Domesticated sheep originated from wild animals endemic to the dry, cool regions of Europe and Asia. With their thick wool and vulnerability to parasites, in their original form they are poor prospects for life in the hot and humid Southeast United States. But, in the 1500s Spanish explorers released European domesticated sheep into the New World in the hope of growing a food supply for their expeditions. Most of the sheep died, but a few hardy survivors adapted to the heat and parasites. Gulf Coast native sheep are the results of this remorseless natural selection.
Gulf Coast natives possess an attribute unique among sheep: They produce a natural insecticide in their intestines that prevents intestinal worms that would soon kill any other breed of sheep. No sheep other than a Gulf Coast native could survive without ongoing veterinary attention in the forests of the South. Yet, Gulf Coast natives are virtually indestructible in this environment. They have also adapted by losing wool growth on their bellies and face, allowing them to dissipate heat faster than other sheep.
These traits made them a valuable animal for early homesteads in the South. They are typically shorn once a year and produce fine wool. They also produce excellent mutton and are frequently used as dairy animals, generating vast quantities of milk for a relatively small breed of sheep. Rams can grow large –as heavy as 250 pounds—and are protective of their ewes.
Greenfire Farms maintains a pure, registered flock of these beautiful and hardy animals, and lambings, usually in the spring, are a common cause for celebration on the farm.