Merino sheep is an autochthonous breed but its rusticity has allowed it to be found on five continents reaching one of the most important ovine censuses in the world.
The breed was born in the region of Andalusia, in the south of Spain, but its roots are located in North Africa or even the Near East.
The history of the Merino has a union to the history and economy of Spain by its high specialization in the production of wool.
It has been exploited exclusively in Spain until at the end of the 18th century it was allowed the export of animals of this breed.
The Merino sheep soon spread from France to the rest of Europe, and from there to the whole world. The census of this race is high, so it is classified as an indigenous breed of development.
The fusion of Merino blood of different types introduced from Spain, Germany, Austria, Hungary, and France, at the beginning of the last century, originated in a new breed specialized in the production of very fine wool.
Characteristics Details of Merino Sheep:
Merino Sheep is a race of straight or sub convex profile, mesomorphs, and large size.
The color is uniform white, being able to present small blond or brown pigmentations in ears, lips, and around the eyes.
The fleece is white and covers almost the entire body, which sometimes limits the animal’s movements.
It is a race in which its ability to produce meat, with a bigger size and a better morphological conformation has been improving considerably.
The wool is classified as type II and III within the classification of Spanish wool. Both sexes may have horns.
Horns, when present, in males are strong, nacre, spiral, and surface with transverse grooves. And in females, the presence of horns is very rare and generally rudimentary.
In males, they reach great development and take the shape of a spiral with the striated surface.
In the females may appear forms little developed or atrophic. It is a breed of double flesh-wool and although superbly gifted for the production of wool.
Given its present low value, its focus is on its excellent qualities for meat production. These qualities are base on its high speed of growth and the commercial quality of the produced channel. You May Also Like To Read Valais Blacknose Sheep.
The average weight at 70 days of the animals of the Elite category of the control of individual growth performed in Exploitation is 30.6 kg in males and 28.1 kg in females.
Likewise, the average daily gain of these animals between 30 and 70 days is 380 g for males and 336g in females.
Merino Sheep is of good shape, with the long and deep trunk. It has broad horizontal and square croup. The buttocks are a good development.
The pure white fleece, homogeneous, of the long and square wick, with fine and curly fiber. The weight of this breed in adult animals is 100 to 120 kg for males. While the females have an estimated weight between 65 and 85 kg.
Merino Sheep traditionally was subject to a very extensive regime, in which the feeding of the sheep was limited to the resources obtained in grazing.
When the place where this breed lived the grass dried or the end of the season arrived, the farmers grazed this race to places where there was green pasture.
Merino Sheep is a breed that was mainly engaged in the production of wool. But the low costs of this production in other countries and the introduction of synthetic fabrics have led to the production of meat and milk.
Highly specialized for its fleece, characterized by its great extension, density, fineness, uniformity, curl, resistance, and absence of dead hair and claw. And the milk that produces this race is used in the manufacture of cheese, of high quality.
Merino Sheep from the reproductive point of view, one of the main characteristics is the continuous ovarian cycle.
Also, this breed has a good fertility in spring. The average prolificity of this breed is 130%, with farms that exceed 140%.
Longevity is another of the qualities of the breed, is between 9 and 10 years. This breed has good characteristics for meat production and adaptability to harsh climatic conditions.
It also adapts easily to varying operating media. These characteristics make it an ideal breed for the industrial crossing with native breeds.
The crossbreeding of this species contributes a greater speed of growth. And a substantial improvement in the confirmation of the crossed lambs.
Demonstrative is the fact of being the Merino Precoz breed, one of the most uses in Spain. It is the largest in the world. It is the wool-producing breed par excellence.
Being also, by its fineness and quality, the one of greater demand and greater worldwide price.
Other notable qualities are the gregarious instinct and the resilience and ease for large displacements. You May Also Like To Read Katahdin Sheep.
As A Reference: Wikipedia