When people think about raising livestock in the Llano Estacado region, their first thought is usually of cattle grazing the plains. But they might be surprised to find that raising sheep is also gaining currency on the Staked Plains. One breed in particular that is beginning to make a mark is the Texas Dall.
The first Texas Dalls were first called Snow Sheep and were the results of accidental matings between Mouflon Ewes and Horned Rambouilet Rams in the 1900s. Since that time, the breed has grown in its popularity.
Dall sheep are marked by their snowy white coat and bright pink nose and lips. The breed has few other colors or markings. The more pure the white of the animal’s coat, the more likely they are to sell. The males are marked by beautiful horns that can sometimes way up to 30 lbs. While the females can have horns as well, they will not be as large as those of the males.
Like most species of horned sheep, Dalls are incredibly hardy. For the most part, they have a mild temperament, but the males are very aggressive with one another. The females make excellent mothers and are incredibly fertile, often producing twins, triplets, and the occasional set of quadruplets. Because they are so fertile, they are able to breed in almost every season of the year. Experts suggest separating the males and females if you want to slow down the number of offspring you have.
While raising cattle might seem to be a more lucrative market, raising sheep has some distinct advantages. Because sheep are so hardy, they’re well suited to the conditions of the Llano Estacado climate. If the weather is not too extreme, they can go a day or two without water. Their wool coat (and how easily it is shed in warmer temperatures), makes them able to withstand the harsh extremes that come with our weather—both hot and cold.
Unlike cattle, sheep do not require large acreages for grazing. This means that they can serve as a “lawnmower” for grasslands and help trim fence lines without requiring additional hay or grain. Just like cattle, they can be raised for meat or milk, and they have the added benefit of being an animal of sport for hunters (providing a source of income if necessary). Due to their high fertility, it is easy to sell the offspring and continue to build your own flock.