A rare, century-old breed of sheep from New Mexico has returned from the brink


Don Chavez, a rancher near Albuquerque, New Mexico, has a different mission from most sheep ranchers. He doesn’t just want his sheep to be profitable, he wants them to be famous, KOB News reports.

When the Spaniard Francisco VÁ¡zquez de Coronado made his two-year journey from Mexico to Kansas in 1540, he brought sheep with him for the trip. They were not normal sheep, but a robust breed, with huge horns on the males and small horns on the females. Their fur was different from the vast majority of other sheep. The breed eventually became known as the New Mexico Dahl Sheep.

Even though sheep are large, sturdy, and easy to raise, the Dahl quickly fell out of favor with New Mexico breeders as they are what is known as a “furry sheep” as opposed to the “wool sheep”. more common. The fur of a furry sheep grows straight and soft, not as dense as that of a woolen sheep, and it also naturally stops growing. It’s not very good for fiber, but according to Chavez it’s a great sheep for breeding and meat.

Chavez noticed, when buying his own sheep, that some farmers were offering these strange, straight-haired sheep for sale. Invariably, they were collected from the wild. Chavez began buying and breeding them to showcase their qualities closest to Dahl, and in 25 years he created a herd very close to what Coronado must have had with him almost 500 years ago. . The breed is excellent at breeding for meat, and their size means that milk production is also quite high – aside from their historical value, they are worth breeding even without the ability to shear them for wool. Chavez is even trying to gain Dahl recognition from New Mexico as an official state heritage breed of cattle. And why not? It has certainly been around for quite a long time.

Image: screenshot from KOB video


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