The TSGRA represents Texas ranchers who raise a wide variety of sheep and goat breeds. Below you will find photos and information about the many breeds that are raised by our members. Click on any of the banners to show or hide the breed details.
Sheep breeds of Texas
The origin of the Barbados Blackbelly has been widely accepted as African, however, there is compelling historical evidence that the Barbados Blackbelly as a breed originated and evolved on the island of Barbados. The Barbados Blackbelly exhibit the distinctive color pattern of the breed, tan with black belly and face and both sexes are polled. The Barbados Blackbelly breed was originally introduced into the U.S. by the USDA in 1904. Descendents of the Barbados Blackbelly are found in Texas and are known as Barbados. The Barbados breed originated from Barbados Blackbelly sheep which were crossed with Rambouillet and European Mouflon. One of the uses of the Barbados is as a trophy animal on game ranches due to its large curled horns. It is typically tan, tan with a pale or black belly or pied. Males show the horns for which the breed was selected and the females are polled. Flavor of the meat from Barbados Blackbelly is excellent, being much milder than meat from our traditional market lambs. Barbados Blackbelly sheep are considered to be resistant to the effects of internal parasites. These sheep are also resistant to most of the sheep diseases that can easily desimate unvaccinated wooled flocks. Thus, it is much easier to raise Barbados Blackbelly sheep without chemical intervention, making them popular with breeders serving organic and ethnic markets.
Columbia, the first breed originated in the U.S., was developed in 1912 from Lincoln X Rambouillet crosses. Columbias are prolific, hardy, gregarious and good mothers with good milking ability. They are large with white faces and wool on the legs, useful in crossbred market lamb production, and yield heavy medium wool fleeces with good length, free of black fiber.
The closely related Delaine-Merino and Texas Delaine were developed from the Spanish Merino having an unbroken line of breeding 1200 years old. The modern Delaine-Merinos are relatively smooth-bodied, intermediate sized, white-faced with wool on the legs, hardy, long-lived, gregarious, adapted for unassisted lambing, produce well in extremely warm climates under relatively poor feed conditions, breed year round, and produce a high quality fine-wool fleece.
The Dorper was developed in South Africa in the 1930’s by crossing a Blackheaded Persian ewe with a Dorset Horn ram. The breed has the characteristic black head (Dorper) as well as the white heads (White Dorper). The Dorper is primarily a mutton sheep that was developed for the arid extensive regions of South Africa. They are hornless and have a short, light covering of hair and wool that will shed off so they do not have to be shorn. They are known as easy keepers and require very little labor. Dorpers are exceptional in terms of adaptability, hardiness, reproductive rates, mothering ability, and growth rate. The Dorper is hardy and can thrive under range conditions where other breeds can barely exist and still raise a good lamb. They also have a long breeding season which is not seasonally limited. As a strong and non-selective grazer the Dorper can advantageously be incorporated into a well planned range management system.
The Hampshire was developed in England from Southdown X Wiltshire Horn and Berkshire Knot crosses and imported into the U.S. in the 1880’s. A popular meat breed, Hampshires are crossbred with white-faced ewes for market lamb production. Hampshires are large sized with black faces and wool on the legs, adaptable to varied and wet climates, used in farm flock production, and prolific with good maternal instincts and milking ability. The fast-growing breed has excellent carcass merit and a medium, easy-to-spin wool.
Katahdins are a breed of hair sheep that were developed in the United States by Michael Piel of Maine. The breeds that went into the development of the Katahdin were the West African hair sheep, St. Croix, Wiltshire Horn, and various Down breeds including Southdown, Hampshire, Suffolk, Cheviots, and others. Selection was primarily for a hair coat that did not require shearing, meat-type conformation, high fertility, and flocking instinct. Katahdins are hardy, adaptable, low maintenance sheep that produce superior lamb crops and lean, meaty carcasses that offer a very mild flavor. They produce a very thick winter coat which sheds during warm seasons and therefore do not require shearing. The hair coat of the Katahdin can be any color or color combination. They are medium-sized and efficient, bred for utility and production in a variety of management systems. Ewes have exceptional mothering ability and lamb easily. Lambs are born vigorous and alert. The breed is ideal for pasture lambing and grass/forage based management systems. Katahdins are also significantly tolerant of internal and external parasites and if managed carefully require minimal parasite treatment.
Developed from the Spanish Merino in France, the Rambouillet is the foundation of most western range flocks. The Rambouillet is large, white-faced with wool on the legs, fast-growing, long-live, gregarious, adaptable to various climatic and forage conditions, considered one of the best sheep for breeding year round, and produces a high quality, fine-wool fleece.
Royal White Sheep
Royal white sheep are a hair breed that were privately funded and developed in the U.S. by William Hoag of Dorpcroix Sheep Farm in Hermleigh, Texas. The Royal White was developed by crossing the St. Croix with the Dorper and White Dorper and were originally called Dorpcroix. These sheep were sold to the public for breeding enabling many traditional wool producers to retain wool ewes and utilize the Dorpcroix rams to achieve lower maintenance and labor benefits and in many cases more lambs with better survivability. The name Dorpcroix was later changed to Royal White. The Royal White are pure white and both the ewes and rams are polled or naturally hornless. They grow a longer hair coat in the fall and then shed it off naturally in the spring.
One of the oldest breeds of sheep, the Southdown originated in England where it contributed to the development of other breeds. Imported into the U.S. in 1803, the Southdown is best suited to farm flock production. It is medium to small sized with gray to mouse-brown face and wool on the legs. This early maturing breed has good lambing ability and excellent crossing ability to produce meaty lamb carcasses at light weights and hot-house lambs. The Southdown is adaptable to varied and wet climates, and yields a medium, easy-to-spin wool.
St. Croix Sheep
The St. Croix or Virgin Island White breed is found in the U.S. and British Virgin Islands in the Caribbean. It is believed to have descended from the hair sheep of west Africa and were introduced into the U.S. in 1975. Most of these sheep are white with some solid tan, brown, black, or white with brown or black spots. Both sexes are polled and rams have a large throat ruff. They are climate adapted, fertile, excellent foragers, and exceptionally parasite resistant compared to British sheep breeds. While they can withstand high heat and humidity better than British sheep breeds, they have adapted to variable climatic conditions in many parts of the country. In colder zones they produce a very heavy winter coat of mixed wool and hair that is shed in the spring. Ewes can breed back one month after lambing and produce two lamb crops per year.
The Suffolk originated in England from Southdown X Norfolk crosses and was imported into the U.S. inn 1888. The breed is highly adapted to farm flock production and crossbred with commercial white-faced ewes for market lamb production. The Suffolk is large sized with bare head, black face and bare, black legs. Hardy, highly prolific Suffolks have excellent growth rates, milking ability and lambing ability, adapt well to heat and cold, and produce high quality meat carcasses and a medium, easy-to-spin wool.
Goat breeds of Texas
The Angora goat originated in the district of Angora in Asia Minor. The Angora dates back prior to early biblical history. The Angora is a very picturesque animal in which both sexes are horned. The ears are heavy and drooping. The Angora goat is a small animal as compared to sheep, common goats or milk goats. The most valuable characteristic of the Angora goat as compared to other goats is the value of the mohair that is clipped. The average goat in the U.S. shears approximately 5.3 pounds of mohair per shearing and is usually sheared twice a year. The Angora goat is a browsing animal, which has made it very adaptable to certain agriculture sections. They have often been able to provide economic returns to land that is unsuitable for usual agriculture pursuits.
The Boer goat originated in South Africa and was imported into the U.S. in 1993 by stockmen with a vision to see the Boer goat affect the growing goat meat market in the United States. The Boer goat is a very hardy animal, has a high resistance to disease, adapts well to various climates and terrains and has outstanding size and rate of growth. It is a horned breed with lop ears and shows a variety of color patterns. The predominant color pattern is a white body with a red head and ears. The Boer goat is primarily being used to cross on the Spanish, Angora and dairy goats to improve meat production.
The word cashmere is the English derivation of the name of the Himalayan state of Kashmir. The term has been used to describe the fine, soft-handling down undercoat which is produced from goats of that area. The term cashmere could be regarded as a textile processing term with little relevance to the animal which produces it. In the U.S., most breeds of short haired goats such as the Spanish, Boer and dairy breeds produce cashmere in varying amounts. In the last few years the U.S. has been developing a cashmere growing industry by breeding selected cashmere goats to our short-haired goats.
Dairy goats are hardy, gentle, intelligent animals with a lifespan is 8 to 12 years. Dairy goats are kept successfully in all climates. While dairy goats will graze grass pastures, they prefer to browse brush lands and a varied selection of pasture plants, including non-noxious weeks. On a worldwide basis, more people drink the milk of goats than any other single animal. Goat milk has a more easily digestible fat and protein content than cow milk. Many dairy goats, in their prime, average 6 to 8 lbs. of milk daily (roughly 3 to 4 quarts) during a ten-month lactation, giving more soon after freshening and gradually dropping in production toward the end of their lactation. The milk generally averages 3.5 percent butterfat.
The Fainting (Myotonic) Goat, also known by other names as the Tennessee fainting, wooden leg, stiff, nervous, and scare goats, get their name from a characteristic called myotonia congenita, in which muscle cells cause an exaggerated response to stimulation, the inability of the muscle to quickly relax after voluntary contraction such as when they are startled. This causes them to fall down and appear to faint, yet they are conscious throughout the entire episode which can last up to 15 seconds. Myotonic goats have enlarged muscles due to this “exercise” resulting in a well built body, making them an exceptional meat goat. Their ancestry can be traced back to the 1880’s, to a man named John Tinsley who appeared in Marshall Co. TN. He was thought to have brought his herd from Nova Scotia. Being a landrace breed, their size, coat length, and color are variable, yet they all share characteristics such as prominent eyes, straight profiled face, medium horizontal ears, to name a few. They have a gentle nature, are easy to raise, very adaptable, and are a hearty breed.
When the Spanish explorers came to America, they brought goats as a meat source. Some of these goats either escaped or were released when alternate meat sources were discovered. These feral goats became known as “Spanish” or “brush goats.” Although not of a specific breed ancestry, they have developed through natural selection. The term has also been used to describe any goat of unknown ancestry. Most are wild or at least semi-wild. Size varies greatly due to climate, terrain and available breeding stock. Body shape, ear shape, horns, hair and color are non consistent.
Tasty recipes featuring lamb and goat! Check back often for more!
Rack of Lamb With Maple-Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Delicata Squash, and Pears