Gulf Coast Native Sheep
The most recent addition to our farm is three Gulf Coast Native ewes. We fell in love with the springy softness of their fiber, and their wonderful ability to thrive in our hot humid climate. The GCN is a heritage breed on the critical list of the Livestock Conservancy.
They lack wool on their faces, legs and bellies - an adaptation to the heat and humidity of the south. Otherwise, they tend to vary in physical appearance. Variability has resulted from the isolation of different strains of the breed. Most sheep are white, but blacks and browns also occur. Some may have spotted faces like our girls, or spotted legs. Most rams, and some ewes are horned, although both sexes may also be polled. GCN vary in size. Rams typcially weigh 125-200 pounds, and ewes range from 90-160 pounds.
GCN ewes breed and lamb year round. They make excellent mothers, pasture lambing without assistance. Single births are typical, but sometimes they have twins. Lambs are vigorous and grow rapidly. They have well documented resistance to gut parasites, foot rot, and other diseases that are common with sheep.
GCN fiber is a delight to hand spin. Its softness makes it wonderful for next to skin projects like sweaters, scarves, and blankets. Fleece weights range from 4-6 pounds. Average fiber diameter is 26-32 microns. Fleeces are usually soft, open, low grease, wavy to crimpy and 2.5 to 4.0 inches staple length. The fiber also felts really well for making hats or fabric.
While we have yet to eat any of our sheep, GCN that are raised on mothers milk and pasture are lean and succulent. Carcass weights are light with little waste. The meat is said to be delightfully mild and can be prepared in many ways.