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10 Most Popular Sheep Breeds Raised For Meat And Wool

Sheep breeds are highly demanded in the areas where people have backyards or farms. It is indeed among the highly adored backyard fellows because of its advantages. It is a multi-purpose livestock that is raised for skin, meat, dairy and fiber. Truly, all the breeds of sheep can be used for dual-purpose; that is meat and fiber. However, particularly some breeds excel in one aspect. For example, there may be one kind of breed that tastes amazing; some type may be fantastic in providing with a good amount of milk. This also depends upon their growth cycle; therefore, you must choose the breed after clearly understanding the benefits of each types of breed.

10 most popular sheep breeds are:

1: Merino:

It is the sheep breed, which remains popular for its quality wool. It produces a premium quality fine sheep fleece, which is highly demanded all over the world. The hand-spun obtained from merino is used in making clothes for babies, shawls and other warm accessories. However, it cannot be used in daily wear. It is sensitive to handle, so only the experienced weavers tend to purchase this high quality wool. If you have it as your livestock, you can earn a lot.

Sheep Breeds

Wool Sheep Breeds:

2: Leicester Long-wool Sheep

With the origin from Britain, these medium to large sized, curly hair sheep breed is known for its quality carcass. Not only this, but it is also valued for its skin by the weavers. It is considered as “rare” in many parts of the world – but, farmers are trying to form newer breeds out of this wool sheep breed because it is valuable for human use. Approximately, they are around 2000 in the world today.

Leicester Long-wool Sheep

Dual Purpose Sheep Breeds:

3: Lincoln Sheep:

This sheep breed remains popular worldwide and weights between 260 to 350 pounds. It is popular for its lovely and finest wool and fleece, which is demanded all over the world for weaving and designing.

lincoln sheep

Different Breeds Of Sheep (meat)

4: Dorset Sheep:

It belongs to the category of sheep that produces delicious meat. It is popular among the domestic sheep farming and can be found easily in major states of the US. The sheep has an amazing milk producing and meat giving ability – it even has a faster breeding ability. This is among the most popular white face sheep in the world and has a huge presence all over the globe. Suffolk sheep, however, retains the strongest position in terms of presence over the world. You may also like to see meat rabbit breeds.

Dorset sheep

5: Dorper Sheep

Belonging to arid climatic condition, this sheep breed has the ability to adjust to varying seasonal changes. It is highly popular in western regions. The body has a good combination of hair and wool and they vary from medium to large size. It produces delicious mutton, which sells like hot cakes in the market. The wool is even used by the weavers for producing clothes and other stuff. You may also like to see famous goat breeds.

Dorper sheep

6: Hampshire Sheep:

Known for its excellent and delicious mutton, this breeds of sheep has medium wool,dark faced and hornless breed. They are medium sized, quickly growing breed. This meat sheep breed is a result of cross culture, and that is the reason for its varying skin tone.

Hampshire sheep

7: Suffolk Sheep Breed:

Those who are interested in having the best type of meat sheep breed must go for Suffolk sheep. They contain medium wool with black legs and face. This is among the largest rowing breed, which offers tasty mutton. You may also like to see pet rabbit breeds.

Suffolk sheep

Hair Sheep Breeds:

8:American Black Bellied/Barbados:

American Black Bellied

These Types of sheep breeds are used for hunting, hair and beautiful horns. The meat is lean and lacks muttonly flavored as other wool breeds have that is good for people who dislike strong mutton smell. Some of the hair sheep breeds are obtained by mating the cross-cultural breeds like Jacob sheep, Merino and Rambouillet. Other popular hair breed includes:

  • Painted Desert sheep
  • Black Hawaiians
  • Texas Dallas

More information about this breed.

9: Jacob Sheep Breed:

With impressive horns, dotted monochrome body and face, this hair sheep breed remains popular for its beauty, skin and appeal. They lack the outer coat and have a thinner, fine fleece. They are highly used for hides and wool. You may also like to see giant rabbit breeds.

Jacob sheep

Dairy Sheep Breeds:

10: East Friesian:

This is the most productive and common sheep breed which is known for its quality milk in the world. On average, it produces around 990 to 1,100 pounds per 220 to 240-day. You may also like to see breeds of chickens.

 East Friesian sheep

About Farhan Ahsan

My name is Farhan Ahsan,I am web enthusiast, writer and blogger. I always strive to be passionate about my work. I started my work at the beginning of 2007 by engaging myself with detail reading and exchanging information with others. Since then things and times have changed, but one thing remains the same and that is my passion for helping and educating people, building a successful blog and delivering quality content to the readers. I always love to write about gardening, sustainable life, off grid living and homestead farming.


  1. Your information on some of these sheep seems incorrect! The Barbados Black Bellied Sheep don’t have horns…only the American Black Bellied Sheep have horns (and by the way…they are known for their meat too) and the Jacob sheep have more than two horns…usually having 4! And you don’t say what kind of sheep is at the top of the page? Or am I missing some information?

    • A domestic sheep breed, Jacob sheep are known for their black-and-white spotted wool coats. Adult sheep can have anywhere from two-six horns.(most have 4 horns) This is the site http://www.lpzoo.org/animals/factsheet/jacob-sheep where I got the information about jacob.The sheep in the picture is American Black Bellied Barbados.http://www.boothcreekranch.com/raa_sheep.html

      • I stumbled upon this page so I’m not sure how many people would actually come here but I agree with Jacqueline that there are some inaccuracies. You’re comment that the American Blackbelly has meat that is “not good” is strange. Being a hair sheep their meat is not as intense in mutton flavor (due to the lower levels of lanolin since they are a hair sheep)…this is VERY GOOD to many people. Perhaps you might want to clarify the rationale behind your classification of “not good”.

        • Thanks valerie for pointing out the fact i highly appreciate your contribution to this page. I have added more information about the taste of black berry meat to what i meant.

        • The “hair sheep taste less “muttony”” is not supported by scientific studies.

          “Muttony” flavor is a result of branched chain fatty acids and has absolutely nothing to do with wool or lanolin. I offer this study for you to peruse: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/3063/1/branched_chain_fatty_acids_in_sheep_fat.pdf

          And USDA MARC compared meat quality and flavor across several sheep breeds and this is the ” Interpretive Summary: The present experiment determined that there are significant differences among sheep breeds for growth, carcass composition, meat quality, and tenderness. However, differences among breeds in meat flavor were small. These results document that each breed has relative strengths and weaknesses across traits and that no single breed excels for all growth, carcass, and sensory traits.”


          And the grass-fed advocates make claims that aren’t 100% supported by research:

          I raise different wool breeds of sheep, finish lambs with grain and grass, and regardless of breed find all the lambs to be very mild tasting. I actually prefer eating 4 to 8-year-old ewes because they do have a little bit of flavor.

    • William Henry Arthur Walters`

      This is a fantastically analytically discussion of sheep here. I wish I had some sheep. My favourite breed is the Lincoln Sheep due to its beautiful array of hair. Very similar to my own in fact. I would like to purchase a flock of sheep so if you have any going then please send me an email with their details.

  2. I’m surprised there is no mention of Icelandic sheep. Renowned for their wool they are a truly triple use breed. They are prolific breeders, giving birth to small, agile lambs. They are excellent mothers. Being an ancient breed they belong to the northern short-tailed family of sheep ( no docking of tails)

  3. In the US most of the sheep are raised in the West and most are white faced wool breeds such as Rambouillet, Targhee, Columbia and possibly Polypay (with exceptions, of course.) In the Midwest and East the small farm flocks have greater breed diversity, where it is more likely some of the breeds on your list will be found. Hair sheep have traditionally been raised in the South, but are starting to appear in other areas of the country.