Kyrgyzstan’s famous Alai Sheep

Alai sheep originated in Kyrgyzstan. A dual-purpose breed, mainly raised for wool and meat.

The Alai breed has high yields of meat, fat, and wool. 

They developed in the early 20th century from Kirgiz Fat-rumped crossed with Precoce and Sary-Ja breeds.

characteristics of Alai sheep

Mostly white. Rams are either horned or polled while the ewes polled.

Not much wool is present on the legs and head.

The Rams height at the withers is 82 cm, and Ewes are around 75 cm.

Alai Rams grow up to 100 kg while the Ewes are around 80 kg.

Litter size in one.

Lambs weaned at 4 to 5 months. They weigh around weaning time about 30 to 35 kg. 

The carcass weight of 5 or 6-month-old lambs is 16 kg. The ratio of meat to bone is high around 6:1.

The fleece is heterogeneous, white, glistening and hanging in pointed locks. Genuine fibre represents 56.7% of the downy, middle of the road fleece for 13.7% and protects hairs for 29.6% Kemp is uncommon.

The average staple length is 17-30 cm, and the regular fleece fibre length is 8-12 cm.

Wool weight of ewes is 2.5-3.0 kg, and that of rams is 4.5-5.5 kg.

The clean fleece yield is 65-70%.

The Alai breed has one curious element: most sheep don’t shed as other fat-rumped sheep do. 

Things to Know

The Alai is a fat-rear end breed and adapted to living in the Alay Valley area that is over 3 km above ocean level.

From 1992 to 2002, the number of inhabitants in Alai in Kyrgyzstan has diminished from 300,000 to 200,000

Brief characteristics of Alai Sheep

Breed NameAlai sheep
Other NameKyrgyzstan sheep
Country/Place of OriginKyrgyzstan
Breed PurposeMeat and wool
Breed SizeMedium
100 kg (220 lbs)
Ewe(Female)80 kg (180 lbs)
Kiddingone lamb, sometimes twins
Good for Stall Fedopen grazing 
Climate ToleranceNative Climates


  1. “Alai”. Breeds of Livestock. Oklahoma State University, Dept. of Animal Science. Archived from the original on 2008-11-04. Retrieved 2009-05-08.
  2. “Alai/Kyrgyzstan”. Breed datasheet. Domestic Animal Diversity Information System. Retrieved 2009-05-08.
  3. Mason, I.L. 1996. A World Dictionary of Livestock Breeds, Types and Varieties. Fourth Edition. C.A.B International. 273 pp.

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