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The Jacob is a primitive, domestic breed of sheep, displaying many traits of wild breeds that permit survival in untended flocks. . It's a small to medium sheep with dense, fine bones.  Ja­ cobs mature sexually very early, but may not reach adult size until the second year.  These sheep are smart, having a brain that is eight percent larger than other domestic sheep.  They are relatively disease and parasite resistant.  The ewes give birth easily, and often as yearlings. Ewes are excellent mothers and have a strong bonding instinct.  The lambs are on their feet and nursing shortly after birth.  Jacobs frequently have twins and triplets.  Rams mature sexu­ ally between three to five months of age.  Though protective, they are not usually aggressive toward the flock, and many people leave the ram with the ewes year round.  Jacobs exhibit a loose flocking instinct, preferring to be led rather than herded.  Jacobs show great adaptability to many climates and weather conditions.  Jacob wool is sought after by hand spinners be­ cause of its range of softness, springy loft, and color possibilities.  Jacob meat is lean with a delicious, non-gamey taste.  The Jacob sheep is ideal for the small landowner or homesteader.


General Appearance


The Jacob is a small, horned, piebald sheep with breed specific markings (areas of black color).  It is a breed valued mainly for its wool, though the meat has great appeal as well.  A Jacob sheep's appearance is that of a white sheep with black markings, though genetically, it is the opposite that is true.  There is a wide variation in the ratio of white to black wool on each sheep. Quite goat-like, Jacobs are lean, agile, up-headed and fine boned.


Body Color and Fleece


Jacobs appear to be white with black spots or patches.  (Lilac, or gray, is also a color).  These areas of wool are clear and distinct, but mottling and freckling do occur.  The skin beneath white wool is pink, and beneath black wool is black.  Sun bleaching may occur on the tips of the dark wool.




Breed specific markings occur on the muzzle, around the eyes, the ears, the nape of the neck (often reaching to the shoulders), the knees, the hocks, the pasterns and the scrotum or udder. Random spots occur on the rest of the body.  Not all these markings are on every sheep, but enough need to be present for clear identification.  Jacobs generally have a white chest from under the brisket to the throatlatch.  Random spotting occurs on the rest of the body.


Jacobs exhibit a great variation in wool quality and fineness, as a result of their primitive nature. The Bradford count (or grade of fineness) is 44 to 56. The micron count, which is a different measurement, would correspond with a range from  34.40-36.9  (44)  and 26.40-27.84  (56). This is one of the largest recognized ranges of any wool breed. Jacobs carry an open fleece (the wool parts easily to the skin) with little grease, or lanolin. Crimp and wool quality may vary over the body of the animal, often "running out at the britch," where spinning quality may be comparatively less.  Fleeces weigh from 2-5 pounds and have a staple length of 3-7 inches.


Head and Horns


The Jacob is always a horned sheep in both sexes.  It is a multiple horned breed (polycerate), usually having two or four horns.  Horns are black or black and white striped; never all white. Horn patterns vary, but in a two-horned sheep, the horns sweep back and around the cheek area clearing the jaw.  There may be a double curl.  Four horned sheep have two side horns curving along the side of the head and two on the top of the head.  These may be vertical or curved.  Horns must not be configured so that they pose a threat to the animal's wellbeing.  The Jacob Sheep Conservancy does not accept for registration polled sheep, those with scurs, or sheep with horns too small to be readily visible.


The Jacob head is small, roughly triangular and not coarse.  They are clean faced with no wool forward of the horns.  Breed specific markings include black eye patches, black muzzles and black ears.  The black face markings may be slight or large patches that run together, leaving only a white poll and white blaze down to the black muzzle.  The poll is always white.


Ears are small to medium in size, held slightly above the horizontal, and are never large, pen­ dulous, or erect.


Legs, Tail and Hooves


Legs are fine boned and free of wool.  Legs are white with specific breed markings on the knees, hocks and pasterns.  Random spots occur.  Legs may also be white.


At birth, the tail reaches about to the hock.  Jacob tails may be docked. Hooves are generally black or black and white striped.


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