There are at least 200 types of sheep, although the total could be even higher. Some sources claim that there are at least 1,000 different breeds of sheep in the world. These animals belong to the genus ovis, in which rams are also found, are punctually named ovis orientalis aries.
The economic importance of the breeding of these animals for humans is truly incalculable and this is also due to the number of existing breeds. There are many ways of classifying these animals, but the most common is according to the type of wool.
1. Aragonese sheep
To this day, there is much controversy about the mutual influences between Tarasconese and Aragonese. Especially if we consider that for many centuries, it has been common for herds to mix in border regions. The Aragonese sheep breed owes its name to the characteristic short wool wick of its fleece, compared to the length of other breeds in the region, and the nickname Aragonese, as Aragon is the autonomous community where it is mostly exploited.
The aragonese is the only animal that can take advantage of the resources of the arid zones of the region in a totally sustainable way, representing the main source of income for a large number of families in rural areas.
Within this general philosophy, we could describe the typical aragonese farm to have a semi-extensive regime, based on managed grazing but with nutritional supplementation of the animals at times of greatest need, often with products produced on the farm itself, with the ewes generally being housed during lactation until weaning (about 45 days).
2. Ansotana sheep
Clearly one of the most beautiful sheep breeds out there, Ansotana sheep have straight, short ears and bulging eyes, but hardly have horns. Comparatively, their body is more compact and shows a more rectilinear profile than other types of sheep common in Europe, such as the Aragonese sheep.
The Ansotana is included in the Entrefino trunk, whose ancestral representative would be the Ovis aries celtibericus, which derives from a type of sheep that has been related to the Celtiberian people since prehistoric times. It remained in the Pyrenees, where it evolved into forms in harmony with the mountainous and humid environment of the area.
3. Texel sheep
It takes its name from the island of Texel, which is part of the islands off the coast of the Netherlands. Although known since Roman times, this breed was imported by the French in 1819. It was not until 1933 that it was truly established. Crossbreeding with English sheep breeds contributed greatly to the improvement of the species.
The Texel is a breed that is bred mainly in the open air, is precocious, fertile and a good milk producer. These sheep spend most of the year grazing. They do not flock together much and tend to isolate themselves, so it will be necessary to have a good enclosure.
This animal has the dual quality of being extremely prolific and producing an abundant fleece of long strands. This sheep is also used for meat production. The lambs are heavy, but without excess fat, which satisfies breeders. The full-bodied adults are prized for their stocky bodies, solid kidneys and shapely, well-developed legs.
It lives in Brittany, Burgundy and the large grassland areas of central France and the north are home to most of its numbers.
4. Suffolk sheep
The Suffolk is a dual-purpose breed for meat and wool. It is medium to large in size. A special characteristic of this sheep breed is that they have a short, triangular, thin tail (common in Nordic breeds). The Suffolk sheep breed originates from England.
Originally from England, this sheep was obtained by crossing Southdown and Norfolk sheep. Through genetic improvement in the United States and Canada, the result was an animal with good development and good height.
Due to its great capacity to adapt to different climates, it can currently be found in most countries in America and Europe. It requires abundant high-quality feed to enhance all its productive characteristics (wool and meat).
5. Lacaune Sheep
This breed is the result of crossbreeding between different types of sheep from the French Massif Central. The breed takes its name from a head of the region located in the middle of the Lacaune mountains, in Tarn, on the border of Hérault and Aveyron in France. Raised mainly for its milk, intended for the production of Roquefort cheese, its stud book was established in 1947.
Aveyron, Tarn and the neighboring departments account for most of the cattle, which totals more than one million head. It is raised throughout the south: from the Pyrenees to Aquitaine, via the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur and Languedoc-Roussillon regions.
So, what is the most beautiful sheep breed in your opinion? Please let us know in the comments.