East Friesian Sheep Characteristics, Uses & Origin

The East Friesian sheep is a breed of domestic sheep from Germany. It was actually originated from the Friesland area in northern Germany and Holland, and also known as Ostfriesisches Milchschaf.

It is a dairy sheep breed and raised mainly for milk production. And it is either the best or one of the best dairy sheep breeds in terms of milk production per ewe.

Although these animals are also used as a cross for other sheep breeds for improving milk production in non-dairy sheep breeds.

11 pregnant East Friesian ewes and 4 rams were imported into New Zealand from Sweden in 1992.

The animals were placed in quarantine in Silverstream and a breeding program was created that used embryo transfer techniques, and only embryos from the original sheep were allowed to be released from the quarantine.

The first sheep were released from the quarantine and allowed to leave the farm in 1996.

The East Friesian sheep were introduced to the United States from Canada as purebreeds in 1994, and the breed quickly caught on in local dairy operations.

Today, the breed is raised mainly as a dairy sheep breed. And it is one of the best dairy breeds for milk production. Read some more information about this breed below.

Table of Contents

East Friesian Sheep Characteristics

The East Friesian sheep are large sized animals, and are large-framed. They are usually white in coloration, and there are also a dark variation exists of these animals.

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They have pink nose and a thin tail. Their heads and legs are generally clear of wool, and have pale hooves.

Both rams and ewes are generally polled, that means they have no horns. Photo and info from Wikipedia.


The East Friesian sheep is a dairy or milk sheep breed. It is raised mainly for milk production.

Special Notes

The East Friesian sheep are pretty strong animals, and they are well suited to almost all climates. They are relatively docile in terms of temperament which is a desirable trait in any dairy livestock.

The ewes tend to lamb by the time they are a year old and mature ewes are more productive. The lambs are taken away from their mothers after a few days and raised on a bottle like most other dairy animals.

The ewes are ideal for cross breeding with other sheep breeds which are already well adapted to local climates.

The East Friesian ewes are excellent milk producers. They are able to produce roughly 300-360 liters of milk over a lactation period of 200-300 days. However, review full breed profile of the East Friesian sheep in the following chart.

Breed NameEast Friesian
Other NameOstfriesisches Milchschaf
Breed PurposeMainly milk
Special NotesPretty strong animals, well suited to almost all climates, relatively docile in terms of temperament, the ewes are ideal for cross breeding with other sheep breeds, excellent milk producers
Breed SizeMedium to large
Climate ToleranceAlmost all climates
ColorMainly white
Country/Place of OriginGermany

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