10 Best Sheep Breeds for Meat

We all agree with the fact that sheep meat is the best-tasted meat for anyone. The tenderness and juiciness are something that stays on, only making us want more.

There are varieties of sheep breeds found in various parts of the world. Some are famous for its wool, and some are for both wool and meat. At the same time, some are raised for dairy purposes.

This list will give you information about the different breeds of sheep for meat. Every breed is different in terms of taste and texture.

10 Best Sheep Breeds for Meat

We have listed a few of the best sheep breeds for meat, their positives, negatives, taste, and texture of meat. Give it a read to know more:

1. Merino

Cgoodwin, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Merino’s origin was in Morocco, but later on, they were found in Spain’s high altitudes too. This breed is extremely popular in both Australia and the United States. There, its breed is known as United States Merinos and Australian Merinos, respectively.

Merino sheep are medium-sized animals. Carcass size of this breed is relatively smaller than other breeds of sheep. They are supposed to be either polled or horned.

The average weight is about 55-80 kg.


  • This breed is proven to be very economical for sheep breeders.
  • They raise this breed at low cost and gain enormous profits by selling their meat, wool, or dairy purpose.
  • They can survive in almost every kind of climate as they are good foragers.


  • They become very fluffy as their wool does not stop growing and needs to be shortened once a year to avoid suffocation or sudden death due to excessive heat in their body.

2. Leicester Long Wool Sheep

Leicester longwool sheep are believed to be an English breed of sheep; they were supposed to be discovered by 18th-century breeding innovator Robert Bakewell. They are medium to large-sized animals.

Nowadays, they are considered one of the rarest breeds of sheep in Britain. They are almost on the verge of getting extinct.

They are categorized as “endangered” by Rare Breeds Survival Trust. This breed is one of the purest breeds that was introduced in Australia. Their average weight is 11-15 pounds.


  • They yield high-quality tender meat.
  • They are a dual-purpose breed as they can be used for getting wool as well as for meat.
  • Most of the time, people prefer to crossbreed them with other sheep to improve the mixed breed’s meat quality.


  • Due to their furry appearance, they are not well suited for every environment.
  • They require shorn twice a year as their wool keeps on growing.

Also Read: 11 Best Dairy Sheep Breeds for Milk Production

3. Lincoln Sheep

Lincoln Sheep
Jane Cooper Orkney, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Lincoln sheep is a breed that originated from England; Lincoln is the largest British sheep breed.

They are developed mainly to produce the most massive, longest, and most lustrous fleece in the world. Its wool is used in spinning, weaving, and other crafts.

They are involved in crossbreeding with other breeds to increase the productivity of wool and meat. They are large-sized animals weighing 91-113 kg.


  • It produces high-quality wool and meat, and thus perfect for commercial purposes.
  • They are dual-purpose animals and are raised for both meat and wool.
  • Their carcass is gigantic with a well-muscled appearance.


  • They are well suited for the cold and dry climate type, not favorable to be raised in other kinds of weather.
  • Their lambs grow at a significantly faster rate; therefore, its breeding is quite tricky.

4. Dorset Sheep

Dorset Sheep
Sergei S. Scurfield, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Dorset sheep breed originated in the United Kingdom, and it is a British sheep breed. They were discovered in the 17th century; Dorset sheep are highly economical as sometimes they can have two lambing seasons per year.

Among other British breeds, they can be bred throughout the winters. Its main attraction is its curled horns and pink nose; they produce a thick fleece of about 2.25 to 3 kg.

Their average weight of Dorset sheep varies according to its gender; for instance, a male Dorset weighs about 100-125 kg, whereas a female Dorset weighs 70-90 kg.

Due to its massive demand for meat, the Dorset sheep get exported to many countries as they are one of the purest British breeds.


  • They have dual characteristics and can be used for the production of meat and milk.
  • The milk produced is thick in texture and is of good quality. The ewes can produce lambs up to 10- 12 years.
  • Apart from this, their hairs are used to make the outstanding quality of wool.


  • Their breeding has to be in specific locations as they are not well suited for extreme climates.

5. Dorper Sheep Breed

Dorper Sheep Breed
Attiewestraad, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Dorper sheep breed is a domestic sheep breed mainly originated from South Africa. They were developed by cross-breeding of Dorset Horn and the Blackhead Persian Sheep.

This breed was created mainly to get a good yield of meat and milk by the South African Department of Agriculture. The Dorper breed is very economical; it requires less input and is easy to manage as they are docile.

Dorper sheep are small to medium-sized animals with no horns, and the lambs can weigh about 36 kg during their 100 days of age.


  • They produce a thick and well-muscled carcass.
  • The ewes are highly fertile; unlike other breeds, it does not often require sheering and shorn of wool.
  • Being hardy, their breeding is done in almost all parts of the world as they can adapt to climatic changes quickly.


  • Though they are highly economical, they are short-lived animals that have to be appropriately bred; otherwise, they might die sooner.

6. Tsigai Sheep Breed

Tsigai originates from Asia and is a Hungarian sheep breed; it came to Hungary in the 18th century. Tsigai is mostly bred for its tender meat, milk, and soft wool.

Tsigai are small-sized animals with an average weight of about. There are two different breeds of Tsigai one is native or old Tsigai, which is a dual-purpose breed used for its wool and milk, whereas the other one domestic Tsigai is used for the production of milk.

Tsigai only reproduces once a year during a specific time.


  • Tsigai has adequate milking capacity. It can produce 110-120 liters of milk during its milking phase.
  • They are docile and need less labor.
  • Their fine quality wool makes them suitable for commercial purposes.


  • Tsigai is well suited for low lands, and freezing temperatures may not be favorable for their breeding.

7. Hampshire Sheep

Hampshire Sheep
Jamain, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Hampshire, also known as Hampshire down, is a breed of sheep that mainly originates from the United Kingdom.

This breed is developed from crossbreeding. Hampshire sheep are prevalent animals as they produce fine quality wool. Hampshire produces meat, which is fatty and lean in texture and very much succulent in taste; therefore, it is exported from rest parts of the world due to its fantastic flavor. The average weight of a Hampshire varies from 91 – 120 kg.

They are thick in appearance as their wool never stops growing.


  • They have dual properties as they produce high-quality meat and wool.
  • Hampshire sheep are large sized animals with a fleece of about 2.7 to 4.5 kg.
  • Hampshire breeds experience long breeding seasons and can give births at multiple times during one year.
  • They can adapt to climatic changes quickly and can be bred in almost all climates.


  • They are very thick and need to be shorn more often else they could feel suffocation.

8. Suffolk Sheep

Suffolk Sheep
J gareth p at the English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Suffolk sheep breed is a native of British species, and it is a domestic breed.

They originated in the 18th century due to the cross-breeding of Norfolk Horn ewes and Southdown rams.

They are polled, black-faced breed and mostly used for its good quality meat.

The average weight is about 88 – 125 kg. Suffolk sheep are large-sized animals, and their fleece can weigh up to 2.3 to 3.6 kg.


  • Its wool is used for spinning and other craft purposes.
  • They are bred for meat, milk, and wool.
  • They are very versatile and adjust themselves in all kinds of weather conditions.


  • Suffolk sheep can’t tolerate every climate; they are bred in mostly native environments.
  • They are very liable to suffer from spider lamb syndrome; therefore, breeding requires more labor than other British breeds.

9. East Friesian Sheep

East Friesian Sheep
EwigLernender, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

East Friesian sheep originates from East Frisia in northern Germany; this breed belongs to a dairy sheep species.

They are considered to be one of the high yielding sheep in terms of milking.

During the milking phase, a ewe can produce 300-600 liters of milk. They are exported and bred in large numbers due to their economic nature.

East Friesian sheep’s most attractive feature is their tail, and its tail is often described as “Rattail” because of its thin and free of wool appearance. They are polled as they do not have horns.

They are large-sized animals, and their fleece weighs around 4-5 kg. They are massive animals as they have a muscular appearance and are very fertile, while the grown-up ewes are very productive.


  • They are bred mainly for milk and meat.
  • They can adapt to climatic changes very quickly and can be bred in most of the climates.
  • They are docile, which makes their breeding convenient and economical as well.
  • Due to their excellent milk-producing capacity, they are exported in most countries.


  • Their productivity is mostly dependent on age factor as, for instance, old and grown ewes are more fertile than young ewes.
  • They do not carry dual properties as they are primarily bred for milk.

10. Corriedale Sheep

Corriedale sheep were developed in Australia and New Zealand by cross-breeding and culling Merino, and Lincoln sheep both these breeds are highly productive.

The main aim behind this crossbreeding was to make a breed that can adapt to climatic changes quickly, such as lower rainfall areas. Corriedale sheep produce good quality meat and wool. They are large-sized animals with an attractive appearance.

Corriedale is polled and has a black nose and hooves. The average weight of the Corriedale Sheep varies from 59 – 125 kg. In research, it was found that, on average, a mature ewe can produce 4.5-7.7 kg wool; that’s quite a big range.


  • They have dual properties as they produce wool as well as good quality meat.
  • They are exported and bred almost in all parts of the world to adapt to all climates.
  • They are known for their large quality of wool yielding capacity.


  • They require high maintenance and need to be fed properly.
  • They have delicate bones, which makes them entirely liable for any significant injury.

Final Thoughts

It is believed that sheep meat has a variety of benefits. One such is that it keeps the body warm in high altitudes, and it has an ample amount of protein.

Moreover, it contains many vitamins and minerals such as iron, zinc, and vitamin B12 that are incredibly beneficial for humans.