When breeding sheep wool direction is important to make the right choice of breed. Sheep Merino rightfully among the ten best types of wool direction. They have thin, soft, very pleasant to the touch wool, which is in great demand all over the world. Characteristics of the Merino, their qualities and disadvantages, the nuances of the content will be described below in the article.
The history of the breed Merino
Origin of Merino sheep from North Africa
The origin of the first Merino sheep goes back centuries. Approximately 2 thousand years ago, their ancestors lived in North Africa and Asia Minor. During the Arab conquests, they were transported to the Iberian Peninsula, where they fell in love with the beautiful wool and began to breed. It was Spain in the XII-XVI centuries that was the main supplier of sheep wool all over the world. She produced quality merino wool in huge quantities.Important! In the XII-XVI centuries, Merino sheep were bred and raised only in Spain. Removal of individuals from the country was strictly prohibited and punishable by death.
In 1723, after the removal of the ban on the export of Merino from Spain, these sheep were brought to Sweden and then to France. In 1788, the Merino hit Australia. Each of the countries that “caught” this species tried to improve its qualities (meat or wool), which led to the emergence of new subspecies. Therefore, today a single breed under this name does not exist. Merino is a whole group of rocks, distinguished by a thin, soft and high-quality fleece.
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Varieties of Merino
There are several subspecies of Merino in the world. For a better understanding of the features of the form, it is necessary to get acquainted with them.
- Australian Merino lives mostly in Australia. These sheep Merino is not very big, but with each sheep you can get up to 12 kg of wool!
- Electoral - a subspecies created by Spanish scientists. They give a very thin fleece, but, unfortunately, the sheep are very picky about the conditions and content.
- Negretti was obtained as a result of the work of German scientists. This type has folds on the skin, so they give more wool. However, the quality of wool in the subspecies is somewhat worse than that of the Australian Merino.
- Mazaevskaya breed was bred in the XIX century by Russian breeders Mazaevs (hence the name). Individuals are ideal for the Russian climate, transfer any vagaries of nature. Alas, to date, the animals of the subspecies have weak bones, so they must be carefully handled.
- Rambouillet - the result of the work of the French. These are healthy, hardy sheep with thin, long and thick hair.
- New Caucasian sheep were obtained by crossing the breed Ramboulet and Mazaevskaya. As a result, scientists have received strong individuals with thin and delicate fur.
- Soviet merino appeared after crossing the Novokavkazskaya sheep and Rambouillet. This species is popular in the Urals and in Western Siberia, as well as in the Volga region. Today it is often used to breed new breeds.
Breed Description and Benefits of Merino Sheep
Benefits of Merino Sheep
Whatever the subspecies of Merino sheep considered, you can find a lot of advantages in their content.
- Productivity depends directly on the subspecies, but it is always high, if you grow individuals in normal conditions.
- As a rule, Merino sheep are resistant to different climatic conditions if they have a warm, bright and dry barn, where they are kept.
- Wool is thin - 15-25 microns. Even considering the subspecies of the Negerti, one can see that its wool is thin in comparison with meat breeds, although worse than that of other Merino. Breeding is very beneficial from a material point of view, as their wool is highly valued.
- The average length of the coat is 8.5–9 cm for a ram and 7.5–8.5 cm for a sheep. It covers almost the entire body of the sheep. Open areas are just hooves, horns, nose. As you can see a lot of wool, it is believed that one Merino sheep can replace 2-3 simple sheep.
- These are beautiful, strong animals, with well developed bones and a stately appearance. The constitution is proportional. Sheep usually have spiral horns. The weight of an adult ram can reach 100-125 kg, and females - 45-55 kg.
- The taste of meat in sheep Merino, of course, inferior to meat breeds, but this does not mean that it is not tasty or has an unpleasant smell. It is very good, gentle, juicy. The reason why the Marinos are rarely allowed to be slaughtered is only because it seems wasteful from the point of view of the breeders who benefit most from their wool.
- These are big animals, and therefore it is fashionable to get a lot of meat from them, although it is desirable to lower young sheep for slaughter, as their meat is more tender.
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Quality merino wool
Merino wool is considered elite for many reasons. Below are described its advantages, distinctive qualities, which it stands out.
- Merino wool does not absorb odors (including sweat), but absorbs moisture, so things, bedding, blankets made from it, are in great demand, despite the high cost.
- Thin fibers make it very soft, soft, silky. She does not prick. Human hair is usually much thicker than a Merino villus.
- Such wool keeps warm in winter, so it is hard to freeze in such a sweater. In the summer, the material is well breathable, so it is not hot.
- The fabric made from merino sheep wool is elastic - it is 5 times more elastic than cotton thread. This is one of the reasons for its softness.
- Wool hair has springy curls that repel dirt. As a rule, such things are very easy to wash - the dirt is quickly washed away without leaving even light spots.
- Certain substances in the composition of Merino wool makes the material antibacterial, hygienic. It prevents the growth of bacteria and microorganisms.
- Merino wool is hypoallergenic. It does not cause allergies, irritations. It is recommended even for newborn babies.
- Such material is durable and resistant to long wearing. Even after years, he will maintain his beauty and quality characteristics.
- Merino wool is easy to dye.
Keeping and breeding Merino
If we talk about most of the subspecies Merino, then it is unpretentious animals. Electoral is considered the most fastidious, so they are bred on large farms, where breeders can afford to spend money on "royal" conditions for their favorite sheep. What does merino need for normal life?
- A warm room where they will be kept. The animal's coat protects them from the cold, so the heating can be avoided if there is good insulation of the walls. The main thing is that the room was not less than +5 degrees Celsius (more for Electoral).
- Places in the room where the sheep are kept should be enough. Crush, stuffiness and lack of free space will not lead to anything good. The shed is divided into separate stalls for rams, females, and only those who gave birth to females with young stock.
- Dryness, cleanliness, lack of drafts - what is necessary to avoid diseases, infections, pests, dampness, mold on the walls and deterioration of animal hair.
- Proper feeding. Merino sheep need to eat well to be active and healthy. In the diet necessarily include vitamin supplements.
- Walking is desirable in the warm season. Walking has a good effect on health, appearance, the gastrointestinal tract of animals, and reproductive function. Therefore you should take care of the presence of a large field or meadow near the stall.
- Wool does not need much care, but it is worth monitoring its condition. In case of any problems (significant contamination, loss of hair, bloody stains), you should immediately conduct an inspection, call the veterinarian and take appropriate measures.
- Regardless of the state of animals, 1-2 times a year you need to call a veterinarian for their examination, especially if wool and meat are sold.
- 1-2 times a year, you need to cut the hair so that it does not interfere with the sheep and sheep. This is always done in a warm season, so that the sheep do not freeze in the winter without wool - this is very dangerous for their health and life.
These are, in general, all the most important points of maintenance and care. And although it seems that everything is quite simple, in fact, in the first year of breeding a breeder may face a lot of unpleasant surprises. However, all the work will pay for itself, even if you have to hire people to help care for animals. The main thing is to get a handle and adjust the work in the household, then there will be much less problems.
Business on Merino sheep
Merino sheep are incredibly beneficial in breeding. They are kept both for their own needs and for commercial purposes. Business on Merino is easy to build, because individuals give very tasty meat, a lot of young sheep and lamb (you can also sell), but the main thing is excellent wool, which is highly valued and always in demand. So, what is Merino wool used for? From it do:
- home textiles (blankets, pillows, blankets, bed linen).
- hats, gloves, socks;
- underwear for adults and children;
- thermal underwear;
- casual clothes for babies, adults, etc.
As mentioned above, Merino sheep give elite wool and therefore the price for it is appropriate. One skein of yarn (50 g) costs between $ 13 and $ 15, a plaid will cost $ 45-260, and a good sweater will cost about $ 140. But this quality is worth the money spent, because besides the practicality of such things they are distinguished by their durability - they pay off in full.