Zulu Sheep

The Zulu sheep is a very important breed of sheep which is native to South Africa. It is a very old breed and first appeared on the eastern coast of the South African Province of KwaZulu-Natal around 1,800 to 2,000 years ago.

It is known as ‘Izimvu‘ in it’s native area. The breed is mainly kept by the rural farmers in the Province of KwaZulu-Natal, and it is mainly raised as a source of food and income to poor farmers.

The Zulu sheep belongs to the Nguni type of sheep together with the Pedi and the Swazi sheep. Although it is a popular breed in it’s native area, but it’s existence is threatened.

Popularity and the place of this breed is being taken up by the less adapted exotic sheep breeds. It’s place is taken either by crossbreeding or by replacement.

This change is being driven by the perception, held by most farmers, that indigenous livestock show poorer performance compared to their exotic counterparts.

And breeding programmes are being done for improving this breed through crossbreeding. However, read some more information about this breed below.

Zulu Sheep Characteristics

The Zulu sheep are a smaller sized breed which are well adapted to the local environment in KwaZulu-Natal. They are of multicolored animal with shades of black, brown and white hair or wool.

They can be either fat-tailed or not. The male sheep or rams can be either horned or polled. Most distinguishing characteristics of the rams is that they often have exceedingly small ‘mouse ears’.

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The Zulu sheep have three main color types that dominate their population.

Most common color of these animals is brown and closely followed by the color combination consisting of white and brown.

There is also a color combination of brown and black which is less common. Photo and info from Wikipedia.


Zulu sheep are mainly raised as a source of food and income to the poor farmers in the KwaZulu-Natal area.

Special Notes

The Zulu sheep are very hardy and active animals. They are recognized by the local farmers mainly for their high adaption to the prevalent harsh environmental conditions and their ability to tolerate both external and gastro-intestinal parasites.

They are also known for their resistance to tick-borne diseases, and they can walk longer distances and have good foraging ability. Zulu sheep are not as productive and large as some meat sheep breeds such as the Dorper.

The purebred animals will be able to naturally shear their coats. Two main sources of feed for these animals are hay and maize. However, review full breed profile of the Zulu sheep in the following chart.

Breed NameZulu
Other NameIzimvu
Breed PurposeMeat
Special NotesResistant to both external and internal parasites, very hardy and strong, do very well in local climatic conditions
Breed SizeSmall
HornsYes or polled
Climate ToleranceNative climates
ColorMulticolored shades of black, brown and white hair
Country/Place of OriginSouth Africa

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