Sheep Breeds

Suited to the conditions

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Choice of Breed

The choice of breeds or strains should take into account the capacity of animals to adapt to local conditions, their vitality and their resistance to disease as well as their product quality. These qualities often exist in indigenous breeds.

Breed Characteristics

There are many different sheep breeds and crossbreed options to suit a diverse range of environments. There are a number of websites that provide information on breeds, from a range of perspectives. The National Sheep Association in the UK produces an alphabetic index of sheep breeds suited to conditions in northern Europe A more comprehensive list and description of global breeds can be found at, and includes breeds found in temperate and tropical regions. The British Wool Marketing Board has an interesting list and description of sheep breeds according to their wool quality and characteristics Oklahoma State University, Department of Animal Science also has a comprehensive list and descriptions of sheep breeds, as well as other species, from around the world

Use of Indigenous and Local breeds

The emphasis on indigenous breeds may be interpreted as a preference for native and local breeds. The advantage of these to the ewe, from a health and welfare perspective, are emphasised by van Diepen et al (2007) as:

  • More likely to utilize lower quality feed;
  • Being more resilient to climatic stress; and
  • Being more resistant to local parasites and diseases.

In addition, local and native breeds represent a unique genetic resource for improving health and performance traits in the future. However, these characteristics often have to be balanced with economic efficiency and market requirements. Local breeds, under good production conditions, tend to be less productive than improved breeds.

Sheep Breeds References
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  • Livestock should be land-based and integrated with farm cropping enterprises
  • Animals should be provided with conditions that enable them to exhibit natural behaviors
  • Dependency on veterinary medicines should be reduced without jeopardizing the well-being of animals


outdoor access

Animals having outdoor access, shade, shelter, lighting and sufficient space for them to undertake free movement and to exhibit natural behaviors.


Using breeds and strains well-suited and adapted to the prevailing conditions.

Health Plan

Implementing herd and flock planning based on sound ecological practices and epidemiological knowledge.


Undertaking good practice with regard to biosecurity.

closed herds

Maintaining animals in closed herds and flocks and at stocking rates that enables free-movement, reduces risks of disease spread and minimizes environmental damage.

forage and grazing

Forage and grazing being the main source of nutrients for ruminants, and continuously available to non-ruminants.

production practices

Avoiding the use of mutilations as standard production practices.


Improved understanding and responsible usage of veterinary medicines.