A fairly rare breed that can grow up to six horns is the Jacob sheep! Or as little as two, but it is most common to have four horns. A finely-bred Jacob should have eye patches that reach over the cheeks and a white blaze, a long tail, and white wool with patches of darker colour, usually black, according to the Jacob Sheep Breeders Association. Initially, they were held on high-class estates only for their looks. They are now being used for wool, meat, leather, and their peculiar horns that can be turned into a number of items.
- Najdi a Najdi
In Saudi Arabia and in other countries in the Middle East, Najdi sheep are bred. The best of the breed have long, silky hair and drooping ears and are very tall. With white faces and feet, they are usually black. For wool and milk, they are mostly bred, and are very common at livestock shows.
- Balwen Mountain Welsh
The sheep shown above looks like it’s pretending to be a border collie, but those are a Balwen Welsh Mountain sheep’s distinctive markings. The breed originates in Wales in the Tywi Valley district. During an especially bad winter in 1947, it was almost wiped out, but the breed has bounced back. These sheep are small, healthy, and tough, according to the Balwen Welsh Mountain Sheep Society, and they are so cooperative that you don’t need a dog to herd them.
- To Awassi
In Iraq, Syria, Jordan, and other parts of the Middle East, Awassi sheep are common. Up to six horns can be grown by males. Awassi sheep have “fat tails,” meaning that in their tails they bear a layer of fat that can get in the way of milking. With thin but fluffy wool that protects them from the effects of the sun, and that traps a layer of air to serve as an insulator from both heat and cold, they are well suited to desert life. Awassi sheep also control the temperature according to their pulse rates! For meat and wool, they are used, but more for milk than anything else.
- Welsh Mountain Badger Face
The Badger Face Welsh Mountain sheep, like the Balwen Welsh Mountain sheep, is a breed with distinctive face markings native to Wales. They come in two shades, according to the Badger Face Welsh Mountain Sheep Society: Torddu, which is white with a black belly and black facial markings resembling a badger, and Torwen, which is black with a white belly. A Torddu is the sheep pictured above. They’re both tiny and they’re known for their good meat.
- Zwartbles Zwartbles
Not only do Zwartbles sheep have a special look, they also have an amazing name from the Netherlands. In caring for their lambs, they are good-natured, lively, and are very maternal. The Zwartbles Sheep Association says that they have a thick, springy, black fleece (which turns brownish in the sun) and a white blaze as the uniform for the race. Their tails also have white socks and white tips. Zwartbles is a pretty big sheep. In the ’70s, the breed almost died out, with just 250-500 in 1978 on farms. Wool spinners who wanted the dark wool saved the breed, and the numbers rebounded. They were shipped to the UK in later decades, where the population of Zwartble increased greatly.
- Leicester Bluefaced
There are three breeds of Leicester Longwool sheep from England, founded in the 1700s by Robert Bakewell. In the late 1800s, The Blueface was first bred. Dark skin with white hair is responsible for the blue cast of the sheep’s face.
- Racka Racka
Racka sheep are of Hungarian descent. Their distinction lies in their long horns, which can grow on rams up to 20 inches long, and on ewes only a little shorter. Their wool varies from brown to black in various colours, and the tips can turn red when exposed to the sun or grey with age. Racka sheep are hardy and, for this trait, are prized crossbreeders.
The sheep of the Faroe Islands have been separated for a thousand years, at least since the time of the Vikings, from mainland UK sheep. On the islands today, there are around 70,000 Faeroe sheep. Tiny, hardy, and wearing a thick, warm coat of fur, the Faeroes graze the windy islands. They are raised in the Faroe Islands for their wool, which is still hand-spun and knitted by individuals, as well as sold to clothing firms that sell sweaters using the cachet of the islands.
10. Loaghtan Manx
A rare and ancient breed of sheep from the Isle of Man is the Manx Loaghtan sheep. Although the sheep come in many colours, the term “loaghtan” means mouse-brown. It is another breed of polycerate, meaning two, four, or six horns may be produced. In the 1950s, the breed was almost wiped out, but thanks to conservation efforts and interest in the high quality wool of the sheep, it has bounced back. To fill the ecological void left by the extinct Jersey sheep, Manx Loaghtan sheep have been introduced to the Isle of Jersey.
- Wensleydale Wensleydale
Wensleydale sheep are tall, with blue faces, but the long, curly wool that resembles sausage curls or dreadlocks from a distance is their most distinctive feature. Most Wensleydale sheep are white, but when the recessive gene for black wool is carried by both parents, an occasional black Wensleydale is born. Their wool is the most expensive in Britain, so both for crossbreeding and for wool and meat, Wensleydale is popular.