Friday, May 11, 2012

Altay Sheep

Altay Sheep Ewe
When we think of sheep, we often imagine domesticated animals that are kept and bred for their wool, not for their meat. Such is not the case for today's breed, which was developed in the dry, cold, mountainous regions of China not for their wool, but for both its meat and fat. (They are sheared, but wool is a secondary purpose.)

Altay Sheep belong to the "fat-rumped carpet wool" type. And that pretty much means exactly what it sounds like. They have dense, carpet-like wool and exceptionally fatty rumps, which is great for the sheep and for their herders, as they both use those fat stores to survive. The sheep use the fat reserves to live during the harsh, vegetation sparse winter months, and the herders use that same fat for fuel.

As you might guess, the breed is very hardy and adaptable, and is able to survive well in the rough conditions that it was bred into. They even typically give birth to just one lamb at a time, which suits them best in conditions that only allow them to eat for a few months of the year!

Status : Domesticated
Location : China
Size : Height up to 29in (76cm), Weight up to 175lbs (80kg)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Mammalia -- Order : Artiodactyla
Family : Bovidae -- Genus : Ovis -- Species : O. aries

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