10 Black Faced Sheep Breeds with Pictures

Black-faced sheep? Like seriously? I bet you reacted the same way when you heard about them for the first time. Black-faced sheep are found in every inch of the planet earth and they have been a source of wool and meat for us. 

All black-faced sheep except one or two are good fleece wool producers. Their wool is used to make rugs, carpets, and wall hangings, etc. Nearly 40 percent of wool requirements are being fulfilled by these hardy creatures.

There could be some other black-faced breeds as well but these are the few registered and recognized ones. 

Black Faced Sheep Breeds

  • Black Welsh Mountain 
  • Suffolk
  • Hampshire
  • Shropshire
  • Karakul
  • Dorper
  • Romanov
  • Zwartbles
  • Clun Forest
  • Scottish Blackface
  • Valais Blacknose

1. Black Welsh Mountain

Black Welsh Mountain

Black Welsh Mountain sheep, being prolific, undemanding, and self-reliant, are the absolute favorite among the farmers. They are not just the beautiful black-faced sheep but they also possess easy keeping nature and excellent maternal characteristics. 

According to a recent estimate, the total population of Black Welsh Mountain sheep is 10,000, and most of them living on the hills in Wales. The wool obtained from this breed is thick, short, and firm to handle.

The solid black color, improved milking ability, and high fertility became the reasons for their popularity. To admire the beauty of these sheep, the song “Black Welsh Sheep” was released back in 2012 by a brand named State Radio.

History

Black Welsh Mountain sheep carry a century-long history on their backs. This black face sheep breed belongs to the high mountain Valleys of South Wales. They started gaining a reputation when the first Black Welsh Mountain breeders society was formed in 1920. They made it to the United States of America in 1972  and thus this was the beginning of their era.

Height

Male

51 to 76 centimeters 

Female

51 to 76 centimeters 

Weight

Male

130-145lbs

Female

Up to 100lbs

Use

They are raised for meat, milk, and lovely black wool known as “cuchddu”.

Horn status

Rams, belonging to this breed, have a set of beautifully curved thick horns but ewes are polled(hornless). 

2. Suffolk

Suffolk-sheep

Another widely famous name in the list of black-faced sheep is Suffolk. Suffolk is a domestic British breed that originated in the eighteenth century.  

This black-faced sheep was first popular among the livestock keepers by numerous names like black faces and Southdown-Norfolks, later they were recognized as ” Suffolk” in 1797.

This breed is famous for its alertness, stamina, and quality. Besides being admired in the country of their origin, they are also famous in Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Kenya, Italy, Germany, New Zealand, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, and several other countries for their well-adapted nature.

History

This breed was developed in England by mating Norfolk ewes with Southdown rams in the 18th century. Because of their improved characteristics, they were soon recognized as a Separate breed in 1810. In the 19th century, they started traveling around to new continents and became one of the most numerous sheep breeds in the world.

These black-faced sheep are now considered a popular domestic sheep breed in the United Kingdom.

Height:

Male

80 centimeters 

Female

74 centimeters 

Weight

Male

Up to 275lbs

Female

194lbs

Use

They are usually looked down on for their medium quality wool. Can be kept for milk but generally, they are referred to as “breed for the table”.

Horn status

Polled

3. Hampshire

Hampshire sheep

Hampshire, a large, blocky dark shaped breed, originates from Hampshire, England. The superior meat breed became a part of the sheep world in 1829.

For their white color and large, muscular deep blocky body they are often called “the oxen of the sheep world”. The modern Hampshire breed is an outcome of mating Southdown rams and old Hampshire ewes.

History

Traditional Hampshire appeared on the map of the world in 1829. The traditional Hampshire breed was neither good for meat nor wool whereas Southdown sheep were excellent meat and wool producers.

So, as a result of cross-breeding these two different breeds, modern Hampshire came into existence nearly around 1890. A century after the civil war Hampshire sheep were actively bred to meet the requirements of the sheep industry.

Weight

Male

Up to 275lbs

Female

Up to 200lbs

Height

Male

Approximately up to 130 centimeters 

Female

Approximately up to 117 centimeters 

Use

Due to improved characteristics, the modern Hampshire black-faced sheep breed is raised to fulfill the meat and wool requirements of the industry.

Horn status

Polled

4. Shropshire

Shropshire sheep

Shropshire black-faced sheep become popular for their adaptable nature and supernatural meat and wool production.  

The symmetrical long, deep body makes them look more attractive and strong. Female Shropshire is generally a good mother.

Shropshire sheep breed took the queue of the most popular and influential sheep breeds between 1920-1930 in the United States and since then there is no stopping.

History

Unfortunately, due to lack of record,  the exact origin of this breed is unclear but it is believed that the improved modern Shropshire breed is a result of mating traditional Shropshire and Staffordshire sheep.

Shropshire gained recognition in 1859 as its popularity was rapidly growing not only in the neighborhood but in the farthest parts of the world as well. They were welcomed by Australia, New Zealand, and South America first and then by the rest of the world.

Weight

Male

225 to 250lbs

Female

150 to 180lbs

Height

Male

Approximately up to 130 centimeters 

Female

Approximately up to 117 centimeters 

Use

Though they produce fine quality wool they are mainly raised for meat.

Horn status

Polled

5. Karakul

Karakul sheep

Karakul sheep breed is known for its dramatic appearance and ability to live in extremely harsh conditions. But unfortunately, they are currently listed as endangered.

Karakul, besides being the backbone of most rural livelihood, is associated with the fashion industry as well for it’s finest quality wool.

Karakul is applauded by many names like Sawakra sheep in Namibia, Botswana, and South Africa, Persian Lamb in Italy, Astrakhan sheep in Russia, and Garakoli Bagana in Turkey.

History

The Karakul is the oldest domestic sheep breed that originates from a village in Central Asia called Karakul. 

They were taken to the USA between 1908 to 1920. They were successful in capturing the interest of Americans for a few years but as they found the better pelt provider their demand started decreasing drastically. But no alternative could bring down their value in their hometown.

Weight

Male

143 to 183lbs

Female

99 to 132lbs

Height

Male

75 to 80 centimeters 

Female

65 to70 centimeters 

Use

They have been serving us with milk, meat, pelt, and wool since 1400 BC. For being a fur doner they are often called “fur sheep”.

Horn status

Ewes are generally polled but rams belonging to this breed can be horned or polled.

6. Dorper

Dorper-sheep

This south Asian black-faced sheep breed is probably the weirdest sheep you would ever see. They are broad, large, and muscular. This breed was developed by mating Dorset horn and Blackhead Persian sheep. 

Dorper is the second-largest popular breed in South Africa. This fast-growing sheep breed is also commonly raised in the tropical areas of Australia. Dorper sheep can reproduce up to 7 years.

The Dorper sheep breed requires minimal input of labor as it can survive on grazing alone. They habitually eat bushes, weeds, and such other unimportant stuff to survive.

History

This breed was thoughtfully developed in 1930 for the extensive regions of South Africa. Early in 1930 when South African rams and lambs were rejected by the Londoners the South African farmers took it as a challenge to develop a meat sheep breed.

This project was finalized in 1946 and an association ( South African Dropper Breeders) dedicated to this project was formed. Continuous efforts and experiments lead to the foundation of this breed.

Now this distinguished generation that is considered the second largest sheep breed in South Africa has won the hearts of Mexicans, Australians, Canadians, and Americans.

Weight

Male

Approximately up to 230lbs

Female

Approximately up to 210lbs

Height

Males

Up to 117 centimeters 

Females

Up to 130 centimeters 

Use

This breed is usually raised for meat.

Horn status:

Polled

7. Romanov

Romanov sheep

This Russian sheep breed is named after a town located in the upper Volga region in Russia. This example of black face sheep is famous for its phenomenal sexual maturity.

Rams and ewes belonging to this generation get sexually matured at just 3 months of their age. Lambs are usually born black but their color keeps turning lighter as they age. 

The ewes from this generation of sheep have seen giving birth to quadruplets, quintuplets, and even sextuplets. The lesser-known fact about this breed is that Romanov is a ” pure gene” not a cross.

History

They stayed in their country of origin for centuries. They were noticed roaming around outside Russia in the 18th century.  As they moved out of their town they became the talk of the town for their black face and thus this opened their way to the world. Romanov sheep are now found commonly found in almost all parts of the planet Earth.

Weight

Males

121 to 194lbs

Females

88 to 110lbs

Height

Males

117 centimeters approximately 

Females

91 centimeters approximately 

Use

Romanov black-faced sheep are kept and raised for wool and meat. Their grey-ish black wool is used to make rugs, mats, and wall hangings, etc.

Horn status

Polled

8. Clun Forest

Shepherds prefer Clun Forest for their hardy disposition, high fertility, and self-reliance. This adaptable breed, being a good forager, can forage and fend for itself. 

The breed captivates the onlooker with its beautiful, bold eyes, and black face. For this unique appearance, it is popular among both hobby farmers and large commercial flock owners. 

The rich dark-colored face with woolen top knot gives the breed a lively appearance. The superiority of the wool obtained from Clun Forest that their wool is free from the undesirable black fibers and kemp.

History

The breed got their name from their place of origin, Clun Forest in Shropshire, England. The Clun Forest breed is believed to be the combination of Hill Radnor, Shropshire, and Kerry Hill.

Height

Male

200 lbs on average 

Female

150 lbs on average

Weight

Male

175-200 lbs

Female

130-160 lbs

Uses

The multipurpose breed is primarily raised for meat, wool, and high butterfat milk.

Horn Status

Polled

9. Scottish Blackface

scottish blackface

Scottish Blackface sheep are attractive and hardy, well-known for their ability to fit into any farming conditions. The wool gathered from this sheep breed is used in carpets, Irish and Scottish tweeds.

The population of Scottish Blackface ewes present in Britain crosses three million and the breed is responsible for nearly 40% of the total wool production of Scotland. 

For their remarkable survivability, adaptability, and versatility they are considered the hardiest sheep breed. They are superb milk producers and quite smarter than all other sheep breeds found in the world.

History

The origin of Scottish Blackface is lost over time, however, the breed developed in the border area of Scotland and England. The breed evolved over the years and now has three types; Perth, Lanark, and Northumberland. The breed is considered the backbone of the Scottish wool industry.

Height

Male

130 cm on average

Female

117 cm on average

Weight

Male

150 – 180 lbs

Female

110 – 160 lbs

Uses

Scottish Blackface is primarily bred for meat and wool. They produce wool with a fiber diameter of 28–38 μm and a staple length of 250-350mm.

Horn Status

Horned

10. Valais Blacknose

valais blacknose

Anyone who posses an eye for a sheep would admire the beauty and strength of Valais Blacknose. Because of its hardy nature they can survive on Stoney pasture and poor grazing as well.

As the breed’s name gives away, Valais Sheep have a black nose that extends up to the center of the head. The attractive appearance has made a lot of people “a pet owner” across the globe.

Apart from its beautiful black face, the breed is known for hardiness and their ability to survive harsh climatic conditions. With all the other pros, they are fluffy and cute.

History

Originated in the Valais region of Switzerland, the history of the breed goes back to the 15th century. Some evidence suggests the breed’s crossing with the Bergamasca and Cotswold and Southdown stock.

Height

Male

76-82 cm

Female

70-76 cm

Weight

Male

175-275 lbs

Female

150-200 lbs

Uses

Valais Blacknose comes under the category of “dual-purpose” breed, raised for meat and wool. Their annual wool production stands at 4kg per head.

Horn Status

Horned

Frequently Asked Questions

Can sheep be black and white?

Yes, sheep can be black and white. Many people believe the color of the sheep to be pure white or creamy white, however, it is far from the truth. Many color variation exists among numerous sheep breeds.

Are there any black-faced sheep?

Yes, there are a lot of black-faced sheep breeds. Scottish Blackface, Dorpor, Black Welsh Mountain, and Suffolk sheep are the most popular example of black-faced sheep in the world.

Which breed of sheep has a black face?

The sheep recognized under the breed ” blackface sheep” have black faces. Romanov, Dorper, karakul, Suffolk, Shropshire are a few examples of black-faced sheep.

What are black-faced sheep good for?

Black-faced sheep are excellent wool and meat producers.  More than 40 percent of the world’s wool requirements are fulfilled by the black-faced sheep.

Why do Sheep have black faces?

Both wool and meat-type sheep can have black faces. Sheep tend to have black faces if the gene is passed down from parents to the offspring.

Are Black-faced sheep any different?

Just because some breeds have black faces does not make them less of a sheep or give them an edge over the other breeds. It’s just that some sheep have inherited black faces from their ancestors.

Related Articles

Leave a Comment