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Jacob Sheep Sport Four To Six Horns
Four horns and the markings and coloring of a Holstein cow. That's a quick description of Jacob sheep, the sole spotted sheep breed in the U.S.
You might think that this is a new exotic crossbreed but, according to Ed Barraclough, Issaquah, Wash., the breed dates back to England in the 1700's. "The breed was almost extinct in 1970 until a group in England formed an association and set breed standards," he explains.
Barraclough, who had never raised sheep before, now has 14 of the Jacob breed and coordinates registration of the breed in the U.S.
"Their colors range from black and white in younger sheep to gray and white in older animals. Their distinct coloring makes their wool popular with handspinners who can make colored garments with undyed wool. Spinners also say they like the "handle" of the wool. Good, clean Jacob rag wool can bring $5.00 a pound versus about $1.50 a pound for other wool," says Barraclough.
The sheep usually have four horns, but sometimes have just two or as many as six horns. On four-horned sheep, two of the horns go straight up out of the top of the head up to 18 in. long. The other two horns curve down from the side of the head. Barraclough notes that the animals develop a full set of horns by the time they're three years old. He notes that they don't have any special feeding or drinking problems because of the horns, although in a few cases their front horns will curve forward making it difficult for them to graze.
Barraclough says Jacob sheep are ideal for people not used to raising sheep because the breed is "maintenance free." "They're highly resistant to disease, lamb themselves and are excellent foragers," he explains.
He estimates that there are 300 of the rare breed in the U.S. The breed cannot be directly imported from England although animals can indirectly enter after going through a five-year quarantine in Canada.
Barraclough says the price for a Jacob ewe or ram ranges from $350 to $500.
For more information, contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Ed Barraclough, 3424 225th S.E., Issaquah, Wash. 98207 (ph 206 392-6008).

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1984 - Volume #8, Issue #2