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Gulf Coast Sheep

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Other common names: Gulf Coast Native Sheep; Woods Sheep; Native Sheep

The basics:
According to the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy, "Gulf Coast sheep, also known as Gulf Coast Native sheep, Woods sheep, and Native sheep, descend from the Spanish flocks brought to the New World by explorers and settlers beginning in the 1500s."

"Gulf Coast sheep were used across the Southeast by Spanish missionaries, Native Americans, and European settlers as far north as the Carolinas. Spanish sheep in the Southeast were shaped primarily by natural selection, becoming well adapted to the heat and humidity of the environment. These sheep fit their challenging environment so well that for centuries they were the only sheep to be found in the deep South, providing wool and meat for home production. The development of anti-parasite medications in the 1900s allowed the introduction of other, larger, more productive sheep breeds to the Southeast. Gulf Coast sheep were slowly discarded by most farmers; the breed was saved only through the action of a few Southern families."

Appearance / health:
According to the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy, "Gulf Coast sheep lack wool on their faces, legs, and bellies, an adaptation to the heat and humidity of the South. Otherwise they tend to vary somewhat in aspects of physical appearance. Variability has also resulted from the isolation of different strains of the breed. While most sheep are white, blacks and browns also occur, and some individuals may have spotted faces and legs. Most rams and some ewes are horned, although both sexes may also be polled. Gulf Coast sheep vary in size, with rams weighing 125–200 pounds and ewes 90–160 pounds."

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