The Hog Island sheep is a breed of domestic sheep from United States. It has descended from the animals first brought to Virginia’s Hog Island in the eighteenth century. Storm conditions forced the island’s residents to evacuate during the 1930s and 1940s, leaving some sheep behind. Those sheep became feral, and adapted to the environment free of human intervention.
The Nature Conservancy bought the island in the 1970s, rounded up the sheep, and removed them for preventing overgrazing. The breed is thought to have descended from the Merino sheep breed, among others, possibly the Improved Leicester or other English sheep breeds. Today, the Hog Island sheep are extremely rare, with fewer than 200 registered animals available. It is listed as ‘Critical‘ by The Livestock Conservancy. Read some more information about this sheep breed below.
Hog Island Sheep Characteristics
The Hog Island sheep are small to medium sized animal. They are mostly white in color, with about 10 percent black individuals. The lambs are born with spotted or speckled fleece. Both rams and ewes usually have horns. The face and legs of these animals can be speckled brown, black and white or have black faces and legs. Their wool is of medium weight with fleece production ranging from 2 to 8 lbs. They will naturally shed their wool slowly each year.
Average live body weight of the mature Hog Island rams is about 57 kg. And the mature ewe’s live body weight is around 41 kg. Photo and info from Wikipedia.
Hog Island sheep is a wool sheep breed. It is raised primarily for wool production.
The Hog Island sheep are relatively smaller in size, but they are very hardy and tough. Today, these animals are not commonly used in modern farming, mainly because of it’s endangered status (and also because more modern sheep breeds have been bred for other characteristics, including maximum size and fleece yield). They are very good for wool production, producing a medium wool of 3.5 to 5 lbs in weight.
The ewes are excellent mothers, and they most often give birth to twins. Hog Island sheep are excellent foragers, and they prefer to browse rather than graze. They stay in very tight flocks and are extremely alert in nature. However, review full breed profile of the Hog Island sheep in the chart below.
Hog Island Sheep | Breed Profile
|Breed Name||Hog Island|
|Breed Purpose||Mainly wool|
|Special Notes||Very hardy and tough, very good for wool production, produce medium wool, ewes are excellent mothers, the ewes most often give birth to twins, excellent foragers, prefer to browse rather than graze, usually stay in very tight flocks and are extremely alert in nature|
|Breed Size||Small to medium|
|Weight||Vary from 41 to 57 kg|
|Climate Tolerance||Native climates|
|Color||Mainly white, and also black|
|Country/Place of Origin||United States|