When you think of spotted animals, what comes to your mind?
Dalmation? Apollos? Jaguar?
What about sheep?
Spotted sheep may not be the first animal on your list when you are trying to decide which animals to raise on your farm. However, if you are looking for an excellent wool breed that is hardy and requires minimal care, the Jacob sheep breed is the way to go.
This spotted sheep is perfect for any homeowner—here’s why.
- 1 What is the breed of Jacob sheep?
- 2 Breed History
- 3 Reasons for raising the breed of Jacob sheep
- 4 Special considerations when raising Jacob Sheep
- 5 how to breed jacob sheep
- 6 Are Jacob Sheep Right For Me?
What is the breed of Jacob sheep?
Jacob sheep are small, black and white sheep with horns. Sheep weigh no more than 120 pounds, while rams generally don’t see anything above 180 pounds.
These sheep are mostly white but have distinctive dark spots or spots. The spots can sometimes be brown or any other color, but black is the most common.
While Polly Jacobs are sheep, this is very uncommon – and these sheep are not considered to be purebreds. Instead, most jacobs have multiple horns, a process known as polycerat breeding. Most sheep of this breed have 2, 4 or 6 horns, with horns on both sexes.
Although both sheep and rams have horns, the horns of Jacob rams are truly breathtaking to behold.
Jacob sheep have a long body frame with a straight back and rump. Eaves have wool-free udders – an advantage when it comes to shearling – and all Jacob sheep have slender, triangular heads.
This breed is one of the oldest domesticated breeds in the world. Spotted sheep – likely the ancestors of what we now refer to as Jacob sheep – have been documented by many cultures throughout history.
They have made appearances in artwork from the Middle East, the Mediterranean, and Asia, with one of the most famous accounts being in the biblical story of Jacob. Jacob raised and raised spotted sheep—presumably the ancestors of what is now the modern-day Jacobite sheep. This is where this breed got its name.
Sheep were first formally recognized in England in the 1600s and were widespread throughout the 1700s. They were first bred as park sheep, intended to serve only ornamental purposes. These picturesque animals were beautiful to look at but required very little care.
Although a primitive breed, the Jacob sheep was prized for its refinement and elegance. For most of its history, it was known as the Spanish sheep and helped to decorate British estates.
It was first imported to North America in the mid-20th century, but most of the continent’s modern population dates back three decades or so.
Over the years, selective breeding has allowed Jacob sheep to become larger and more productive. It is not one of the most common sheep breeds, with the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy listing the North American population of this breed as a top conservation priority.
Reasons for raising the breed of Jacob sheep
Here are some great reasons to consider raising Jacob Sheep on your farm.
1. Excellent wool production
When it comes to finding the best sheep breed for wool, you will have no shortage of options. From merino sheep to rambouillets, the market is full of potential options.
Jacob Sheep is also a top contender. This breed produces a medium wool that is light and loose. It has a core length of 4-6 inches and weighs up to 6 pounds.
It is highly sought after by fiber artisans as it is not only amazing in texture but also offers various combinations of colors (black, white, or a mix of both).
Most people shear their Jacob sheep once a year in the spring. It is known for being springy with a little lanolin. Some sheep of this breed experience natural breaking of the wool even in the spring, so you can do some rowing as well.
Jacob sheep are known to be low-maintenance animals with high resistance to hoof problems and parasites. They do well when left to their own devices, requiring only a basic shelter in extreme temperature conditions. This sheep breed is known for its ability to thrive in extreme heat and cold and has good forage capability.
They are also unique in that they can survive without the need for extensive supplementation. Although it is always a good idea to provide mineral supplementation to your sheep, especially if soil conditions are not favorable, these sheep are more or less self-sufficient.
3. Unique Appearance
Jacobs isn’t the only breed that can have piebald or polycerat colors – others include the Icelandic, Manx Logtan, Hebridian and Navajo-Churro.
However, there is something so beautiful about Jacob the Sheep that it definitely deserves attention. It’s not just its color but its unique horns – this sheep is absolutely breathtaking.
4. Easy Lambing
Jacob sheep are known for being good, easygoing lambs. They are seasonal breeders who cycle through the cooler months of the fall.
Typically, Jacob ewes will hold 1-2 lambs, although triplets may occasionally occur. Lamb can be weaned early, usually between 2-4 months of age. Eves are known to be attentive mothers who protect their lambs.
If you want to raise sheep for both meat and wool, Jacob sheep can be a good choice. Although they are not exceptionally fast-growing or prolific, the meat produced by Jacob sheep is exceptionally lean.
There is very little external fat on Jacob sheep. Because of this, you will get a higher overall yield than more advanced breeds, despite the breed’s smaller size.
Special considerations when raising Jacob Sheep
There are some challenges that you will need to plan ahead for when raising a Jacob Sheep. Keep these bits in mind.
1. Hard to Find
One particular issue involving raising Jacob Sheep has nothing to do with actually raising them—and more search to buy them in the first place.
They are not very common in America. Due to the sheep’s unique appearance, there has been a barrier to preserving it as a pure breed. Several types of spotted sheep are now available, including the Jacob-Dorset cross. These are often sold as purebred Jacobs to unsuspecting buyers.
Because of this, it is very difficult to identify and buy pure bred Jacob sheep.
2. Skittish Behavior
Jacob sheep do not have a strong herding instinct. They are more difficult to manage in terms of herding and transportation.
They can be a bit shy around people, but you can improve this with daily practice. In fact, many people have reported that, by interacting regularly with their sheep, they make excellent pets and are quite tame.
3. Long Tail Breed
There are some advantages to raising Jacob sheep when it comes to management. Because there is no wool on the udder or scrotum of a Jacob sheep, you will have slightly less shearing that you need to do.
However, the Jacob sheep has a long, woolly tail that can extend almost all the way if not docked.
Tail docking is a controversial practice and most Jacob sheep owners choose not to dock completely anyway. However, it is important to note that you will need to be extra vigilant for flystrike if you let the tail stay.
Flystrike is more common in sheep that have not docked their tails because the wool can deposit manure there. Keep your barn clean and your animals healthy – and you should be able to.
4. Cow herds and other congenital diseases
Jacob sheep are prone to a condition known as cow-hawk. It is a defect found in many types of four-legged animals, most commonly in animals such as cows, horses, cats and dogs.
This is when a hock is set inward, which makes the sheep look as if it has pierced the hind legs. This can cause the hooves to wear unevenly and eventually lead to permanent lameness.
Because of this, it is important to keep an eye out for early symptoms. Many Jacob Sheep will continue to lead active, productive lives, but as with others, additional veterinary care may be needed. You may need to trim your hooves more often.
There are some other congenital diseases to which this breed is prone. One is the split eyelid, a defect that is common in many other polyceratate British breeds. It is also associated with the multi-horned trait. This can in extreme cases cause detachment of the upper eyelid in the center, affecting your vulva’s vision and causing pain.
how to breed jacob sheep
Jacob sheep do not require much extra care. They are easy to care for and require only basic shelter – shelter, food and fresh water.
The shelter you provide for your Jacob sheep does not need to be extensive. A three-sided hut is all your animals need, as it will provide them with shade and protection from driving rain.
Feed your Jacob sheep a mix of hay and fresh pasture. You can feed grains in moderation but it is not necessary. They do best with lots of roughage!
There is a common misconception that Jacob sheep do not need to be provided with a mineral supplement. Although they are better able to survive on certain nutrients than other breeds of sheep, it is a good idea to provide them with a free substitute mineral supplement so they can make up for any deficiencies as needed.
Are Jacob Sheep Right For Me?
There are countless reasons to consider raising a Jacob sheep. If for any reason other than its remarkable horns, this breed of sheep should be considered.
If you are still looking for the ideal breed of sheep for your farm, consider Jacob sheep – although they can be difficult to find, chasing them will be well worth the result!