The Merino is a breed or group of breeds of domestic sheep, characterised by very fine soft wool. It was established in Spain near the end of the Middle Ages, and was for several centuries kept as a strict Spanish monopoly; exports of the breed were not allowed, and those who tried risked the death penalty.
During the eighteenth century, flocks were sent to the courts of a number of European countries, including France (where they developed into the Rambouillet), Hungary, the Netherlands, Prussia, Saxony and Sweden. The Merino subsequently spread to many parts of the world, including Australia and New Zealand.
Numerous recognised breeds, strains and variants have developed from the original type; these include, among others, the American Merino and Delaine Merino in the Americas, the Australian Merino, Booroola Merino and Peppin Merino in Oceania, the Gentile di Puglia, Merinolandschaf and Rambouillet in Europe. The Australian Poll Merino is a polled (hornless) variant. Rams of other Merino breeds have long, spiral horns which grow close to the head, while ewes are usually hornless.
Types of Merino Sheep Wool
German Mutton Merino
South African Merino
South African Mutton Merino
Strong Wool Merino
Characteristics of the Merino Sheep
The Merino is a breed that has a variety of appearances, especially in size and conformation; however, they are generally medium in size, are white in color, and have crimped wool fibers. There are two types of Merino, those with horns and those without. The ones without horns actually have small stubs on the top of their heads, and the horned Merinos will have long horns that spiral close to the head. This breed is well known for their foraging abilities, and the fact they are very adaptable. While they are predominantly known for their wool, some breeders occasionally use them for meat even they are much smaller than meat breeds. Like the South African Meat Merino, the German Meriofleischschaf, and the American Rambouillet. Three breeds that are working on fine-tuning the balance of both wool and meat in this breed.
Features of Merino Sheep
Due to domestication and breeding, the Merino Sheep must be shorn annually, because they cannot survive without regular care by humans. Because the wool on this breed does not stop growing, they run the risk of wool blindness, heat stress, followed by mobility issues. Merino wool is extremely fine and two and a half to four inches long. Depending on the breed of Merino, they can produce between 13 and 40 pounds of wool in a year, and this is three times more than ordinary sheep. There are five types of wool that include ultrafine, superfine, fine, medium, and strong wool. The differences are based on the micron measurements. Ultrafine is as small as 11 microns in diameter and often used in cashmere fabrics. One of the best quality types of wool comes from the merino sheep, which the fashion industry mainly uses for sweaters, scarves, stockings, and very noble fabrics.
Merino sheep are wool sheep breed. They are raised primarily for wool production. But they are also good for meat production. The Merino sheep are strong and hardy animals. They are well adapted to almost all climates and they are excellent forager.
Merino Sheep Wool Price