Drenthe Heath Sheep

The Drenthe Heath sheep is a breed of domestic sheep from Netherlands. It is also known as Drents Heideschaap, and raised mainly for vegetation management.

The breed is said to be the oldest surviving sheep breed in Europe. These animals were introduced to Drenthe approximately 4000 BC. And the Drenthe Heath sheep breed probably came with settlers from France.

The breed was developed through the impoverishment of the sandy soils which are a heritage of Ice Age glaciers.

The sheep which always maintained the heathlands became obsolete and it nearly led to their extinction, with the arrival of chemical fertilizers.

Fortunately a herd was founded in the village of Ruinen in 1948, and efforts began to save the breed. Thanks to the efforts of the Dutch Rare Breeds Foundation. Read some more information about this sheep breed below.

Drenthe Heath Sheep Characteristics

The Drenthe Heath sheep are comparatively smaller sized and multi-colored animals. The ewes can be either horned or polled, and the rams are always horned.

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The rams usually have spiral formed horns and the horns are stick formed in the ewes. Average body height of the mature ewes is around 47 cm or 19 inches, and around 52 or 20 inches for the rams.

Average live body weight of the mature Drenthe Heath ewes is around 45 kg. And the mature rams on average weight around 50 kg. Photo and info from Wikipedia.


The Drenthe Heath sheep breed is raised mainly for vegetation management purpose.

Special Notes

The Drenthe Heath sheep are magnificently horned and very beautiful animals. They are very rustic, and can stay outside the whole year.

They thrive on poor, sandy soils such as the heathlands in the Province of Drenthe in the northeastern part of the Netherlands.

One Drenthe Heath ewe usually produces one lamb per year, although sometimes produces two lambs if well fed.

The breed is primarily raised for vegetation management, but is also pretty good for meat production. And the quality of it’s meat is becoming appreciated for it’s naturally fragrant taste which is a result of the grazing on heathlands and fresh meadows.

The lamb meat is sold fresh in organic markets and a line of lamb sausages has also been developed. However, review full breed profile of the Drenthe Heath sheep in the following chart.

Breed NameDrenthe Heath
Other NameDrents Heideschaap
Breed PurposeVegetation management
Special NotesVery beautiful animals, striking appearance and magnificently horned, very rustic, can stay outside the whole year, thrive on poor, sandy soils, one ewe usually produces one lamb per year, raised mainly for vegetation management, also good for meat production
Breed SizeSmall to medium
WeightMature rams live body weight is around 50 kg, and the mature ewes on average weight around 45 kg.
Climate ToleranceNative climates
ColorMulti colored
Country/Place of OriginNetherlands

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