The original coat of the hair sheep was long coarse hair with a soft
fluffy underbelly. It was only the underbelly of the sheep that was able
to be used for clothing. Some excellent examples of what wild sheep
looked like are the Barbados Blackbelly (above left) and the Mouflon
(lower right.) (photos courtesy of Oklahoma State University)
The primary difference between
hair sheep and wool sheep is in the ratio of secondary hair/ kemp to
primary wool and skin follicles. Hair sheep have a mixture of hair and
wool that sheds naturally in the spring.
Studies have shown that hair sheep are very competitive with the wool
type sheep when comparing average daily gain, feed intake/d, feed/gain
ratio, and dry matter/gain ratio. The close comparisons also hold true
with carcass data where hot carcass weight, rib eye area, conformation
score, lean color, fat thickness, and body wall thickness were
measured.A group of Katahadin
(K), Wiltshire Horn (W) and Columbia and Hampshire (CH) sired lambs out
of commercial ewes were placed on a finishing trial for a 78 day
duration. A 16 percent protein complete mixed ration containing 12 per
cent alfalfa pellets as a roughage source was fed free choice.
Katahdin sheep are a breed of hair sheep developed in the United
States. In Maine a farmer took three African hair sheep lambs, one ram
and two ewes, he bred them with Tunis, Southdown, Hampshire, and
Suffolk. After he got the base he was after, he then continued to cross
with crosses of other breeds to achieve high hair coat, meat-type
conformation, high fertility, and flocking instinct, this goal was
finally met in the late 1970’s, resulting in today’s Katahdin. No hair
color is required.
Dorpers (upper right) were a mutton breed developed from the Dorset
Horn and Blackheaded Persian. It has a long breeding season which is not
seasonally limited. They are also a very hardy breed. They come in two
color patterns. One is all white and the other is white with a black
head. The modern breed association was founded in the U.S in 1964.
The Barbados (upper left) breed originated in Texas from the Barbados
Blackbelly sheep which were crossed with Ramboulliet and mouflon. The
female is polled and the male is horned. These sheep are used in the
western states on ranches for hunting. The males are prized for their
Hair Sheep. Schoenian Susan. April 24, 2005. http://www.sheep101.info/hair.html
Meat, Wool, or Milk. Schoenian Susan. December 28, 2005. http://www.sheep101.info/201/meatwoolmilk.html
Perhaps, You Should Consider Hair Sheep. Schoenian Susan. November 1999.
Evaluation of Katahdin and Wiltshire Horn (Hair Sheep) Breeds: Progress
Report. Moore B.L, Berg P.T, Limesand W, Haugen R.G, and Tufte D. http://www.ag.ndsu.nodak.edu/hettinge/livestock/2002sheepday/MooreHairsheep.htm