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Author Topic: Jacobs - any tips  (Read 1114 times)


  • Joined Feb 2017
  • High Peak
Jacobs - any tips
« on: July 19, 2019, 11:59:02 am »
Hi all at the advice of a farmer friend of ours we are changing our flock over from Coloured Ryeland to Jacobs. The reasoning is we want a flock thatís a) pedigree b) doesnít need as much pampering as Ryelands c) looks good on the farm for our holiday let guests and d) produces a leaner but meaty carcass as we sell to locals. Iíve just found Ryeland meat too fatty. To ensure that we can also sell live lambs I do want to start with some pedigree registered animals. My question - any tips as to what to look for when buying and what to avoid? Eg I read somewhere to avoid pink noses? ? Any thoughts from those of you experienced with them. Thanks in advance


  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • ScotHebs
Re: Jacobs - any tips
« Reply #1 on: July 19, 2019, 12:45:59 pm »
Jacobs are sooo beautiful and stately, especially the multi-horned type, and the meat is delicious. The gigots are longer than average sheep, and less rounded, but contain as much meat.  The lambs are the cutest ever as babies leaping around the place, and can be sent for slaughter by November usually from an April lambing. They make exquisite sheepskins, which can be sold at a premium to your holiday let guests.

My knowledge is a bit rusty as we haven't kept Jacobs for about 10 years now (too big for oldies to handle!)
The pink nose business is to do with the possible influx of blood from other breeds many years ago, and this is thought to be a relic of that, the implication being that any Jacobs with pink noses are not pure bred. Quite honestly, genetics working as it does, the introduced blood will be so mixed into the national flock by now, that it's inescapable, irrelevant and so diluted that it doesn't count.  However, if you want to show your sheep, old ideas die hard, so pink noses are marked down.
Another 'fault' to look out for is 'harlequin' fleece.  This is where the black areas (not spots as Jacobs are black sheep with white areas, not white sheep with black spots) are slightly coarser than the white, so less crimpy and overall they stand a little proud of the white fleece. As well as being unpopular with judges, this is not ideal if you are selling fleeces, again to your holiday let guests, or wherever, as most spinners would want to separate the two colours but would expect they would spin up the same, whereas if one area is coarser than the other, they will be unable to do so. As an aside, many Jacob fleeces are, or at least ten years ago were, rather coarse overall, as fleece quality has not been of major concern to breeders.  Better quality fleeces are out there though, so look at the parents if you are buying lambs, to get an idea of how they will develop.  A roughly 60:40% distribution of white:black is preferred, with the black more to the front. Horns should be black, but often have white stripes, which polish up beautifully into jewellery, buttons etc, if you have the patience for it, or large old tup horns can be made into sticks and crooks.

My personal preference is for multihorned Jacobs, and of course they would look spectacular in your setting.  With lambs it is too early to judge the potential hornset accurately as it goes on developing for the first couple of years.  However, avoid any multihorns which appear to be heading forwards or backwards, as they won't improve, and could eventually poke into the flesh of the face or neck.
Look out for SUED - Split Upper Eyelid Defect, which can still occur in multihorns, but not two horns. There is plenty written about this online, including on the Hebridean website, but tends to be a bit glossed over in Jacob circles as if it doesn't exist. Jacob lambs born with SUED are destined for the meat queue.

When choosing your lambs, look out for a good sheep first.  Having kept sheep already, you will know what a good sheep looks like, irrespective of breed, markings, hornset etc.  There is no point having an animal which is perfect for breed descriptions, but is not healthy and well proportioned.

For selling youngstock for breeding, it will take a while to get your name known, so don't expect high prices. Buy your stock from a recognised breeder with a good reputation and you are halfway there.

« Last Edit: July 19, 2019, 12:56:24 pm by Fleecewife »
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  • Joined Feb 2017
  • High Peak
Re: Jacobs - any tips
« Reply #2 on: July 20, 2019, 07:57:36 pm »
Thanks Fleecewife what a fantastically helpful answer!



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