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Gulf Coast Native Sheep

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Gulf Coast Native Sheep are the oldest known breed in North America.  They are indigenous to the southern portion of Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, all of Florida, and the gulf coast of Louisiana and Texas. They are considered an 'unimproved' scrub breed.  This breed is sometimes referred to as piney-woods sheep, southern or Spanish scrub. Today there are few flocks left in Georgia. 

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Our flock of Gulf Coast Native ewes
Our Sheep
The bloodlines of our flock have been in my husbands' south Georgia family since the late 1800s. Our sheep are small to medium in size with the ewes weighing around 80-100 pounds when fully grown.  They contain little to no wool on their face, legs or belly.  Our rams sport beautiful horns.  Half of the ewes have horns as well.  The wool is medium in handle and does not contain any kemp.  Each sheep produces 1-3 pounds of wool.  It is light on the lanolin therefore there is little weight loss when washed.
 
Our management
Our management practices fall under the category of traditional pasture management.  We allow multiple rams to run with the ewes so breeding is non-selective.  We do select the ram lamb replacements for strong and open horns, twinning, and beautiful wool (after all I am a hand spinner!).  Gulf Coast Native sheep are a hardy breed uniquely suited to the hot, humid south-east.  To ensure that we do not compromise the hardiness of the flock, we are careful not to interfere with the natural process.  All lambs are pasture born and raised.  Because the GCN have rather short tails there is no need to dock them.  We do not cross-breed with 'improved' sheep breeds.
 
We maintain biosecurity on the farm.  All our breeding sheep remain on the farm their entire life.  The flock does not suffer from any common sheep diseases:  CL, OPP, or footrot. 
 
Parasite control
There are claims that this breed is 'parasite resistant'.  That may have been true in the 1800s when 2-3 sheep were kept per many acre and most were allowed to range many hundreds of acres.  We have not found this to be so in the specific confined environment of our Covington farm.  We use pasture rotation in combination with deworming so the sheep can thrive. 
 
History of the breed
The scrub sheep found in the south are loosely divided into two types: the English scrub, descended from the sheep brought in by the early settlers from Tennessee, Virginia and South Carolina, and the 'piney woods' sheep, thought to be descendants from the Spanish sheep of northern and western Florida and southern Alabama. The English scrub was subject to improvements through crossbreeding with more productive wool breeds such as the Merino as early as 1811. The southern scrub seemed to thrive better when left alone.
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Three of this years lambs

History of the Gulf Coast Native Sheep
 This breed has a 325 year history in the United States. 
Why the 'southern scrub' or Gulf Coast Native Sheep was important to the early settlers
 
 

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