We love our St. Croix! We chose St. Croix hair sheep because of their outstanding qualities and to be a part of the effort to save a heritage livestock breed. Previously listed as a "threatened" breed by The Livestock Conservancy, the St. Croix hair sheep are making progress, having moved up to the "watch" category. The more people who find out about this breed, the better!
Why St Croix?
No shearing (they have hair that sheds)
High parasite resistance
High lambing percentages
Polled (no horns)
Tender, mild flavored meat
For more reasons to make St. Croix your breed of choice, click on the link below:
Origin The St Croix is a breed of domestic sheep native to the U.S. Virgin Islands and named for the island of Saint Croix. They were probably brought to the islands from West Africa on slave ships in the 1500’s, but could also be a result of crossing the Wiltshire Horn sheep with native Criollo. Mr. Arturo Christensen, one of the largest breeders on the island, started Henry Shuester and his brother raising these sheep as teenagers. There were no other breeds. Henry Shuester said that a breeder got a lot of the white sheep in the 40’s and started selecting for the white polled traits. The rest of the island’s major breeders soon followed.(1)
Coming to the United States The St. Croix, also known as the Virgin Island White, were first brought into the United States by Michael Peil of Maine who imported 2 ewes and 1 ram in 1957. A second importation of 22 ewes and 3 rams by Dr. Warren Foote of Utah State University (USU) in 1975 provided the foundation for the St. Croix breed in the United States. Selection criteria for these foundation animals included: white coats, average to above-average conformation, average to above-average body size, and lack of horns in both sexes. Small experimental flocks derived from the USU population were established at Florida State University, Clemson University in South Carolina, Cal Poly in Pomona, CA, and several USDA field stations. USU personnel realized the sheep had useful characteristics, and Dr. Foote founded a breed registry in the 1980s.(2)
Today, the breed is gaining in popularity because of their easy care and hardiness. They can be crossed with other breeds of sheep to pass on many of their desirable traits.
References: (1) St. Croix Hair Sheep International Assoc. (2) St. Croix Sheep Breeders Assoc..