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JACOB'S FOUR HORN SHEEP BY: LYNDON COMBS

                                                          

  Sometimes referred to as Jacob’s Sheep, the name reflects the most noticeable trait of this sheep…4 horns!  The origin is not definitively known other than the first literature on this sheep from the 1700’s refers to a “…Spanish sheep with 4 horns.”  They may have only two horns, but are often are multi-horned with four, or even six horns. Rams weigh about 120 to 180 pounds, and the ewes 100 to 120 pounds they are angular, with triangular faces, thin legs, and long bodies with sloped rumps. They are grown for their wool, meat, hides, and now for hunting. Jacobs do not flock together, and can be very skittish if not around people a great deal, they can be kept as pets with daily handling and human contact. As you can see from the pictures these sheep are truly unique looking animals!!

  Their exotic appearance is the reason that these animals were first imported to the United States and Canada. Displayed in Zoos up until the 1960's when individuals outside those circles started acquiring the rare sheep. They stayed in the shadows as rare animals for several decades until1985 when identification of the breed as endangered made it mandatory that animals be registered.  As of 2009 the breed is listed as threatened by the American Live stock Breeds Conservancy which means that the breed has fewer than 1,000 annual registrations in the U.S., and fewer than 5,000 global population. This is however not an animal that needs to be protected as other endangered animals would be as the Rare Breed Survival Trust in the United Kingdom states that it is not at risk due to the fact that there are in excess of 3,000 registered breeding females.

  Rare, exotic, and skittish an animal that can thrive due to various economic advantages they are becoming very popular among land owners that see that the best way to bring the numbers up is by taking advantage of those economic opportunities. You see for a person to take up the care, and breeding of animals such as this they have to have a way of funding such endeavors. Just as with many other breeds whose numbers have been low in the past (Deer, Bison ) providing responsible management, and realizing the economic opportunities of the animals provides for a system that they can thrive,  

  One of the best types of management happens on hunting ranches all over the U.S. as the animals become popular among hunters looking for that rare trophy, meat, or hide.  The wool of these animals is another way of making money by the breeders as the wool is a medium fine quality, and can be used by hand spinners.

Interesting Note: 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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