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Navajo Churro Sheep?


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DH and I were watching a show on Arizona yesterday. The show had a spot on Navajo Churro sheep. Apparently they are a very lean meat? Does anyone know anything about these sheep?


One of my friends has these sheep. They are lean, smaller. Nice wool for hand spinning, tho courser. Nice colors for hand spinning. I have not asked her how they do in our climate or how their feet are as they were bred by the Deneh, in the desert. (And frankly most of the Deneh folks I know have bought commercial sheep now. Although their breeding project on the rez is still going on. My friend has had them for many years and sells the lambs as locker lamb, is using the USDA mobile slaughter and came out to the cattlemens association to brain tan the hides in my class. (She always supplies the brains!) She has sent me pictures. The are nice looking sheep.


Don't know if this helps at all.

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Navajo churro wool is considered a carpet/rug wool--suitable for weaving and probably felting, but not for knitting into garments (unless you were to knit and then felt--like most carpet wools it would be rather scratchy on your skin, but would be suitable for hats and outer garments). They do come in a variety of fleece colors, which means that you can get by without dying wool if you want to use natural earth tones. They are smaller than my karakul sheep and were actually my first choice before karakuls, but were harder to find here in the east. They are what would be considered a primitive breed of sheep.


At one time the government was helping with the restoration of this breed (they were considered endangered) and so would give starter flocks to preservation breeders in exchange for lambs to help create other starter flocks. I have no idea if this program still exists. (This was out west.)


If you want to do some reading about them, check out Oklahoma State's breeds of livestock page. There's an alphabetical menu on the left and you can scroll down to the Navajo churro. There's not a lot of information, but there is some stuff about the history of the breed.


I don't know if it relates, but I sometimes have difficulty selling my karakuls to ethinc buyers who are used to seeing sheep with a nice layer of fat on them (as karakuls are also very lean--they store excess fat in their tails). They see my lean sheep and think they have no meat, when in fact what they have is little fat. I prefer the leaner meat because even the old ones never get that gamey/muttony taste, largely because that flavor seems to come from the fat, which they don't store in the meat. (That is, with fatty sheep, trimming the excess fat on cuts of meat can help reduce the muttony flavor that many people dislike.)



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I keep about 30 of these in support of the Navajo Sheep Project.




They are not very big.

They are hell to shear.

They are really cool looking.

They are tough as nails.

They will eat anything.

They never have parasite problems.

They rarely need any help with lambing.


If treated right, they work great with dogs.



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Some folks here have them (Hum, I'm wondering if these folks are Tea's friends?). Apparently, they handle a wet climate just fine, although I imagine some selection for that is going on in this flock. The wool is really coarse, but beautiful. It's a true rug wool- wears like iron. The flock here is not used to a dog, and they're right up there with Barbs for being flighty. They're tough, thrifty little sheep. The lambs these folks sell are smaller, but the cuts are nice.

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Thanks guys! DH has been searching online for properties that can accomidate sheep in our area. Our herding lessons have both of us hooked. Unless something crazy happens, our next house will come with sheep!!!


After watching that show we have been thinking that the Navajo Churro may be the way to go. One of my best friends is from the Navajo reservation on the AZ & NM border where a lot of these sheep are and I may have to pick her brain on these sheep as well. I think we may have found one more peice to our puzzle!


Does anyone know how these guys do in heat? We will need to stay in daily commuting distance of the Phoenix metro area because of DH's career.

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