschaf. It had developed characteristics that made it perfect for life in the high mountains in the Eastern Alpine regions. In the beginning of the 20th century the Steinschaf still roamed the meadows of Bavaria, Germany, especially the areas around Berchtesgaden, Traunstein, and Rosenheim. In Austria, its range was mainly in the Salzburg area

    .The original Steinschaf used to be a dual-coated, small, and wiry high mountain sheep, weighing 28- 30 kg (62-66 lbs). It was bred twice a year and it had 20-70 % twins. The modern Steinschaf is a robust, small to medium-sized sheep with a coarse, dual-coated fleece, that can be of all colors and markings. It would benefit the breed if it could be kept exclusively on high alpine meadows, in order to retain its excellent characteristics.

    Breed categories: double-coated

    Distribution: Germany, Austria, Italy

    Go to Arbeitsgemeinschaft Krainer Steinschafe Deutschland =>
    Go to Das Alpine Steinschafe =>

  • Suffolk

    Suffolks are found throughout the world's sheep producing countries. In the United States, they are by far the most popular pure breed of sheep, accounting for more than fifty percent of purebred sheep registrations. In the British Isles, they are the leading terminal sire breed. The Suffolk breed originated almost 200 years ago on the rugged southeastern coast of England, the result of crossing Southdown rams and Norfolk Horn ewes. Originally, they were called Southdown Norfolks or just "Black faces."

    The first Suffolks were brought to the United States in 1888, but it wasn't until after the second World War when the sheep industry moved towards a larger, meatier, open faced sheep that Suffolks gained in prominence. They are a large breed with a distinctive all-black head and legs that are free of wool. Suffolk lambs grow faster than any other breed and yield heavy, high cutability carcasses of the type demanded by today's health conscience consumers.

    Breed categories: medium wool, meat

    Distribution: Worldwide

    Go to United Suffolk Sheep Association =>
    Go to Montana Suffolk Sheep Breeders Association =>
    Go to Northeast Suffolk Sheep Association =>
    Go to Suffolk Sheep Society =>
    Go to Suffolk Sheep Society South East Branch =>
    Go to Suffolk Sheep Society Northern Ireland =>
    Go to Suffolk Stamboek Nederland =>
    Go to Suffolk Sheep Society of Australia =>

  • Swaledale

    The breed's origin almost cerainly emerged from the genetic group of horned sheep from which also came the Blackface, the Rough Fell, and other localized types. Slowly over time a "Swaledale" breed type emerged from within these horned sheep.The Swaledale can now be found in both the hills and lowlands of Britain, producing both pure bred and the well-known North of England Mule (a Blue Faced Leicester cross). The Swaledale has proven itself to be a bold hardy sheep, well-fitted to endure the hardships of exposed and high lying situations. Wool is medium.

    Breed categories: medium wool, meat

    Distribution: United Kingdom

    Go to Swaledale Sheep Web Site =>

  • Swifter

    The Swifter is a new, highly productive sheep breed, which was developed in the 1970's by the Agricultural University in Wageningen, the Netherlands, to increase the productivity of the Dutch sheep stock. Swifters are used as dams for slaughter lambs. The Swifter is a product of a cross between the Texel and Flemish breeds. To obtain excellent, fast-growing lambs for slaughter, the Swifter ewe is tupped by a ram for slaughter lamb production: the Charollais, the Suffolk, or the Texel. Pedigree Swifters produce 2.5 lambs per lambing on average. 80% of ewes give birth to two or more lambs in their first year. Births are virtually always without problems.

    Breed categories: medium wool, meat

    Distribution: Europe, United Kingdom

    Go to the Swifter Sheep Herdbook =>

  • Swiss Black-Brown Mountain
    (Schwarzbraunes Bergschaf, Gebirgsschaf, Brun-Noir du Pays (BNP), Pecora giurassiana, Juraschaf)

    The Swiss Black-Brown Mountain originates from the ancient Swiss breeds Jura, Simmentaler, Saanen, Frutiger, Roux de Bagnes and Freiburger. It is a polled, medium-sized sheep, deep, and broad. The coat color is either black, chestnut colored, or light brown. Head and legs are clear of wool, covered with short black or brown hairs. The fleece of the Swiss Black-Brown Mountain is of single-color, thick, and close-cropped.

    Due to the Merino ancestry, the wool is fine and strong and is remarkable for its strength and elasticity. No kemp or white fibers are allowed. The ewes lamb quite often twice a year and have 1.7 lambs on average, thus making them an ideal mother race for crossings with meat producing rams. Swiss Black-Brown Mountain lambs, both purebred or crossbred, kill out significantly better than the Tyrol Mountain. Their bone is light, with a commendable meat to bone ratio.

    Breed categories: medium wool, meat

    Distribution: Switzerland, Austria, Italy, Germany

    Go to Black-Brown Mountain Sheep Association =>

  • Swiss White Alpine
    (Weißes Alpenschaf, Blanc des Alpes, West Swiss White)

    The Swiss White Alpine is a short-wooled breed kept primarily for meat. The breed originated in Switzerland in 1936 from a cross between the Swiss White Mountain and 50 to 75% Ile-de-France.

    Breed category: meat, medium wool

    Distribution: Switzerland, Austria, Italy, Germany

  • Tan

    Tan sheep are famous for their fur with long curled hair. The wool of Tan sheep is soft, light and puffy, with long and even fiber, suitable for making high-grade blankets, shawls and scarves. Tan sheep are raised in the desert and semi-desert regions of China.

    Breed categories: fur, meat

    Distribution: China

  • Targhee

    The Targhee is one of America's youngest breeds. It was developed in 1926 at the U.S. Sheep Experiment Station in Dubois, Idaho, from Rambouillet, Columbia and Corriedale crosses. The Targhee derives its name from the Targhee National Forest on which the experiment station's flock grazes in the summer. The forest was named for a chief of the Bannock Indians who had lived in the area in the 1860's.

    The Targhee is a dual-purpose sheep with good meat type and a heavy fleece of high quality wool. They are especially popular in Montana, Wyoming and South Dakota, where their ¾ fine wool and ¼ long wool breeding is favored by western ranchers.

    Breed categories: crossbred wool, dual-purpose

    Distribution: North America

    Go to U.S. Targhee Sheep Association =>

  • Teeswater

    Teeswater, a longwool sheep from Teesdale in the County of Durham, located in Northern England, have for almost 200 years been bred by farmers in that area of the north. Until the 1920's, the breed was comparatively rare, but now they are to be found in almost every part of the U.K.

    Their wool should be fine long-stapled lustre wool with each lock hanging free and with no tendancy to mattiness. There should be no dark fibers in the fleece, which should be uniform in texture over the whole body. The Teeswater produces a kemp free fleece, a characteristic it passes on.

    Breed category: long wool

    Distribution: United Kingdom, North America

    Go to American Teeswater Sheep Association =>
    Go to Teeswater Sheep Breeders Association Limited =>

  • Texas Dall

    The Texas Dall has no relation to the Alaskan Dall. It is a hybrid, a cross between domestic sheep (Rambouillet and Barbados Blackbelly) and the European Mouflon. Although most are white, they can range in color from white to blond or pale champagne. Some even have spotted markings, usualy fawn in color. Their horns are large and spectacular. They are raised primarily for trophy hunting.

    Breed categories: hair, exotic

    Distribution: United States

    Go to United Horned Hair Sheep Association =>

  • Texel

    The Texel originated on the Isle of Texel off the coast of the Netherlands early in the nineteenth century. They became available to U.S. sheep producers in 1990 when they were released from quarantine at the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center in Clay Center, Nebraska, where they were evaluated for their potential in crossbred lamb production.

    The most outstanding characteristics of the Texel are its remarkable muscle development and leanness. Texel-sired lambs show an advantage of one full leg score in breed comparisons and less total carcass fat—especially seam fat. The Texel has become the dominant terminal-sire breed in Europe and is gaining popularity as a sire breed in the United States.

    Breed categories: medium wool, meat

    Distribution: Worldwide

    Go to Texel Sheep Breeders Society =>
    Go to Canadian Texel Association =>
    Go to British Texel Sheep Society =>
    Go to Irish Texel Sheep Society =>
    Go to Texel Sheep Netherlands =>
    Go to the Finnish Texel Sheep Society =>
    Go to Australian Texel Stud Breeders Association =>

  • Tong

    Tong sheep originate from Mongolian sheep. They are able to withstand unfavorable environmental conditions and are found in the high plains of the northern Shaaxi Province of China, where the average temperature is 13°C and annual precipitation is 520 to 600 mm (20-24 in). Their wool is carpet wool. Wool production is low.

    Tong sheep have the ability to deposit fat in the tail. Tong lambs have beautiful curls that look like pearls. Coats made from the pelts provide warmth with light weight.

    Breed categories: fat-tail, meat, carpet wool

    Distribution: China

  • Tsigai

    Tsigai sheep originated in Southeast Europe, where they are raised for meat and milk. There are many variations of the breed. Some Tisigai populations have been improved by Merino and British meat breeds. Tsigai sheep have long tails. They are good meat and milk producers.

    Breed categories:dual-purpose, medium wool

    Distribution: Eastern and Central Europe

  • Tukidale

    Technically, the Tukidale is a not a new breed of sheep, but rather a Romney sheep carrying the T gene for hair. The breed originated on M.W. Coop's property in New Zealand from a ram born November 26, 1966. The ram possesed the T gene, which is dominant. The T gene is responsible not only for producing the specialty carpet-type fleece, but also the formation of horns in the in the male and, to a lesser extent in females.

    Tukidale sheep are easy care sheep of good conformation and high fertility, with carcass accepability. High fleece weight with a diameter in the range of 35-45 microns, with a high percentage of medulated fibers. They have an extremely fast rate of wool growth, resulting in two wool clips per year at a premium price.

    Breed category: carpet wool, dual-purpose

    Distribution: New Zealand, Australia

  • Tunis

    The Tunis is one of the oldest sheep breeds, said to have roamed the hills of Tunis and parts of Algeria in North Africa prior to the Christian era. The American Tunis evolved from a number of importations of fat-tailed sheep from Africa and the Middle East that were crossed with established European breeds to improve the breed's meat characteristics.

    The earliest documented importation occurred in 1799, a gift to the U.S. from the ruler of Tunisia and entrusted to the care of Judge Richard Peters of Pennsylvania. One of the largest advocates of the Tunis breed was Thomas Jefferson, who owned a fairly large flock. The breed could have been a major breed in this country if most of the southern flocks had not been destroyed during the Civil War.

    Tunis are a unique looking breed with an unusual color of reddish tan hair covering their legs, faces and long pendulous ears and minor fat deposits over the dock area. The Tunis is classified as a "rare" breed by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy.

    Breed categories: medium wool, meat

    Distribution: North America

    Go to National Tunis Sheep Registry, Inc. =>

  • Turki

    Afghanistan is home to many of Central Asia's most unique breeds of sheep that are particularly well-adapted to the local conditions and highly valuable commercially. The most notable is the largest breed of fat-rumped sheep, the Turki. The Turki has two distinct camel humps of fat on their behinds. They have a high growth rate and are a good producer of mutton, but are not a good wool producer. They are raised mostly in the northeastern parts of Afghanistan. Turki sheep accompany refugees to neighboring Pakistan where the breed is recognized as Afghani sheep.

    Breed categories: fat-tailed, carpet wool

    Distribution: Central Asia

  • Tyrol Mountain
    (Lop Eared Alpine Tyrol, Tiroler Bergschaf, Pecora Alpina Tirolese)

    This breed is found in Tyrol of Austria and Bolzano of Italy. It is a coarse wooled breed, belonging to the Lop-eared Alpine group, which is kept for meat production. The Tyrol Mountain is similar to the Carinthian but has better wool, a white face and longer ears. The breed is also occasionally pied or black. Both sexes are polled. The Tyrol Mountain originated from Bergamasca, Steinschaf, and Spiegel variety of Carinthian.

    Breed categories: meat, coarse wool

    Distribution: Austria, Italy, Germany, Switzerland

    Go to Alpinetgheep =>

  • Ujumqin

    The Ujumqin, a larger version of the Mongolian, is found in Inner Mongolia, China. It has a fat tail 28 cm (11.2 in) long by 36 cm (14.4 in) wide in the male, and 22 cm long by 28 cm (8.8 in) wide in the female. When dressed, the tail fat weighs 2 kg (4.4 lbs) or more. The Ujumqin was developed due to the sharp seasonal contrast in plant growth in the pastoral areas.

    The sheep tend to deposit a large amount of fat in the body in order to meet nurtitional demands during winter and spring. They are adapted to the unfavorable local environmantal conditions of the North and Northwest Pastoral Grasslands. The Ujumqin have the ability to deposit fat in the tail. Wool is coarse and production is low, with an annual grease fleece weight of only about 1 kg (2.2 lbs).

    Breed categories: fat-tail, meat, carpet wool

    Distribution: China