East Friesian Sheep

What is the history of East Friesian Sheep?

This long established breed originated in the Friesland / Ost Friesland area in the north of Holland and Germany. It is one of the best sheep breeds in terms of milk yield per ewe.

In Europe the breed's main purpose is to produce milk. However, the breed is also used as a cross for other breeds to improve fecundity and milk production in non-dairy breeds of sheep.

In 1995 the first flock of East Friesians from Silverstream was registered. East Friesians were not introduced into North America until the 1990s, but since then, on account of their high milk yield, they have rapidly become the breed of choice among commercial sheep milk producers, although generally not in purebred form.

What are the characteristics of East Friesian Sheep?

  • The East Friesian produces roughly 300-600 litres of milk, over a 200- to 300-day lactation.
  • There are reports of individual animals with milk yield reaching 900 litres, counting the milk suckled by the lambs, as well as milking by machine.
  • They are not a very hardy or adaptable breed, but their cross-breeds can be.
  • Crossing them with the Awassi breed has been a notable success in Mediterranean or semiarid environments.
  • East Friesians crossed with the Lacaune breed have been a success in the Wisconsin environment.
  • In physical appearance, East Friesians sheep have pink noses and their heads and legs are clear of wool, thin-tailed.
  • Their heads are naturally polled.
  • They generally have pale hooves.
  • The most distinctive feature of an East Friesian is its tail, which is described as a "rat-tail" because it is thin and free of wool.
  • Elsewhere on their bodies they have white wool which is about 35-37 microns, with a staple length of 120–160 mm.
  • East Friesian fleece ranges from 4–5 kg.
  • There also exists a dark brown variation of East Frisians.

What is the weight of mature East Friesian Sheep?

East Friesian ram is in the range of 100–120 kg and a mature ewe 70–95 kg.

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