Meat Sheep Breeds, List, and Advantages

Introduction to meat sheep breeds: Sheep are mainly raised for their meat and wool. Meat, milk, wool, skins, and fertilizers for sheep become an important part of the rural economy with their multifaceted utility, especially in the arid, semi-arid, and mountainous areas of the country. The contribution of sheep through meat exports is 8% of the total export value of agricultural and processed food products.

Each breed has characteristics that make it an ideal choice for specific shepherds. Some are large and meaty, while others produce particularly delicious meat. While some meat does not lose flavor with age, others grow faster, saving you time and money. The ideal breed for you will depend on the goals you set for your home or farm. Farmers generally prefer to keep exotic breeds for cross-breeding. The best way is to raise purebred sheep and crossbred ewes to start new farms. Crossbred lambs produce faster compared to purebred sheep. This is why shepherds select to keep purebred sheep separately for breeding purposes. Sheep do not need expensive housing and are raised in simple shelters with minimal ventilation. Sheep rearing can be made more profitable through the management of modern technologies, scientific breeding, feeding, and culling, and disease management. Meat-purpose breeds are fast-growing breeds and gaining more body weight in a short time.

Raising sheep for meat
Raising sheep for meat (Image credit: pixabay)

Sheep are one of the most versatile livestock you can find when it comes to the number of different products they are capable of producing. It is more popular as an important dish in other parts of the world. You want to be more self-sufficient or make money by selling meat at local restaurants. Sheep are the meat of young sheep. It must be distinguished from mutton which is from adult animals.

What is the difference between lamb and mutton? The truth is that both lamb and mutton are meat derived from sheep. Lamb is ‘meat from a young sheep’ or ‘young sheep’, while mutton is ‘meat from a fully grown sheep’.

A guide to Meat Sheep Breeds, Best Meat Sheep List, and Advantages

Meat Sheep Breeds
Meat Sheep Breeds (Image credit: pixabay)

Sheep meat is an important commodity globally. Consumption of sheep meat varies from country to country and changes over time. Most of the world’s meat is consumed in the country of origin, and only a small proportion of it is traded on international markets.

Nutrition of sheep meat

  • The importance of romaine and its microbes in digesting feed ingredients
  • Key end-products of digestion of nutrients in rumen
  • Metabolisable energy available for sheep tissues and basic sources of amino acids
  • That affects protein quality (amino acid composition) and protein requirements for growth and milk production in sheep.
  • Factors affecting the care/production energy needs of younger and older Sheep
  • Nutritional importance for ewes during pre-mating and pregnancy and lactation
  • Nutritional needs of pasture and feedlot lamb.

Benefits of raising sheep

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Benefits of Sheep Farming
Sheep Farming (Image credit: pixabay)

Adopted good environment and poor management practices;

  • Generally, the meat rate is increasing day by day
  • Suitable for sheep wool and meat
  • An average of 1-2 babies per sheep per delivery
  • 22-30 kg / average meat recovery

Facts about these popular meat sheep breeds are;

  • Cheviot
  • Dorset
  • Hampshire
  • Montadale
  • North County Cheviot
  • Oxford
  • Shropshire
  • Southdown
  • Suffolk
  • Texel
  • Blue Texel
  • Tunis

Best sheep breeds for meat are;

Suffolk: Suffolk is a popular breed for meat. These sheep are calm, docile, and different in appearance from other sheep. They have a black face, ears, and legs that are all made of wool. Suffolk has an excellent feed conversion feature and is one of the fastest-growing rates of any breed of sheep. Its meat has a good texture, taste, distinctive flavor, and is low in fat. Ewes give birth to three lambs a year and the lambs grow rapidly. Suffolk can be used with other breeds as a terminal breed to produce heavier lambs for marketing at about three months of age or normal weight of 100 pounds. Because you can market lamb at a young age, there is a less medical expenditure, less feeding, and less work.

The ruthless sheep breed has been around for some time and is a large, sturdy breed with a long body, and legs. They have an excellent quality of meat that is ready for the early maturation of the lamb and is ready in the market in 9 to 12 weeks. The average weight of lambs is 15 kg at 42 days of age and about 53 kg at 100 days of age. Meat has a wonderful flavor with the highest proportion of fat in lean meat. Make the meat lean and it has fine grains and good color.

Southdown sheep: The Southdown sheep is a sheep that comes from the UK and is a medium-sized sheep breed that has a long compact body to the length of their medium length legs. They are one of the oldest breeds of sheep “down” in the UK and are valuable for their meat but also produce a good quality and quantity of wool. Sheep are dress out well and produce high quality with a perfect carcass. Their meat is tasty, full of color, succulent, and tender.

It has an ideal body for the production of meat. Its wool is close and the best of British breeds. But, although white and of good quality, the wool is small and the wool is relatively light in weight. The colour of its face and legs is brown to light brown or gray color.

Mecheri: Mecheri sheep breed is medium-sized animals with a compact body. They are light brown. The head is a medium to medium-length broadhead that runs well. This is distributed in the Karur, Namakkal, Salem, Erode, and some parts of the Dharampuri districts of Tamil Nadu. This is a breed for meat. It has a medium-sized body that is pale purple. The tail is short and thin. The average body weight of an adult male is 36 kg. The average body weight of an adult female is 22 kg.

Cheviot: The Cheviot breed belonging to the Cheviot Hills between Scotland and England. These sheep are very tough and can withstand harsh winters. They have a small head covered with white hair that also covers their legs. Fleece is dense and strong without wool on the face or legs. These sheep top the list for two reasons and are ideal for farming. Although short, lambs are tough and have good quality meat. Cheviots perform well on poor-quality pastures and may require little or no supplementation.

They are known for their smooth white hair, white faces, and legs. They are found in Scotland but are found in most parts of the United Kingdom and Ireland.

The legs of the Cheviot sheep are medium-long in size, have good bones, strong pasterns. Their wool is pure white, tall, and strong with good length. The Cheviot is large, wide, and tall. The head and legs are white with short hair. It is ideal for cross-breeding through both the dam and sire, transmitting their maternal strength and desired bodies to any offspring. Cheviot sheep breed is usually the lamb or sheep meat choice of most mothers. Meat is high in meat and low in fat, which helps in weight loss. The lamb matures rapidly and has a plump meaty carcass with delicately trimmed flesh that tastes great. The lamb weighs about 20 kg between the ages of 90 and 120 days.

Charollais: Charollais is one of the latest breeds of domestic sheep. They are commonly used as a terminal sire to increase the muscle and growth rate of the lamb.

These are some of the best meat breeds in the world. Sheep usually reach maturity at the age of 7-8 months. They are usually white with a pinkish-brown head. Their heads are usually made of wool, but they may be covered with yellow hair. The body of Charollais sheep is long, wedge-shaped, and well-muscled. They are also lean animals, good for large quantities of meat.

Katahdin sheep: Katahdin sheep are a popular breed of meat for sheep farmers. The Katahdin ewes weigh about 125-185 pounds, and the rams weigh an average of 200 pounds. They grow rapidly and reach market weight. Katahdin often grows out of season. Katahdin tends to give birth to twins, often triple and quadruple, with good flock management. Katahdin is a smart, protective mother. They reach maturity early and will be fertile longer than many other breeds. The meat of Katahdin is leaner than that of many other breeds. Katahdins have hair, not wool, which means they are a less caring breed that will naturally shed their hair. Because of their hair, unlike Dorper, they do not produce lanolin, which will add flavor to their meat. This breed is acceptable and can live in many different climates.

Keezhakaraisal: Keezhakaraisal sheep are found every year in black and red coat colors. Black bands are found on sheepskin in the head, stomach, and leg areas. It is divided into Ramanathapuram, Sivagangai, and Thirunelveli districts of Tamil Nadu. This is a breed of meat. It has a medium-sized body. The tail is short and slender. The average body weight of an adult male is 29 kg. The average body weight of an adult female is 22 kg.

Icelandic Sheep: Icelandic sheep breed was first brought to Iceland by Viking settlers 9,000 years ago. Today it is known as one of the purest breeds in the world because it is not made with other imported breeds of sheep. Icelandic sheep mutton is praised around the world for its organic purity and mild flavor. This is another low-maintenance breed of sheep that can make a lot of money. Sheep also perform well on poor pasture or range. Icelandic sheep mutton is tender and well textured. Sheep reach the weight of marketing in four to five months.

Texel Sheep: The bodybuilder of the sheep world, Texel sheep is known for its heavy and strong frame. Ewes will weigh an average of 190 pounds, and rams will weigh up to 300 pounds. Like most sheep listed here, Texel lambs quickly reach market size in 5-6 months. With a breeding season of about 5 months, Texel sheep are breeding grounds. Eggs usually reach maturity in 7 months. Texel sheep work best in cold weather, as they are unusually cold and considered sensitive to heat. They produce wool and will need regular harvesting. Due to its heavy muscular body, Texel is a very popular breed of meat breed.

Texel is very famous for its high-quality meat. They have a dress-out percentage with a meat-to-bone ratio. Meat is in demand by butchers and consumers as the meat is lean and does not leave the taste of fat in the mouth. Lamb can weigh up to 44 kg at 24 weeks of age.

Montadale: Montadale ewes are known for their strong maternal instincts and have produced plenty of milk to raise sheep. Montadale lambs grow rapidly – a feature of this large breed, inherited from their Colombian ancestors, and Montadales are known for their slender, well-muscled carcasses.

Tunis Barbari: Tunis Barbari is believed to have been born in Tunisia about 3,000 years ago. It is one of the fat-tailed sheep that regular lamb eaters love. Tunis is the best foragers and grazers. They usually do not require an additional supplement and are quite profitable. Although Tunis is a dual-purpose breed, they are now being raised for meat production. Sheep can thrive in harsh and hot and dry climates.

Welsh Mountain Sheep: The Welsh Mountain is a small and very hardy breed that originated in South Wales. Ewes are required for easy lambing, high fertility, and good milk production. These sheep have a long life. They are active and difficult to keep on the fence. Sheep produce significant amounts of meat and fiber. Welsh meat is tasty and has a higher meat-to-bone ratio. These sheep are known for their thin, soft, black fiber.

Hampshire down: Hampshire lambs grow rapidly, and at maturity, the Hampshire breed is a lean carcass with heavy bones. Hampshire is easy to distinguish from their black legs and faces. Hampshire has some wool on its head and legs, and this breed should show solid wool. This grows rapidly and is a common choice as a terminal saw in crossbreeding programs due to their large, slender bodies and rapid growth.

Madras Red Sheep: This is found in different parts of Tamil Nadu. This breed is reared primarily for meat purposes. The average body weight of male and female sheep is 34-36 kg and 24-26 kg respectively. This is a local sheep breed from the northeastern part of Tamil Nadu.

This sheep breed is a popular hairy mutton breed. It is a popular breed of sheep found in the southern peninsular of India. Animals of this breed are medium and well-bred and have certain characteristics such as early maturation, rapid growth, good maternal abilities, low-fat meat, and relatively better resistance to diseases. They are medium-sized animals that are mainly brown, ranging in intensity from light tan to dark brown. Some animals have white color markings on the forehead. The ears are medium long and bent and the tail is short and thin. The body is covered with short hair that is not shorn. Under farming conditions, lambing is 93% and litter size is single. The crib is pure and the choice is based primarily on body size. Being a native of Madras Red, it adapts to the current climatic conditions and has no problem with survival.

Border Leicester Sheep: This is a breed that was originated in Britain. Their bodies are full of wool, good meat in proportion to the bones, even the temperamental nature that makes them easy to handle. They like to graze and forage which makes them easy to care for. They are looking for fast-maturing lamb and premium quality, delicious meat products. Lamb can reach 49 kg at 4.5 months of age and make them ideal for producing premium quality lambs.

Rambouillet: Rambouillet sheep are very strong and hardy animals. They are suitable for almost all climates. They have great meat with a good meat-to-bone ratio. The Rambouillet sheep are a breed of sheep from France. This breed is known for its excellent wool, which can be used to make high-quality yarns and fabrics. Sheep of this breed is of average size, usually tipping the scales of about 250-300 lbs, weighing 150-200 lbs.

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Icelandic sheep: Icelandic sheep are another popular choice for meat, with an average weight of 150 pounds, and sheep an average of 200 pounds. Vigorous growers produce Icelandic lambs that are ready to market for 70-100 in 4 to 5 months. Icelandic sheep are excellent and reliable breeders, breeding in autumn and winter. They reach maturity very quickly, with ewes being bred between the ages of 7 and 9 months. As a native of Iceland, this breed is unusually cold and is an excellent and efficient forager – enabling it to thrive in harsh environments and find food. Due to the high amount of red muscle fibers, Icelandic sheep have a unique tender and delicate texture. Although the breed produces wool, it is especially known for its mild flavor. Because of the wool, Icelandic sheep need to be sheared once or twice a year.

Dorper sheep: Dorper is a highly resilient South African breed of sheep. They are used for lamb and mutton. Their lambs have a high growth rate and reach 36 kg in 3 to 4 months. They have a premium quality of meat with a good meat-to-bone ratio and a low percentage of loss. This has gained popularity for their meat production, with eggs weighing 170 to 250 pounds, and rams up to 250 pounds. Dorpers are known to mature quickly, most lambs are considered ready for market at 4 months of age. A unique feature of Dorper is that they do not grow seasonally; instead, they can breed all year round. This means that, theoretically, a Dorper Eve could produce a lamb (or 2 or 3) every 8 months.

Dorper sheep perform well in hot, dry climates, but can also tolerate cold. Dorper grows a combination of hair and wool, and flows naturally – this means no shearing is required.

Romney sheep: The Romney sheep commonly called Kent by local farmers is a breed of sheep bred in England. Throughout the history of the dual-purpose Romney, both meat and wool have been valued. Large, well-trained sheep effectively produce high-quality, lean cuts on pasture, while mature sheep produce 8 to 12 pounds of fine wool each year. Their meat is unusually light in taste, and this quality is passed on to cross-bred offspring.

Shetland Sheep: The Shetland Sheep comes from the Shetland Islands in Scotland. They are a very hardy breed of sheep that has developed the ability to survive in harsh conditions. They offer excellent quality, highly adaptable, prolific, and soft succulent meat, and colorful wool. The Shetland Sheep Breed has historically been known for producing delicious mutton of high quality and excellent taste. Their flesh is of good texture and much thinner than other breeds because the sheep store their fat not only around their muscles but also around their limbs. It is only one year old, weighs about 12 to 17 kg, and has a delicate flavor that can be used for quick preparation as it does not require much flavor or spices.

Vembur: This is a breed of meat. These are taller breeds. The tail is short and slender. Adult males are found with horns and females have no horns. The average body weight of adult males is 35 kg. The average body weight of adult females is 28 kg.

Tellicherry: The Tellicherry breed is also called the Malabari breed. It is mostly grown for meat purposes. Commonly seen in white, purple, and black in colors. An adult female weighs 30 to 40 kg, while an adult male weighs between 40 and 50 kg. They can get from one to two kg of milk daily. This type of breed has better reproductive capabilities. They can give birth to two to three kids in parturition.



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