Most people are only familiar with solid white sheep breeds. However, you can get a sheep breed of the color and size that fits your personal preference. But why would you want to raise a sheep with a black face? And will they be different from sheep with other colors?
Apart from their appealing aesthetics, sheep with black faces are as productive as other colored sheep.
Genetically speaking, they are improvements from other breeds and tend to adapt better to most climates, grow faster, and produce more meat and wool. Besides, they make adorable pets and add uniqueness to solid color flocks.
This article is all you need if you’re interested in black faced sheep breeds.
Black-Faced Sheep Breeds
Whether looking for a wool-type sheep, a meat-type sheep, a pet sheep, a new breeding stock, or just a couple of grass trimmers, there is a black-faced sheep that will work for you.
Summary Traits of Common Black-faced Sheep Breeds
|Breed Name||Area of origin||Mature Height||Mature weight||Use|
|Romanov||Russia||Rams: 117 cm
Ewes: 91 cm
|Rams: 121-194 pounds
Ewes: 88-110 pounds
|Zwartbles||Netherlands||Rams: up to 85 cm
Ewes: up to 75 cm
|Rams: up to 220 pounds
Ewes: up to 187 pounds
|Meat, wool, milk|
|Clun Forest||England||Rams: up to 130 cm
Ewes: up to 115 cm
|Rams: 175-200 pounds
Ewes: 130-160 pounds
|Meat, wool, milk|
|Scottish Blackface||Border of Scotland and England||Rams: up to 130 cm
Ewes: up to 117 cm
|Rams: 150-180 pounds
Ewes: 110-160 pounds
|Valais Blacknose||Switzerland||Rams: 76-82 cm
Ewes: 70-76 cm
|Rams: 175-275 pounds
Ewes: 150-200 pounds
|Black Welsh Mountain||South Wales||Rams: 51-76 cm
Ewes: 51-76 cm
|Rams: 130-145 pounds
Ewes: Up to 100 pounds
|Meat, milk, black wool (cuchddu)|
|Suffolk||England||Rams: 80 cm
Ewes: 74 cm
|Rams: up to 275 pounds
Ewes: 194 pounds
|Meat, wool, milk|
|Hampshire||England||Rams: up to 130 cm
Ewes: up to 117 cm
|Rams: 275 pounds
Ewes: 200 pounds
|Shropshire||England||Rams: up to 130 cm
Ewes: up to 117 cm
|Rams: 225-250 pounds
Ewes: 150-180 pounds
|Karakul||Central Asia||Rams: 75-80 cm
Ewes: 65-70 cm
|Rams: 143-183 pounds
Ewes: 99-132 pounds
|Meat, pelt, wool, milk|
|Dorper||South Africa||Rams: up to 130 cm
Ewes: up to 110 cm
|Rams: up to 230 pounds
Ewes: up to 210 pounds
What Are Sheep With Black Faces Called?
Sheep with black faces don’t have a common name, but each bears the name of its breed. It’s important to note that a black head in sheep is a genetic trait and can occur in any breed as long as the parents have the gene.
The high probability of occurrence makes black-faced sheep more common and well spread globally.
Since most are crosses of other breeds, they tend to have superior traits to their parents. They produce more and better wool and meat, grow faster, and have better adaptability to most climates.
Most of these sheep breeds are multi-purpose and are raised for various uses like milk, meat, and wool production. In addition, they do well as companion pets and for display in agricultural shows and trade fairs.
11 Popular black faced sheep breeds
The Romanov sheep breed originated in Russia and got its name from a town in the upper Volga region. Unlike other black-headed sheep, this sheep breed is a pure gene and is born solid black.
As the lambs grow, the color of the body lightens to grayish black. Though mostly kept for their meat and wool, the Romanov are known to mature very fast and have very high birth rates.
If you intend to get some Romanov sheep, you should know they sexually mature from around three months and produce three or more lambs at a time.
All Zwartbles sheep are polled, but not all have black faces. Their face colors will range from black and gray to dark brown with a white stripe down the middle of the face.
In fact, their name comes from the two colors on their face; Zwart=black and Bles=blaze or white line. Besides their cute faces, Zwartbles have excellent mothering abilities, are docile, and are easy to lamb.
They originated in the Netherlands but can also be found in England and Ireland. Zwartbles are kept for meat, wool, and milk.
From a distance, the Clun Forest sheep are not only captivating with their beautiful black face and bold eyes but look very lively for their size.
It gets traction from commercial and hobby farmers for its hardy disposition, self-reliance, and high fertility. Clun Forest sheep are known to fend for themselves since their origin in the Shropshire region of England and adapt well wherever they go.
They’re good foragers that grow to weights of 200 pounds for rams and 160 pounds for ewes. On top of meat production, the Clun Forest sheep produce quality wool and high butterfat milk.
You can’t tell from the go that the Scottish Blackface sheep ranks among the hardiest breeds with their attractive looks.
It is alleged to have originated along the borders of Scotland and England. However, these sheep’s adaptability, survivability, fast growth, and versatility are on another level.
They’ll do well in all climates and survive areas of low forage where other breeds won’t. They come in three types; Lanark, Perth, and Northumberland, all horned with long fleece, total or partially black faces, and smarter than other breeds. Scottish Blackface is mainly bred for meat and wool.
What breed of sheep has black face? The Valais Blacknose it is. And if you love all things beautiful, you’ll instantly fall for the Valais Blacknose, also known as Walliser Schwarznase in Germany. Both males and females are horned with a cute white fluffy patch between the horns.
The patch looks like the sheep is wearing one of those fluffy old college freshman beanies. The white color on the head then extends down the face to meet the black ears, eyes, and nose. The legs are also black on the knees and ankles.
But beauty is not the only thing that makes the Valais lovable. This old breed from Switzerland is very hardy and an excellent forager.
They have survived their homeland’s rough, harsh climates and rocky regions for years before their slow spread to the U.K. and the U.S. between 2014 and 2016. Apart from being an expensive pet, the Valais are bred for their meat and wool.
Black Welsh Mountain
The Black Welsh Mountain sheep originated from the high mountains of South Wales. Most still reside on the hills of Wales but can be found in the U.S.
These sheep are distinctively black from face to ankles, with excellent motherly abilities, and very easy to keep.
Farmers love these black beauties for their high fertility, improved milk production, and prolific, undemanding, and self-reliant nature. They even have a song named “Black Welsh Sheep,” released in 2012 as a dedication to them by State Radio. The Black Welsh are bred for milk, lovely wool called “cuchddu,” and their tasty meat.
Developed in England, the Suffolk is among the most popular sheep with black faces. They’re famous for their vast sizes, stamina, alertness, and meat and wool quality. The Suffolk sheep is very popular worldwide, especially in the USA.
They have a black face, white body, and black legs. Even so, they’re born black and gain the white body color as they grow. All Suffolks are muscular, robust, highly adaptive, fast-growing, and surprisingly energetic and productive.
They are often bred for meat and milk, but their medium-quality wool also fetches something in the market.
Shropshire’s origin is unclear, but it has sustained popularity in the United States since the 1930s. The sheep is alleged to have originated from England as a crossbreed of the traditional Shropshire and Staffordshire breeds.
Since its recognition in 1859, the new Shropshire spread globally, starting with Australia, the U.S., and New Zealand.
The breed has sustained popularity due to its high adaptability to most climates, high-quality meat and wool, hardiness, strength, and good motherly abilities.
Besides, they’re gentle, prolific, and live for long. They are bred mainly for meat, but their wool is also marketable.
The Hampshire sheep is a crossbreed of the traditional Hampshire and Southdown breeds. It acquired a black face with a white cap and a large blocky-shaped body with excellent meat and wool production.
Since the Hampshire was developed in 1829 in England, it has retained the title of “the oxen of the sheep world” from its large and extended white body.
Due to their excellent forage conversion to meat, fast growth, adaptability, and high production, the breed has become popular globally and in many areas of the United States. These sheep are bred to produce meat and wool for the market.
Karakul sheep ranks among the hardest and most adaptive sheep breeds. By origin and physique, these sheep are made for the desert and are valuable to desert people. It’s the backbone of many desert rural areas, where it’s kept for meat, milk, pelt, and wool. As a result, they are always alert with a dramatic appearance, hardy, and resistant to parasites and foot rot.
Karakul sheep breed single lambs, born black, blue, or red, and turn lighter as they grow.
Most adult Karakuls are white, but you can get color variations from silver, red, beige, pink, and brown. Also, not all Karakul sheep have black faces.
These sheep are listed among endangered breeds. They were replaced as a pelt producer of choice in the U.S. in the mid-nineteenth century. The breed originated in Central Asia.
The Dorper sheep developed out of the frustrations South African farmers experienced when Londoners continuously rejected their rams and lambs.
The goal was to create a sheep breed for meat production in South Africa, but the Dorper has gone far into Mexico, Australia, Canada, and the United States.
The sheep looks rather weird but has a muscular, broad, large body. It is a crossbreed of the Blackhead Persian and Dorset Horn breeds.
The Dorper has grown to be the second-largest breed in South Africa, thanks to its high fertility, long breeding season, and self-sustainability. The lambs start grazing early and grow fast.
Unlike other breeds mentioned here, the Dorper is a hair sheep that needs no shearing. They naturally drop the slightly wooly hair they grow during cold seasons at the start of hot seasons. Also, not all Dorpers have black faces. The breed is mainly raised for meat.
What Breed of Sheep Is White with a Black Face?
Though many sheep breeds may have black faces, their body colors vary. You may find white sheep with black faces, an all-black sheep, or another body-colored sheep with a black face. So, which sheep is white with a black look?
Before we get to the breeds, it’s essential to know that black face is genetic, and any sheep can have it if the parents have the genes. Here are some of the famous sheep breeds that are white with a black face:
- Clun Forest
- Valais Blacknose
- Scottish Blackface
People also ask questions
Are black-faced sheep as good as pure white sheep?
Most black-faced sheep are as good as or even better than pure white or cream white sheep. The main reason is that most black-faced sheep are crossbreeds with superior traits to parent breeds.
As a result, they’ll have better wool, milk, and meat production and adapt better to most climates.
Why do sheep have black faces?
Sheep get black faces if their parents have the gene that causes it and passes it to them. Theoretically, any sheep breed, whether meat-type or wool-type, can have black faces.
Therefore, you should not get alarmed if some ewes in your flock give birth to black-faced lambs.
What are black-faced sheep used for?
Black-faced sheep breeds are excellent wool and meat producers. Their meat is for the table, while wool is used in making carpets, tweeds, stuff mattresses, and other wood-based products.
Also, their skins are precious for making several products. In addition, their good foraging makes them perfect for vegetable control.
Are there all black sheep?
Yes, some sheep breeds are black, from head to hooves. Popular all-black sheep breeds include Black Katahdin, Black Hawaiian, Black Welsh Mountain, Arapawa Island, and Hebridean sheep. However, these breeds can have different colored lambs if bred with other colored breeds.
How rare are black-faced sheep?
Some black-faced sheep breeds are common in the U.S., but some are only available in specific regions. So while it could be an adaptability issue, sometimes it’s because of regional restrictions or competition from native sheep breeds. However, some black-shaped sheep are rare all over the world.
If you are looking for a sheep with black face, then you’ve enough breeds to consider. These breeds are known for adaptability, fast growth, high productivity, and cute looks.
However, you must ensure the breed you choose can do well in your area and that you can rear them the best way possible.