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Top 11 Miniature and Small Sheep Breeds for Small Farms and Homesteads

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Are you dreaming of a flock of sheep that will fit perfectly on your pretty and petite pasture? Maybe you want the myriad benefits of sheep raising – but you don’t have a large homestead? Then consider these small sheep breeds!

Today we shall dive into several miniature and small sheep breeds tailor-made for small-scale farming. These pint-sized powerhouses not only look adorable, but they also bring many benefits to your farmstead.

Sound good?

Then let’s explore these mini sheep in more detail!

Top 11 Miniature and Small Sheep Breeds for Small Farms

Whether you’re a seasoned shepherd or just starting your farming journey, our compact cutie sheep breeds will steal your heart and prove that good things come in small packages.

So, get ready to meet some of the most charming and charismatic small sheep breeds that will make your homestead the talk of the town!

Let’s get right to it!

1. Ouessant Sheep

two black ushant sheep foraging on a small farm
We’re kickstarting our list of small sheep breeds with some undeniable beauties. Ouessant sheep! Ouessant sheep are a lovely French sheep breed perfect for carpet wool. Ouessant sheep also get called Ushant sheep – and most specimens we see are black. However, white, brown, and variant-colored Ushant sheep also exist.
Description:Usually black or dark brown wool. White specimens also exist. Ouessant rams have large horns.
Use:Wool.
Ewe Weight:35 to 50 pounds.
Ram Weight:50 to 70 pounds.
Society:Ouessant Sheep Society
Ouessant Sheep Profile

Ouessant Sheep, hailing from the tiny Ouessant Island in France, are the smallest breed of sheep in the world. (The smallest naturally occurring, that is.) Ewes typically weigh between 35 and 50 pounds, while rams weigh around 50 to 70 pounds – less than the average Labrador Retriever! These friendly sheep stand just 18 inches tall at the shoulder, and the rams often boast an impressive set of curled horns.

Despite their small stature, Ouessant sheep are robust and can withstand harsh weather conditions. They are highly adaptable and require minimal grazing space, making them suitable for small-scale farming with limited land availability. This miniature sheep breed is ideal for a combination of wool and meat production, with their fine fleeces prized for their softness and versatility.

2. Shetland Sheep

an adorable flock of shetland sheep posing in front of a rustic barn
Shetland sheep are excellent small sheep breeds known for small body size and docile dispositions, and high intelligence. Shetlands also have lovely, soft, high-quality wool. You can find Shetland sheep officially listed within the Livestock Conservancy. But thankfully, their status is recovering, and they are no longer endangered. Consider raising one of these majestic sheep to help them gain even more prominence! (They’re worth the effort.)
Description:Double or single-coated. Colors vary from white, brown, grey, maroon, and black to whitish-grey.
Use:Meat, wool, and lawnmowing.
Ewe Weight:70 and 100 pounds.
Ram Weight:90 to 125 pounds.
Society:North American Shetland Sheepbreeder’s Association
Shetland Sheep Profile

Shetland sheep are a charming small breed named after their place of origin, the Shetland Islands in Scotland. These islands are famous for their rugged and inhospitable environment, and Shetland sheep are known for their ability to thrive in challenging conditions.

With ewes weighing between 70 and 100 pounds, and rams weighing around 90 to 125 pounds, Shetland sheep are considerably smaller than most commercially-reared sheep breeds. One of their notable features is their soft, fine wool, which comes in a wide range of colors, including solid and patterned variations. Their gentle temperament and easy handling increase their appeal as an ideal choice for small farms.

Shetland sheep produce valuable fleece. Shetlands also make excellent grazers, efficiently utilizing available pasture. Their lovey fleece and grazing skills, combined with their small size, means Shetlands require less grazing space than larger breeds. So, if your grazing space is limited, a small flock of Shetland sheep may be the perfect solution to your problem!

3. Harlequin Sheep

lovely harlequin sheep with colorful face standing on a small farm
Harlequin sheep are one of the most adorable sheep in existence. And they’re also surprisingly rare! We couldn’t find many good photos of them – or much about their personalities. However, they’re undeniably small sheep with lovely white, brown, tan, and gray wool.
Description:A tiny breed with a lovely variance of wool colors – including tan, white, cocoa brown, and gray. 
Use:Wool and family pet.
Ewe Weight:120 to 160 pounds.
Ram Weight:180 to 220 pounds.
Society:The Harlequin Sheep Society
Harlequin Sheep Profile

A relatively new addition to the sheep world, the Harlequin is a visually captivating breed with striking and unique coat markings. Their wool comes in various colors and patterns, which create a range of beautifully variegated yarns and products.

This domestic sheep breed is docile and easy to handle, making them an ideal choice for novice sheep farmers. The ewes weigh 120 to 160 pounds, and the rams 180 to 220 pounds, so they shouldn’t give you much trouble when you need to do anything with them.

Not only is the wool of Harlequin sheep highly sought after, but they are also a good option for meat production. If you’ve got an area of good-quality grazing land, a flock of these perfectly-patterned sheep would make a great addition to your homestead.

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4. Babydoll Southdown Sheep

hungry southdown sheep grazing in the nice summer weather
Babydoll Southdown sheep are arguably the best pet candidates of all small sheep breeds. They produce lovely cashmere wool that’s easy to spin. And their nature is kind, docile, and friendly. They’re perfect for gardeners, farmers, and ranchers. They will always happily help to remove weeds from your homestead. They also get along with other livestock animals without quibbling or squabbling. That said – finding detailed information about Babydoll Southdown sheep is surprisingly tricky.
Description:Babydoll Southdown sheep are some of the tiniest on our list. Many colors exist – black, white, and spotted.
Use:Wool and family pet.
Ewe Weight:80 to 100 pounds.
Ram Weight:100 to 140 pounds.
Society:Olde English Babydoll Southdown Sheep Registry
Babydoll Sheep Profile

The Babydoll Southdown sheep is based on the ancient English Southdown sheep breed but bred specifically for its diminutive size. Their endearing teddy bear-like appearance and gentle disposition make them popular options for small farms and homesteaders. Babydoll Southdown sheep also require less grazing space compared to larger breeds, making them manageable for small-scale operations.

With ewes weighing between 80 and 100 pounds and rams around 100 to 140 pounds, this sheep breed is one of the few true miniature breeds of the sheep world. They usually aren’t reared for commercial purposes. But when kept as pet sheep, they make excellent natural lawnmowers and delightful companions.

Many homesteaders choose to keep these Babydoll Southdown sheep to graze under fruit trees, helping to reduce the need for mechanical mowing. Their short, dense wool is great for felting or can add texture to finer sheep wools such as angora. When butchered, these sheep produce tasty cuts of meat that can be surprisingly large considering their diminutive size.

5. Clun Forest Sheep

impressive clun forest ram exploring small homestead farm
Clun Forest sheep are likely among the most adaptable small to medium-sized sheep breeds. They’re known for their rich, dark faces, upright ears, excellent foraging abilities, adaptability, and easy lambing. They’re also a well-rounded farmyard companion suitable for wool, milk, and meat. They’re perfect for small ranches and homesteads.
Description:Long, dark brown or black faces. Their body wool is usually white or gray. They are hornless.
Use:Meat, milk, and wool.
Ewe Weight:130 to 180 pounds.
Ram Weight:180 to 250 pounds.
Society:The North American Clun Forest Association
Clun Sheep Profile

Clun Forest sheep, named after the region in central England where they originated, is a compact sheep breed that has gained popularity for their hardiness and versatility. These sheep are famous for their adaptability to different environments and ability to thrive in challenging conditions. Clun Forest sheep are also excellent foragers, utilizing pasture efficiently and thriving on poor-quality grazing land.

The breed is favored for meat and wool production, as their dense, fine fleece holds value in the textile industry. Their smaller size makes them easier to handle, with ewes typically weighing between 130 and 180 pounds and rams around 180 to 250 pounds. They are also docile, making them a good choice for novice sheep farmers.

Clun Forest sheep could be a good option if you are interested in a sheep breeding venture. The female sheep have excellent maternal instincts. They are reliable mothers and have few problems at lambing time. The milk of Clun Forest ewes is markedly high in butterfat, making it a popular choice for cheese making.

6. Kerry Hill Sheep

small sheep herd exploring rural countryside road
Kerry Hill sheep come from Wales and are one of the easiest small sheep breeds to recognize. They are hornless (polled) with white faces and black markings around their legs, eyes, noses, mouths, and ears. They’re generally attractive sheep with thick, robust coats. Even though their coats are super-thick, they’re also surprisingly soft – arguably more than other British breeds.
Description:White with black markings around eyes, ears, mouth, nose, and legs.
Use:Meat, wool.
Ewe Weight:150 to 180 pounds.
Ram Weight:200 to 250 pounds.
Society:Kerry Hill Sheep Society
Kerry Hill Sheep Profile

Originating from the picturesque Kerry Hills region that spans the border between Wales and England, Kerry Hill sheep are a popular breed that ticks all the boxes regarding beauty and practicality. Kerry Hill sheep’s clean white bodies, striking black faces, and leg markings will invariably add visual appeal to your homestead.

Not only are these sheep easy to look at, but they are also highly regarded for their docile temperament and adaptability to various climates.

Ranchers primarily raise Kerry Hill sheep for their high-quality meat, which is lean, tender, and flavorful. Ewes typically weigh between 150 and 180 pounds, while rams weigh around 200 to 250 pounds. They are robust grazers, efficiently utilizing available pasture, and produce good quality meat lambs when crossed with lowland sheep breeds such as the Dorset Down.

7. Soay Sheep

cute and shaggy soay sheep on a rural farm
Look at this handsome devil. It’s a Soay sheep! Soay sheep are a beautiful, ancient, small sheep breed that is smaller – but hardier – than many modern-day domesticated sheep. These sheep are famous for being markedly resilient and self-reliant. The Livestock Conservancy lists these tougher-than-nail sheep breeds as threatened. So, consider adding some to your flock to help their numbers swell.
Description:Ewes can be horned or hornless. Males are usually horned. Their wool ranges from black to light brown.
Use:Fiber and meat.
Ewe Weight:50 to 90 pounds.
Ram Weight:90 to 140 pounds.
Society:The Soay and Boreray Sheep Society
Soay Sheep Profile

Native to the remote St. Kilda archipelago in Scotland, Soay sheep are renowned for their primitive characteristics, closely resembling their wild ancestors. They exhibit natural hardiness, self-sufficiency, and agility, giving them a remarkable ability to adapt and thrive in challenging environments.

With ewes weighing between 50 and 90 pounds and rams around 90 to 140 pounds, these are the perfect sheep for conservation grazing, as they can efficiently maintain and manage natural landscapes. They are also famous for their appetite for rough grasses and scrubland, which most other sheep breeds will refuse to eat.

If you are interested in wool-making, the fleece of Soay Sheep displays a range of earthy colors. However, these sheep shed their thick fleece coats naturally in the spring, which is excellent news for those who find sheep shearing a relentless chore!

Read More!

8. Jacob Sheep

two mightily horned jacob sheep standing in a field
Here’s a small sheep breed that reminds us of Holstein cows. Jacob sheep! Jacob sheep are adorable piebald sheep with many horns. Some Jacob sheep can have up to six horns – making them one of the gnarliest small sheep breeds. Most farmers and sheep ranchers agree that Jacob sheep are a British breed – but their exact origins are unclear. (Their murky history makes them even more intriguing.)
Description:Anywhere from two to six horns. White with black spotted wool – or sometimes, light brown lilac.
Use:Wool and sometimes meat.
Ewe Weight:100 to 120 pounds.
Ram Weight:120 to 180 pounds.
Society:Jacob Sheep Breeders Association
Jacob Sheep Profile

With origins tracing back to ancient times in the Middle East, Jacob sheep have long been famous for their striking appearance and versatility. Their unique coat pattern, typically white fleece with dark patches, creates a visually captivating display that gives a range of natural colors when spun for wool.

Jacob sheep are not just ornamental but are also commonly kept for both meat and wool production. The ewes weigh 100 to 120 pounds. The rams are approximately 120 to 180 pounds. They are highly adaptable to various climates and terrains, making them suitable for small farms in different regions.

9. Icelandic Sheep

lovely icelandic sheep herd grazing in the natural mountain meadow
Icelandic sheep aren’t the tiniest specimens on our small sheep breed list – nor are they the most docile. They are strong individualists with a double coat, perfect for helping them survive cold, snowy weather. They’re famous for their delicious meat in modern times. However, they were once popular milking animals suitable for yummy and ample dairy.
Description:Wool colors vary, including bright snowy white, black, gray, or brown. Mouflon varieties also exist.
Use:Wool, meat, and historically, milk.
Ewe Weight:110 to 150 pounds.
Ram Weight:180 to 220 pounds.
Society:Icelandic Sheep Breeders of North America
Icelandic Sheep Profile

Originating from the rugged landscapes of Iceland, it will come as no surprise to learn that Icelandic sheep are renowned for their adaptability and resilience in harsh climates. They possess a double-layered fleece with a coarse outer layer and a fine, insulating underlayer, enabling them to withstand extreme weather conditions.

Icelandic sheep offer various benefits to homesteaders, including meat, wool, and milk production. Their wool coats are highly prized, coming in myriad natural colors and possessing excellent insulation properties. They are small enough to handle easily, with ewes weighing around 110 to 150 pounds and rams 180 to 220 pounds.

10. Cheviot Sheep

white cheviot sheep posing for the camera
Cheviot sheep are a beautiful and striking small sheep breed. The breed originated in the Cheviot Hills – bordering Scotland and England – where the weather is often rainy, windy, and dreary. Developing in those harsh conditions helped turn Cheviot sheep into a surprisingly robust breed – they are easily one of the hardier breeds on our small sheep breeds list. The lambs are strong, alert, and active.
Description:Famous for a lovely white face that’s absent of wool. Their legs are also woolless. Black feet and muzzle.
Use:Meat and wool.
Ewe Weight:120 to 160 pounds.
Ram Weight:180 to 250 pounds.
Society:American Cheviot Sheep Society
Cheviot Sheep Profile

Hailing from the picturesque Cheviot Hills, which join England and Scotland, Cheviot sheep are a petite breed highly regarded for their robustness and adaptability. This breed is popular with sheep breeders, as they have a strong mothering instinct and few lambing problems. Their sturdy build means they will thrive in extremes of hot, cold, or wet weather, even on poor-quality grazing.

Cheviot ewes generally weigh between 120 and 160 pounds, while rams typically weigh around 180 to 250 pounds. They are primarily raised for meat production, as their well-muscled frames contribute to flavorful cuts of meat. Their coarser wool is perfect for mixing with soft wool for durability and thickness.

This sheep breed is perhaps not as docile as others on our list. Their contentious and lively nature may keep you on your toes! Their rugged nature and strong disease resistance give them the edge for thriving in harsh environments.

11. Welsh Mountain Sheep

rugged welsh mountain sheep exploring and foraging in the field
We’re concluding our list of small sheep breeds with another hardy breed. We’re talking about Welsh Mountain sheep! They have lovely thick wool fleeces, are adapt grazers, and have reputations for their high economy.
Description:Usually entirely white. Much of the face is woolless – especially the forehead. Some males have horns.
Use:Meat and wool.
Ewe Weight:120 to 150 pounds.
Ram Weight:150 to 200 pounds.
Society:Welsh Mountain Sheep Society
Welsh Mountain Sheep Profile

Welsh Mountain Sheep are a small breed highly regarded for their hardiness and adaptability. These sheep have thrived in the challenging Welsh landscapes for centuries and have developed excellent foraging abilities. And they are renowned for their ability to graze on rough pastures and efficiently use available resources. They have good disease resistance and require minimal intervention, making them ideal for low-input farming systems.

Welsh Mountain ewes typically weigh between 120 and 150 pounds, while rams weigh around 150 to 200 pounds. They are primarily valued for meat production, offering flavorful and succulent cuts. When sheared, their dense wool, though modest in quantity, provides excellent insulation and is commonly used for making cloth.

Conclusion

Thanks for reading our guide about the best miniature and small sheep breeds for your backyard homestead.

We hope you enjoyed brainstorming these adorable micro sheep breeds with us.

Which small sheep breeds are your favorite? Or maybe we overlooked a small sheep variety?

We’d love to hear your thoughts in any case.

Thanks again for reading.

And have a beautiful day!

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