Category: The Jacob sheep

The Jacob sheep

The most distinguishing feature of Jacobs sheep is their impressive horns.  Like some other sheep, both rams (males) and ewes (females) have horns. They generally have one or two pairs, but some Jacobs sheep have six horns!  The ram’s horns can reach 30 inches or more, while ewe’s horns are shorter and more delicate.

The Jacob sheep is a rare breed of small, piebald, polycerate sheep. Jacobs may have from two to six horns, but most commonly have four. The most common color is black and white. Jacobs are usually raised for their wool, meat, and hides. The most distinguishing feature of Jacobs sheep is their impressive horns. Like some other sheep, both rams (males) and ewes (females) have horns. They generally have one or two pairs, but some Jacobs sheep have six horns! The ram’s horns can reach 30 inches or more, while ewe’s horns are shorter and more delicate.Jacobs sheep wool is light, easy to spin and contains little lanolin (a waterproofing substance). People who spin wool into yarn or string love Jacobs sheep wool. Approximately 5-10 pounds of wool is collected off each of the Zoo’s animals each year. The annual trim helps keep them cool in the summer.Jacob Sheep have graced the large estates and country homes of England for many centuries. Their impressive horns, black and white faces and spotted bodies have no doubt contributed to their popularity and survival.

Their actual origins are not known. However, documentation throughout history indicates that the spotted or pied sheep may have originated in what is now Syria some three thousand years ago. Pictorial evidence traces movement of these sheep through North Africa, Sicily, Spain and on to England.There are many romantic stories about the Jacob Sheep being direct descendants of the flock of sheep acquired by Jacob during the time he worked for his father-in-law as mentioned in the Bible (Genesis 30), or that they were washed ashore from shipwrecks during the attempted invasion of the Spanish Armada during the reign of Elizabeth I.


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