Most people are familiar with pure white or black sheep breeds. But, do you know there are some adorable brown sheep breeds? That’s right.
Though slightly uncommon, a good number of brown sheep breeds are available. They are raised primarily for wool, meat production, and therapy animals.
Read on if you’re looking for some fantastic brown sheep breeds to add to your flock or want to learn more about them. You’ll be amazed by how unique some of these sheep are and the different characteristics that set them apart.
Let’s look at several famous brown sheep around the world below.
Popular Brown Sheep Breeds
Finnsheep or Finnish Landrace originated from Finland. The original Finnsheep is closely related to a Sardinia and Corsica wild sheep breed called the Mouflon.
It has since been crossbred severally, making the modern Finnsheep have a short tail and a demeanor like most Scandinavian breeds. This breed is decades old but was introduced to other countries recently, reaching Canada in 1966 and the U.S. in 1968.
The Finnsheep has an open face, medium body, delicate and lean carcass, and produces decent amounts of moderate quality wool.
The breed exists primarily in pure white and brown, but other color variations exist and qualify for registration. The ewes are excellent mothers and prolific.
This breed is kept for meat and wool production and breeding. A mature Finnsheep ram can weigh between 150 to 200 pounds, while ewes range from 120 to 190 pounds.
Annually, a mature ewe produces 4 to 8 pounds of high-yield fleece, with a numerical count of 23.5 to 31.0 microns and a staple length of 7.5 to 15 centimeters.
The Romanovs’ popularity goes beyond their origin country of Russia. Since it set foot in North America in the 1900s, the Romanov became the favorite of farmers across the United States and beyond.
But why is the Romanov sheep breed so popular in the U.S.? Well, this sheep breed is hardy with excellent adaptability to most climates.
It grows fast and reaches sexual maturity as early as three months. On top of that, they are known to produce multiple lambs per birth, going as high as sextuplets. Their meat is also loved world-over for its leanness and unique flavors.
The Romanov is kept for meat and wool production. At maturity, a well-fed ram grows to between 175 and 240 pounds, while a ewe attains averages of 135 to 160 pounds.
Annually, a mature ewe produces 6 to 13 pounds of fleece at an impressive yield rate of between 65 and 80% and a staple length of four to five inches. Romanovs are born black but lighten to light gray or brown as the lamb matures.
Swiss Black-Brown Mountain Sheep
From the Alps Mountains, the Swiss Black-Brown Mountain sheep has found its way to gourmet chefs’ kitchens with their flavorful meat.
When mature, the ewes weigh an average of 200 pounds while the rams get to about 240 pounds.
On top of the meat, this multipurpose breed produces medium single-color, thick and closely-cropped wool.
As the name suggests, this breed has a black or brown coat, but the shades may vary from light to very dark. These variations emanate from the long ancestry and years of selective crossbreeding.
Apart from the color adaptation for the mountains, this breed is as hardy as they can get, with a unique ability to survive harsh conditions.
Even so, the sheep are docile, low maintenance, easy to handle, and birth twice a year with an average of 1.7 lambs per birth.
The Soay sheep are among the oldest breeds believed to have descended directly from the first sheep to be domesticated by man.
It’s a primitive sheep native to Soay Island, off Scotland’s coast. According to history, the Soay sheep existed before the Norsemen and Romans came to the British Isles.
They’re among the hardest breeds that can thrive in the most challenging conditions and have a relatively fast maturity rate.
The Soay is a small and short breed. A mature ram will range from 80 to 100 pounds, while the ewes weigh 60 to 80 pounds. Even so, their short and fine wool is highly popular among yarn spinners and comes in either brown, white, or black colors.
All the rams are horned, but ewes are either polled or horned. They are docile and highly resistant to parasites and diseases. Soay will make a perfect addition to your flock if you’re after a low-maintenance sheep.
And the good thing is the animals are easy to handle and great for both novice and veteran sheep farmers.
The Hebridean sheep are native to Scotland and are among the few survivors of the sheep kept in the Iron Age in Britain.
It has retained its original small body, short tail, and color variations. Most of them are born brown, gray, or black.
With time, the colors fade to a different color, like black turns brown, and most Hebridean end up gray in old age.
This breed has a clear face and legs. The animals could be polled or horned, and the horned typically grow more than one pair. The double horns and black faces make the Hebridean look scary and weird, worsened by their short frames.
A full-grown female weighs about 88 pounds, while the rams weigh around 100 to 130 pounds. The wool is coarse, water resistant, and grows fast.
If not shorn, the animal naturally sheds the coat at the onset of warmer seasons. These hardy animals are kept for meat and wool and to control vegetation.
Herdwick sheep are possibly the friendliest and most straightforward to herd among all brown sheep breeds listed here.
Besides being docile, the sheep are intelligent with a remarkable homing instinct, enabling them to trace their way home easily. Due to this, they are one of the few sheep breeds used as therapy animals.
It can survive harsh conditions and needs little care to thrive. Due to these abilities, most farmers in Herdwick’s native area of Lake District let them graze in open fields.
It’s alleged that the Herdwick sheep came with the Vikings to England between the 10th and 11th centuries, as their name is closely related to the Nordic name “herdvyck”.
They are born black, lightens to brown as they mature, and turn to gray after several rounds of shearing.
Also, the black wool on the head molts after a year and leaves a coat of white hair.
Though Herdwicks are self-reliant animals, they mature slowly, primarily due to their adaptation to cold climates and surviving on small feeds.
However, they have some of the tastiest lamb and mutton among sheep meat. They are also bred to other sheep breeds to better their adaptability and meat quality.
At maturity, the ewe can average between 77 to 100 pounds and the rams around 145 to 165 pounds. In addition, a mature sheep can yield between 1.5 to 2 kilograms of fleece annually, with a staple length range of 15 to 20 centimeters.
READ ALSO: 7 Black Sheep Breeds With White Face
This breed acquired its name in 1848 and can be traced to Shropshire and Stafford counties in central west England. Some experts say it’s a cross of the native breeds around its area of origin.
However, others believe it developed through selective breeding of Leicesters, Southdowns, and Cotswolds with the Longmynd breed.
Despite the unclear development story, the popularity of the Shropshire as a large, fast-growing, meaty, and wooly breed is well developed globally.
The docile temperament and easy-to-handle nature of the Shropshire make it a favorite for both novice and veteran breeders. It adapts well to most climates and has an excellent forage to meat conversion.
Their gentle nature makes these excellent sheep a great pet and perfect for children club projects. At maturity, the rams can weigh between 225 to 250 pounds, while the ewes average 150 to 180 pounds.
You also get 6 to 10 pounds of medium-quality wool annually from one mature ewe. The Shropshire is used for milk, meat, and wool production.
Are There Brown Sheep With White Faces?
Yes, there are brown sheep with white faces. Typically, the white face can occur in any sheep breed as long as the parents have and pass the gene to the lambs.
Genetically speaking, parents with the white color gene will sire half of their lambs with white faces and the other half without.
Some popular brown sheep breeds with white faces include the Herdwick, Romanov, Soay, and Finnsheep breeds.
Brown sheep breeds are raised for different uses, including meat, wool, and milk production, as well as pets. While some species are multipurpose, some do well for a specific use.
Depending on your use for the breeds you intend to keep, ensure the animals are suited to your location and that you can take care of them.
Luckily, most brown sheep breeds are perfect for your flock as they’re hardy and adapt well to most climates. They are also low-maintenance animals that even novices can handle without breaking a sweat.