St Croix Sheep

The St Croix sheep breed comes from the island of St Croix, one of the Virgin Islands and can be found on most of the islands. Originally used to breed their white coloring into other breeds, they are considered a meat breed. They are known, however, to be black or brown as well. They are thought to have come to the islands on slave ships from Africa, where one could imagine they were brought along for food.  So they at one time were an African sheep that must have developed form a cross of some sort. As many other African sheep they are a hair sheep. Meaning they do not produce wool. The hair falls off during the summer and returns in time for winter. One trait that you hear most often about the St Croix breed is that it has strong parasite resistance. Making it a perfect breed for tropical climates where warm wet weather is common. This breed is also polled, meaning they naturally have no horns. Solving the problem of injury or having to use a hot iron to burn out the horns while young.

The great majority of St. Croix sheep are white, a smaller amount range in colors of brown, brown, tan, black or white with brown or black spots. The averages most raising St Croix sheep experience are: Ewes average 150 pounds, while the Rams average 200 pounds. Lambs weigh at birth tend to be between 6-7 pounds. Another great aspect of this type of sheep is its quick turn around after lambing, which is only one month. Meaning in good years you can expect 2 lamb births. Each lambing one can expect 2-3 lambs. In some case more lambs are birthed. 

The meat of St Croix has a mild flavor and higher than average carcass weight due to its lower bone to meat ration. They tend to take longer than other breed to reach typical slaughter weights, since they have not been improved through selective breeding processes many other sheep have gone through.  

Across the globe, the hair sheep classification only comprises 10% of the entire population of sheep. Most sheep are breed for both meat and wool production. There are a number of sheep that are raised for meat, wool, and milk. These are rare, but are a homesteaders dream. A farm animal that can provide a number of outputs. These sheep thus far have not been available readily in the US. Most are in Europe and they milk of these sheep is highly valued. Since the subsidy for wool has been canceled, the desire to raise hair sheep has risen considerably. 

The ALBC has the St Croix listed as a threatened breed. A classification reserved for those sheep that have fewer than one thousand registered in any given year. I would suspect that the combination of the subsidy lapse and the increased focus on self sufficiency, this breed with all its wonderful qualities will be more prominent in future years.