Characteristics of St. Croix: the Easy Care Sheep
St. Croix sheep are an attractive, hardy, medium-sized, polled (hornless), white hair sheep.
- The Hair Coat
- Their hair coat is smooth in summer and thicker with mixed hair and downy undercoat in winter. They naturally shed their coat and never require shearing.
- Size of St. Croix
- Mature rams sport a lion-like mane that may fall down to the knees. Mature rams weigh up to 200 lbs and ewes up to 150 lbs. Birth weights for twins average 7 lbs.
- St Croix sheep are active and vigorous without any tendency to be wild.
- Parasite Resistance
- They demonstrate greater resistance to internal parasites than do both wool sheep and most other hair sheep breeds.
- The ewes can breed back one month after lambing, and ewes can produce two lamb crops per year. Ewes usually bear twins, with some singles, frequent triplets, and occasional quadruplets; lambing rates vary from 150-200%.
- St. Croix Meat
- Carcass composition of St Croix is similar to that of Rambouillet, but the St Croix have a 23% higher carcass yield due to smaller bone and less fat. The meat is tender with a mild flavor. As an unimproved breed, the St Croix has slower growth rates than many meat breeds, which have been selected for rapid growth and large body size. St Croix are an ideal size, however, for many ethnic markets.
St. Croix Hair Sheep Populations
Globally, hair sheep comprise approximately ten percent of the sheep population and are located primarily in the tropical regions of Africa, South America and the Caribbean. Interest in hair sheep has risen since the loss of the Federal wool subsidy.
Value of St. Croix Hair Sheep
Caribbean hair sheep, such as the St. Croix, are prolific and breed throughout the year and thus are of value to the U.S. sheep industry. With no shearing costs, strong parasite resistance, no fly strike, high lamb survivability, good mothering instincts and good flocking, the St. Croix Sheep has a lot to offer shepherds in the US .
St. Croix Hair Sheep Research
Research involving St Croix sheep, published in peer-reviewed scientific journals.
- Brown, M.A. and W. G. Jackson. 1995. Ewe productivity and subsequent preweaning lamb performance in St. Croix sheep bred at different times during the year. J Anim Sci 73:1258-1263.
- Bunch,T. D., R. C. Evans, S. Wang, C. P. Brennand, D. R. Whittier, and B. J. Taylor. 2004. Feed efficiency, growth rates, carcass evaluation, cholesterol level and sensory evaluation of lambs of various hair and wool sheep and their crosses. Small Ruminant Res 52:239-245.
- Bunge, R., D. L. Thomas, T. G. Nash, and C. J. Lupton. 1996. Performance of hair breeds and prolific wool breeds of sheep in southern Illinois: wool production and fleece quality. J Anim Sci 74: 25-30.
- Bunge, R., D. L. Thomas, and T. G. Nash. 1995. Performance of hair breeds and prolific wool breeds of sheep in southern Illinois: lamb production of F1 adult ewes. J Anim Sci 73: 1602-1608.
- Bunge, R., D. L. Thomas, and T. G. Nash. 1993. Performance of hair breeds and prolific wool breeds of sheep in southern Illinois: lamb production of F1 ewe lambs. J Anim Sci 71: 2012-2017.
- Bunge, R., D. L. Thomas, T. G. Nash, and R. L. Fernando. 1993. Performance of hair breeds and prolific wool breeds of sheep in southern Illinois: effect of breed of service sire on lamb production of Suffolk and Targhee ewes. J Anim Sci 71: 321-325.
- Burke, J.M. 2005. Lamb production of Dorper, Katahdin, and St. Croix bred in summer, winter, or spring in the southeastern United States. Sheep Goat Res J. 20:51-59.
- Burke, J.M. , J. K. Apple, W. J. Roberts, C. B. Boger and E. B. Kegley . 2003. Effect of breed-type on performance and carcass traits of intensively managed hair sheep. Meat Science 63:309-315.
- Burke, J.M. and J.E. Miller. 2004. Relative resistance to gastrointestinal nematode parasites in Dorper, Katahdin, and St. Croix lambs under conditions encountered in the southeastern region of the United States. Small Ruminant Res 54:43-51.
- Burke, J.M. and J.E. Miller. 2002. Relative resistance of Dorper crossbred ewes to gastrointestinal nematode infection compared with St. Croix and Katahdin ewes in the southeastern United States. Vet. Parasitol. 109:265-275.
- Cole, N.A. 1999. Nitrogen retention by lambs fed oscillating dietary protein concentrations. J. Anim Sci 77:215-222.
- Courtney, C.H., C.F. Parker, K.E. McClure, and R.P. Herd. 1985. Resistance of exotic and domestic lambs to experimental infection with Haemonchus contortus. Internat J. Parasit. 15:101-109.
- Courtney, C.H., C.F. Parker, K.E. McClure, and R.P. Herd. 1985. Resistance of nonlambing exotic and domestic ewes to naturally acquired gastrointestinal nematodes. Internat J Parasitol. 15:239-244.
- Courtney, C.H., C.F. Parker, K.E. McClure, and R.P. Herd. 1984. A comparison of the periparturient rise in fecal egg counts of exotic and domestic ewes. Internat J Parasit. 14:377-381.
- Dodson, R.E., A.J. Weis and R.W. Godfrey. 2005. Post-weaning growth and carcass traits of St. Croix White and Dorper X St. Croix White lambs grazing pasture during the dry and wet seasons in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Sheep Goat Res J 20:25-31.
- Gamble, H.R. and A.M. Zajac. 1992. Resistance of St. Croix lambs to Haemonchus contortus in experimentally and naturally acquired infections. Vet Parasitol. 41:211-225.
- Godfrey, R.W. and A.J. Weis . 2005. Post-weaning growth and carcass traits of St. Croix White and Dorper X St. Croix White lambs fed a concentrate diet in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Sheep Goat Res J 20:32-36.
- Godfrey, R.W. and R.E. Dodson. 2003. Effect of supplemental nutrition around lambing on hair sheep ewes and lambs during the dry and wet seasons in thve U.S. Virgin Islands. J Anim Sci. 81:587-593.
- Godfrey, R.W., A.J. Weis, and R.E. Dodson. 2003. Effect of flushing hair sheep ewes during the dry and wet seasons in the U.S. Virgin Islands. J. Anim. Vet. Adv. 2:184-185.
- Godfrey, R.W., J.R. Collins, and E.L. Hensley. 2001. Behavioral and endocrine responses of hair sheep ewes exposed to different mating stimuli around estrus. Theriogenology 55:877-884.
- Godfrey, R.W., J.R. Collins, and M.L. Gray. 1998. Evaluation of sexual behavior of hair sheep rams in a tropical environment. J Anim Sci 76:714-717.
- Godfrey, R.W., M.L. Gray, and J.R. Collins. 1998. The effect of ram exposure on uterine involution and luteal function during the postpartum period of hair sheep ewes in the tropics. J Anim Sci 76:3090-3094.
- Godfrey, R.W., M.L. Gray, and J.R. Collins. 1997. Lamb growth and milk production of hair and wool sheep in a semi-arid tropical environment. Small Ruminant Res. 24:77-83.
- Goetsch, A.L. 1998. A note on the effect of lamb growth potential, litter size, and concentrate supplements on performance of lambs and lactating ewes consuming low to moderate quality grass hay. J Anim Feed Sci 7:37-44.
- Goetsch, A.L. 1999. Growing and finishing performance by lambs differing in growth potential consuming diets during growing varying in levels of corn and rumen undegradable protein. Small Ruminant Res 31:245-257.
- Goetsch, A.L. and Z.B. Johnson. 1999. Feed intake and digestion in the summer and fall by different breeds of ewes consuming forages differing in quality. Small Ruminant Res 31:109-116.
- Hammond, A. C. and S. Wildeus. 1993. Effects of coconut meal or fish meal supplementation on performance, carcass characteristics and diet digestibility in growing St. Croix lambs fed a tropical grass-based diet. Small Ruminant Res 12:13-25
- Horton, G.M.J., and C.C. Burgher. 1992. Physiological and carcass characteristics of hair and wool breeds of sheep. Small Ruminant Res 7:51-60.
- Mansfield, L.S. and H. R. Gamble. 1995. Alveolar mastocytosis and eosinophilia in lambs with naturally acquired nematode infections of Protostrongylus rufescens and Haemonchus contortus. Vet. Immunol. Immunopath. 49(3) :251-262.
- Ockerman, H.W., H. Emsen, C.F. Parker, and C.J. Pierson. 1982. Influence of type wooled or hair and breed on growth and carcass characteristics and sensory properties of lamb. J. Food Sci 47:1365-1368.
- Panitz, E., R.W. Godfrey and R.E. Dodson. 2002. Resistance to Ivermectin and the effect of topical Eprinomectin on faecal egg counts in St Croix White Hair sheep. Veterinary Res Communic. 26(6):443-446 [Resistance of worms to ivermectin on the Virgin Islands]
- Phillips, W.A., M.A. Brown, H.G. Dolezal and G.Q. Fitch. 2005. Feedlot performance and carcass characteristics of lambs sired by Texel, Romanov, St. Croix or Dorset rams from Polypay and St. Croix ewes. Sheep Goat Res J 20:11-16.
- Roberts, J.A., S. Widjayanti, E. Estuningsih, and D.J. Hetzel. 1997. Evidence for a major gene determining the resistance of Indonesian thin tail sheep against Fasciola gigantica. Vet Parasitol. 68:309-314.
- Roberts, J.A., E. Estuningsih, S. Widjayanti, E. Wiedosari, S. Partoutomo, and T.W. Spithill. 1997. Resistance of Indonesian thin tail sheep against Fasciola gigantica and F. hepatica. Vet Parasitol 68:69-78.
- Romjali, E., V.S. Pandey, R.M. Gatenby, M. Doloksaribu, H. Sakul, A. Wilson, A. Verhulst. 1997. Genetic resistance of different genotypes of sheep to natural infections with gastro-intestinal nematodes. Anim Sci 64:97-104. (abstract only)
- Romjali, E., P. Dorny, A. Batubara,V.S. Pandey, and R.M. Gatenby. 1997. Peri-parturient rise in faecal strongyle egg counts of different genotypes of sheep in North Sumatra, Indonesia. Vet Parasitol 68:191-196.
- Seabury, C.M. and J.N. Derr. 2003. Identification of a novel ovine PrP polymorphism and scrapie-resistant genotypes for St. Croix White and a related composite breed. Cytogenet Genome Res 102:85-88.
- Vanimisetti, H. B., Greiner, S. P., Zajac, A. M., and D.R. Notter. 2004. Performance of hair sheep composite breeds: Resistance of lambs to Haemonchus contortus. J Anim Sci 82:595-604.
- Wildeus, S., K.E. Turner, and J.R. Collins. 2005. Growth Performance of Barbados Blackbelly, Katahdin and St. Croix Hair Sheep Lambs Fed Pasture- or Hay-Based Diets. Sheep Goat Res J. 20:37-41.
- Wildeus, S. and A. M. Zajac. 2005. Gastrointestinal parasitism in hair sheep and meat goat breeds grazing naturally infected pasture. Sheep Goat Res J. 20:42-46. [Study involves Katahdin Hair sheep but not St Croix]
- Wildeus, S. 1997. Hair sheep genetic resources and their contribution to diversified small ruminant production in the United States. J Anim Sci 75:630-640
- Zajac, A.M., S. Krakowka, R.P. Herd, K.E. McClure. 1990. Experimental Haemonchus-contortus infection in three breeds of sheep. Vet Parasitol 36:211-236.