Racka Sheep Breed

Racka Sheep Breed (Breed Info, Characteristics, Origin, & Uses!)

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If you’re thinking about raising sheep, you’ll likely find yourself with many important decisions to make. One of them is the type of sheep to raise on your farm. If you’re new to sheep farming, the Racka Sheep breed can be an excellent choice. 

Racka is a hardy, multipurpose breed used for meat, wool, and milk production. They are easy to obtain, raise, breed, and keep healthy.

Does the Racka sound like a breed you’d like to raise on your farm? 

Let’s walk you through everything you need to know to start farming this unique breed, including its origin, characteristics, uses, and other important breed information. Read on.

Racka Sheep Origin

The Racka breed originates from Hungary. It also goes by Hortobágy Racka, Ratca (Romanian), or Hungarian Zackel.

The Hungarian breed has been around since at least the 1800s, when the 1st registry was established.

It may be native to Hungary, but the Racka breed is now spread all over the world. They are highly resistant to extremely high and low temperatures.

That’s why farmers from all corners of the world find the Racka a desirable breed to raise. 

Racka Sheep Characteristics

The Racka breed has many characteristics that make it ideal for sheep farming. More importantly, they are strong and hardy multipurpose animals.

You can raise Racka sheep for meat, wool, or milk production. 

Physical Attributes

The Racka is a small to medium-sized sheep with a unique appearance. Their wool is long and coarse and appears in two major color patterns.

The first one is a cream with light brown hair covering on face and legs, and then you have the less common black variation. 

They are relatively small sheep with long bodies and a fine bone structure. Ewes weigh around 88 lb, and the rams come in at 132 lb.

Both rams and ewes have long spiral horns — protruding virtually straight upward from the top of the head.

In mature rams, the corkscrew horns can grow up to two feet long or more. The tail is long and woolly, permanently extending beyond the hock.

The proud, upstanding handlebar horns are the breed’s standout feature. 


Despite the sharp, intimidating corkscrew horns in the shape of a V, the Racka breed is known for having a quiet disposition.

They are a bit shy in human presence but full of liveliness and vitality when left to their own devices in nature. 

The breed displays an intensely developed flocking instinct. These sheep like to stick together, following the actions of the leader of the group.

They’ll often graze closely together as if tied shoulder to shoulder. 


Sheep farmers all over the globe describe the Racka as a hardy breed.

The Racka is a highly resistant breed that can produce reasonably under harsh climatic conditions where other sheep can barely survive. 

The breed sports a thick double coat to protect the body from the extremities of the weather. These animals can comfortably live on dry hay.

As a result, this unique domestic sheep breed is often used in crossbreeding owing to its ability to pass this survivability to its offspring. 

What is the Racka Sheep Used FOR?

The Racka are a multipurpose breed. If you raise this breed, you’ll have a great many options when it comes to making money off your flock.

They can serve many purposes, from milk production to meat and wool.

Meat Production

Meat production is also a significant profit source for sheep farmers.

The Racka breed possesses many characteristics that make them great producers of prime lamb.

Their bodies are naturally lean hence a great source of animal protein. 

Racka ewes give birth once a year since their oestrus is seasonal, from mid-July until mid-January.

Known for their high fertility, the ewes are fertilized with high success.

The breed also has a high twin-birth rate, averaging between five and 40% depending on the habitat.

Racka lambs grow fast and mature early, making this breed ideal if you are looking to raise sheep for meat production.

Their meat is tender, delicately flavored, and fetches a reasonable price in the market. They are also low maintenance and can live on dry hay. 

Wool Production

The Racka breed is known for producing a high quantity of high-quality wool with little maintenance demands.

Their wool can be used to make a wide range of products, including traditional coats, carpets, and blankets. 

The average Racka ram produces 3 to 4 Kg of wool, while the average Racka ewe can produce about 2–3 Kg.

Their wool is rough and available in two colors: cream or light brownish and black with a varying weight ratio of the fibers and flakes. 

Racka wool is very popular among manufacturers. The wool of the black Racka variety is mainly used to produce collars, linings, and caps.

The wool of the light-colored variety has a much better quality for making textiles, blankets, and rugs. 

When it comes to the quality of the wool from the Racka breed, there are a lot of differences between and within flocks.

Today, Racka wool is usually produced at slaughtering at 8 to 10 months of age, after weaning and a period of grazing. 

Milk Production

There is growing demand for a range of dairy alternatives, including milk and cheese.

Sheep milk is quickly emerging as a popular choice in many parts of the world. It has more protein, fat, vitamins, and minerals per glass than cow milk. 

As a result, many farmers are turning to sheep farming in order to cash in. And one of the best breeds for milk production is the Racka Sheep.

Racka ewes produce a lot of milk, almost as much as the breeds specifically bred for this purpose. 

This breed can produce approximately 40 liters of milk per lactation, which is impressive given that the Racka has never been selected for this trait.

The breed’s milk production can increase if raised specifically for this purpose. 

For instance, farmers can get up to 60 liters of milk from this breed by separating the lambs from the ewes early.

On top of the high milk yield, the breed’s long lactating period improves the quality of milk and milk products. 

READ ALSO: What Does Sheep Milk Taste Like? Is It A Healthier Alternative?

Other Uses

The Racka breed’s long, spiral horns have their uses as well.

These unusual appendages can be made into hair combs, knife handles, powder horns, and horse bits.

Racka can also be raised as “trophy” animals, especially the rams, due to their beautiful horns.

Racka Sheep Advantages

There are many sheep breeds out there, each presenting a unique set of advantages and disadvantages for farmers.

Racka are no different. Here are some of the many benefits of raising this particular sheep breed. 

  • Low maintenance. Due to their minimum labor demands, the Racka breed is easy to care for and one of the easiest sheep breeds to raise. They can live on grass and plants found in most places hence cheaper to raise. 
  • Extremely resistant. These sheep are easy to keep healthy. They are highly resistant to internal parasites and a variety of health problems that affect other sheep breeds. However, routine care is necessary. 
  • Hardy. Racka is generally described as a hardy breed. These animals are able to adapt to many numerous climatic conditions and are a great option in areas with extreme seasonal weather changes. They are adept at finding food where there’s not plenty. 
  • Multipurpose. When it comes to uses, the Racka breed is a triple threat. The breed’s milk can be processed into cheese, yogurt, or other dairy products. It can also be raised for prime lamb production. Racka wool is highly sought after in the clothing and textiles industry. 
  • Friendly. Racka are friendly animals, not just to humans but to other animals. They are easily domesticated and can coexist with other farm animals. They are also very sweet and loving with one another. 
  • Unique appearance. The Racka have a unique appearance that most people find appealing. They are often kept as trophy animals due to their unusual spiral horns. 

READ ALSO: 10 Ways To Treat Heat Stress In Sheep (With Examples)

Racka Sheep disadvantages

Despite the long list of advantages farmers gain by choosing to raise the Racka breed of sheep, it’s not smooth sailing all through.

Raising this breed presents certain setbacks. Here are the potential drawbacks of the Racka breed. 

  • Shearing. The Racka breed will require some shearing due to their long coarse wool, which is not great for a beginner. It often requires the sheep to be handled multiple times, which is stressful for the animal. 
  • Singleton births. The Racka tend to give birth to one lamb at a time, which is not ideal if you want to grow your flock quickly. But if you want a better chance at twin births, raise the black variety. The black ewes tend to give birth to twin lambs more often than the white ones. 
  • Seasonal breeders. Racka are seasonal breeders, meaning that they successfully mate only during certain times of the year and give birth once a year. Though this breed is known for having high fertility rates, the fact that they are seasonally limited significantly limits the flock population. 

Do Racka Sheep Have Any Health Problems? 

Compared to other breeds, Racka are relatively resistant to many illnesses and parasites that affect sheep.

But that’s not to say they are entirely immune, not by a long shot. Racka are susceptible to a wide range of health problems, including: 

  • Toxyuris. One of the most common sources of health problems for the Racka breed is a parasite known as Toxyuris. This parasite causes itchiness in the sheep’s rear and hind legs, which can be extremely distressing for the animal. 
  • Various cancers. Animals, including sheep, also suffer from cancers. Racka can suffer cancer in various parts of the body, including skin, lungs, and mouth. Both male and female Racka of all varieties are susceptible to these conditions. 
  • Dental problems. Dental diseases are pretty common within the Racka breed. Dental issues may cause tooth pain and impede the animal’s ability to graze and forage. Tooth pain can also cause depression and anxiety in sheep. 
  • Encephalitis. The Racka breed also suffers from a condition known as Encephalitis. This condition causes inflammation of the brain, which may cause the brain to swell. Encephalitis can lead to headaches, stiff neck, and seizures.
  • Lung disease. Racka can also develop lung disease. A lung problem can cause progressive respiratory distress, chronic weight loss, and death for the animal if not addressed in time. 

READ ALSO: When Is The Best Time To Shear Sheep In Australia?

Is Racka Sheep Right for You?

Some aspects of raising sheep are constant, such as food, water, and shelter. As a sheep farmer, you must be able to provide these things regardless of the breed. 

But there are other things you need to consider that depend on the breed, and that’s how you determine if a particular sheep breed is the right fit.

These include care demands, hardiness, uses, prolificacy, and maternal ability, among others. 

The Racka breed are relatively low maintenance and easy to care for, save for the occasional shearing. They are a hardy breed that can adapt to a wide range of environments. In terms of food, they can live on dry hay.

Unlike polyoestrous breeds such as the Dorper Sheep, Racka are seasonal breeders.

That said, Racka ewes are very fertile, and there’s usually a high percentage of pregnancies after a mating period. They are also very caring for their young. 

And if you raise Racka sheep, you can use them for a range of purposes, including milk, meat, and wool. Depending on your sheep farming goals, the Racka could easily be the right breed for you. 


If you are looking to invest in a sheep farm, the first thing you need to do is choose the type of sheep you want to raise.

Racka is a great choice for anyone who has never raised sheep and wants to start a small flock.

Known for their unusual spiral-shaped horns, Racka Sheep are low-maintenance, easy to raise, and have excellent flock quality.

This multipurpose breed can be used for milking, wool, and meat production.


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