Frequently Asked Questions about Jacob Sheep
- Wool, fiber
- How do I sell the wool?
- We get this question a lot. First off, you need to know what you've
got. Not all Jacob wool is the same. If your fibers are
harsh, kempy or badly contaminated with hay or dirt, you may have a
tough time finding a buyer. Selecting Jacobs bred specifically for
fleece quality will increase your likelihood of being able to sell
your wool at premium prices.
Handspinners are your best market, if your fleece meets their
standards. They will want to feel the fiber before buying, so be
prepared to send samples. You can also process your fleeces into
roving, yarn, or blankets. We use Ozark Carding Mill for our
roving, Blackberry Ridge for yarn. Several Jacob breeders have
sent wool to McCausland Woolen Mill and had them make blankets.
- Can I "reshape" horns that are growing in the wrong
- We have heard of people doing this but have never heard that it was
successful. In most cases, this is attempted with rams that have
forward-tipped horns. We discourage this sort of manipulation
because an animal with problematic horns will pass that along to his
offspring. Even if you could fix the horns, you can't change the
genes. With the number of Jacob rams now available, replicating
inferior horned Jacobs is a detriment to the breed.
- Can I trim the tips off horns that are growing into the face?
- We occasionally see this problem with the lower horns of 4-horn rams
curling into the cheek at 1 to 2 years. The tip of the horn is
just keratin - no blood supply or nerves. That can be trimmed,
just like you would trim your fingernails. Just like fingernails,
though, if you trim to deep, it'll hurt and bleed. Trim
- What tools do you trim with?
- We have had the most success with lopping shears - the kind you
would use to trim branches off of trees. They give you enough leverage
to quickly remove the tips. We have tried hack saws with less
success - they take a lot longer and the vibrations aren't very
pleasant for the animal. We have heard that surgical
"cable" saws work well but haven't used them ourselves.
- Can I trim a 2-horned rams horns that have curved too tightly to his
- This is a much more difficult situation that typically occurs
at 2 to 3 years in rams with insufficient "sweep" to their
horns. As the horn thickens, the curl grows too closely to the
jaw. The problem is that the portion of horn blocking the jaw is
quite thick and has a bone/blood core. Cutting the horn off before
that point would be a bloody mess and quite traumatic for the
ram. Some breeders report limited success with cutting a section
out of the length of the horn parallel to the horn's
growth. With the current excess of 2-horn rams in the Jacob
population, a better alternative may be to replace that ram with one
with a better horn sweep.
- Do you dehorn Jacobs?
- No. Jacob is a horned breed. Removing the horns would make the
- Where can I get a 6-horn ram?
- While 5 and 6 horn Jacobs do exist, they are not common and the
horns are not often well developed. The Jacob skull rarely has
enough room to support the 5th and 6th horns, so if they grow, they
are weak, scurs, or fused to the other horns.
- My ewe lambs' horns broke off. What do I do?
- This is not uncommon with 4-horn ewe lambs. In most cases,
the horn will grow back stronger. The break will bleed a bit, but
probably shouldn't be a big concern.
- What should I feed my Jacobs?
- That depends on what's available in your region. Like all
ruminants, Jacobs have certain nutritional requirements but those can
be met by any number of feeds. You should talk to your local
county extension office or nearby sheep breeders for specific
recommendations in your area.
- What do YOU feed YOUR Jacobs?
- We feed exclusively alfalfa, which is plentiful in our area and is
the most cost effective feed value in our region. Alfalfa
provides more than enough protein and energy, so we do not feed grain
of any sort. This works for us but may not be the right
combination for others. (See the previous question.) We
also provide free choice salt/mineral blend for sheep/goats.
- Sales practices
- Do you sell to "shooters"?
- We do not sell rams to "game ranches" for the purpose of
canned "hunts." Aside from the ethics of this
practice, we believe that the best horned Jacob rams should be used
for breeding, not shot and mounted on a wall.
- I just want some pretty lawnmowers. Do you have any cheap Jacobs?
- We often have wethers (neutered rams) that would make perfect
lawnmowers. In most years we wether any ram lambs that aren't
exceptional quality. These are generally available in May and
June. They make fine lawnmowers as long as you have adequate
fencing to keep them in and to keep dogs and other predators
out. Before taking on "lawnmowers," you should have a
plan for what you'll do when the grass runs out. While Jacobs
are adaptable, they will need some sort of feed in summer droughts and
- What does "registerable" mean?
- All Jacobs sold as breeding stock are registered or registerable.
Registerable means that the animal should pass all registration
requirements. In most cases, if an animal is not already
registered, we will send in the registration paperwork as part of the
sale. If for some unforeseen reason that animal fails the
registration, we will refund the purchase price less the market value
of grade sheep.
- Fences & other facilities
- What kind of fences work best for Jacobs?
- Sheep are among the most challenging animals to fence. No fence is
perfect, so you will need to balance effectiveness against cost.
Jacobs typically try to go under rather than over fences. The
are more intelligent than most sheep, so you should expect them to
challenge whatever fences you erect. In general, if you follow
the guidelines for fencing goats, you should be fine for Jacobs. We
use many different types of fence and haven't found the single best
- What sort of hay feeders do you use?
- Hay feeding is a challenge with wool breeds. You want to keep
the hay out of fleeces as much as possible, especially if you feed
alfalfa. Jacobs complicate matters because their horns can get
stuck in many types of feeders and cause a lot of wear on those that
do work. Our current favorite feeder is the "Hay
Saver" type which we make ourselves, modeled after a concept sold
by Carolina Homespun. These put the hay at a good level and
minimize the amount of wastage.
- Do you have a big barn?
- In the Pacific Northwest, we don't get much cold weather, so we are
able to make do with less shelter than in other areas. We have
one main barn and a set of open-sided sheds. We have also
experimented with a variety of other temporary shelters. We
strongly recommend setting up a "catch area" in a barn or
other shelter. This works best if you put your feeders in to an
enclosed area that you can shut down whenever you need to work with