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Identifying Your Market

What are these sheep good for?

Hair sheep have hair, not wool. If they live in a very cold winter climate, they will have varying degrees of a woolie undercoat. This undercoat sheds out each spring, coming off in clumps or long strands (like dreadlocks). To the best of my knowledge, no one can use this hair for spinning/weaving, thus eliminating a fiber market.

That leaves only two traditional markets available--meat and breeding. I sell my sheep to both markets. The culls (my horned stock) I sell as freezer lambs and my good polled stock I sell to other breeders.

There are additional markets being explored by very creative shepherds. For instance, some folks are leasing out blackbelly sheep for weed control. And as we continue to push for a hair sheep class in show competitions, there will be new markets opening up from 4-H and other regional fair competitions. In Texas, they sell well-horned rams to trophy ranches for hunters to shoot. There also is an exotic pet market that many breeders have tapped into.

A common question I receive from people meeting their first blackbelly is “So if you don’t grow them for wool, what good are they?” If we as breeders don’t have a quick and ready response to this question, these people will go away convinced that our sheep really aren’t good for much except spending money on. That will be a lost advertising opportunity.