What is a Hair Sheep?

What is a Hair Sheep?

All types of sheep have wool.  But not all sheep growl curly masses of it all over their bodies.  Some sheep grow mostly hair.

Every sheep has two kinds of hair:

  1. Coarse outer guard hairs.
  2. Soft, wooly undercoat hairs.

The difference between a wool sheep and a hair sheep is the proportion of each that a sheep grows.  A wool sheep grows a disproportionate amount of undercoat.  A hair sheep grows mainly hair.

Why Would You Want a Sheep Without Wool?

In some climates, wool is a hot, heavy encumbrance to a sheep.  It has been estimated that 90% of the world’s hair sheep population comes from Africa.

Of course, you can’t shear a hair sheep.  It has an entirely different purpose—meat.

Hair sheep are preferred to wool sheep for meat purposes for a number of reasons:

  • More mild-flavored meat.
  • No need for shearing and tail-docking.
  • Better vigor.
  • More economical to fatten.

Hair sheep can also produce leather as a useful byproduct.  Because of differences in numbers and kinds of hair follicles, leather from hair sheep is far superior to that from wool sheep in texture and appearance.

Examples of Hair Sheep Breeds

  • American Blackbelly.
  • Barbados Blackbelly.
  • Dorper.
  • Katahdin.
  • St. Croix.
Helpful Resource

Hair Sheep Breeds
Find out more about hair sheep breeds from Oklahoma State University.

By hsotr

Pulling from nearly 20 years of experience, Michelle Lindsey started Homestead on the Range to help Kansans and others around flyover country achieve an abundant country lifestyle. Michelle is the author of four country living books. She is also a serious student of history, specializing in Kansas, agriculture, and the American West. When not gardening or pursuing hobbies ranging from music to cooking to birdwatching, she can usually be found researching or writing about her many interests.