Fine Wool Sheep Breeds
While each of the fine wool sheep breeds listed below can be raised and bred for meat production, these sheep breeds are primarily valued and raised for their fine wool production. These sheep are selected for their ability to grow dense, fine fleece that is ideal for the production of ultra-soft, high-end clothing. While the staple (length) of the fleece produced by these breeds isn't as long as that produced by long wool sheep breeds, the fleece produced by fine wool breeds of sheep may outweigh the longer fleece typical of Romneys or other breeds that produce wool that's best suited for hand-spinning. While fine wool sheep breed ewes tend to be excellent mothers, lambs will gain size and weight much more slowly than other breeds as a significant emphasis is placed upon the quality and consistency of their fleece. As a result much of the energy gained from feed goes toward the production of fine, lustrous wool. These sheep breeds may require more feed to gain weight at a comparable rate to meat breeds.
Most fine wool sheep breeds are docile and easy to handle, making them a good choice for a young child new to 4-H or FFA, but they won't clean up as nicely for the show ring as many other breeds so if you are interested in showing sheep that produce wool a dual purpose breed like a Columbia or Corriedale might be a healthy compromise and make for a more enjoyable show ring experience for your child. If you or your youngster is interested in hand-spinning or knitting with the wool your sheep produce, fine wool breeds are an excellent choice.
In the show ring an emphasis is placed on the consistency of the fleece. Judges will look for uniformity in crimp (waviness) and fiber diameter and preference is given for a lustrous health fleece. Size, muscle tone, conformation and adherence to the breed characteristic defined by that particular fine wool sheep breeder's organization are considered important, but these sheep are valued primarily for wool production and as such their physical characteristics are not emphasized quite as much as they are in other breeds during competition.
Fine Wool Sheep Breed Directory
Popular Breeds of Fine Wool Sheep
Click on any of the pictures below to learn useful information, a brief history and fun facts of some of the most popular fine wool sheep breeds (mouse over each image to see the name of each breed):
Interested in Working With Wool? Read All About it HERE.