The East Friesian sheep breed is native to Germany’s Northern area and to Friesland province in the Netherlands. In 1994, Canada introduced the East Friesian to the United States as purebreds and the breed quickly caught on in local dairy operations.
The East Friesian sheep breed is the highest milk producing breed of sheep and as a result the East Friesian tends to be the breed of choice for every sheep dairy, though some farmers do cross in polled Dorset to produce a slightly larger-framed animal.
What Are Friesian Sheep Like?
The East Friesian tends to be mid to large in size and relatively docile – a desirable trait in any dairy livestock. Their faces are white and open, making the breed easy to manage and Friesian sheep wool is of a decent length and quality considering that the wool is typically an afterthought for those raising Friesian sheep.
Ewes tend to lamb by the time they are a year old and mature ewes are more productive. As in most dairy breeds, the lambs are taken away from the mothers after a few days and raised on a bottle while the ewe is milked in the dairy several times each day.
How Hardy Are Friesian Sheep?
The East Friesian is not a hardy breed and it thrives in specialized conditions.
The breed is not one that does particularly well in large flocks or challenging weather and range conditions, but due to their unparalleled milk production, East Friesian ewes are ideal for cross breeding with sheep breeds which are already well adapted to local conditions.
If you are considering a sheep dairy, this breed will be the foundation of your flock.
East Friesian Sheep Breed Information
|MATURE BODY WEIGHT||Ram: 225-270 lbs.|
Ewe: 160-180 lbs.
|AVERAGE FIBER DIAMETER||Micron: 29-33|
USDA Wool Grade: 46’s-54’s
|GREASE FLEECE WEIGHT||Ewe: 9-12 lbs.|