Copper-Red Shumen Sheep

Breeds and animal husbandry - Bulgaria

The Copper-Red Shumen sheep (medno-chervena Shumenska ovtsa) is an indigenous Bulgarian breed of short, thin-tailed sheep. The main area of distribution is northeastern Bulgaria, mainly the regions of Shumen, Targovishte and Razgrad, but also in Dobrudza (a historical region in the Danube Delta, shared by Bulgaria and Romania). The head is medium in size, wool-covered to the forehead. The face, ears and legs are covered by short hairs. The body is compact, with a deep and broad chest. Ewes are hornless, but rams have well-developed horns. The tail reaches the hock joint. The fleece is red-brown, copper, fawn or black in color. The face and the legs are black. The live body weight of ewes is 35-42 kg, while in rams it is 45-60 kg. Dairy productivity is 90-130 kg per lactation. The name of the breed is due to the copper-red color of the wool. Copper-Red Shumen sheep are an old Bulgarian breed. According to many scientists it has arisen as a result of the selection of the individuals from the oldest local breed of sheep, the Bulgarian Tsigai. Some consider the Karnobat sheep to also belong to the Coper-Red Shumen breed, however despite their common origin, they are spatially isolated by the mountains and their selection took place at various stages, resulting in features that allow for both breeds to be divided as separate breeds. Leading role in the selection of this breed was the milk yield, fertility rate of the ewes and the quality of the wool. Because of its relatively good fertility rate, dairy productivity and good adaptation to the terrain and grasslands of northeastern Bulgaria, the breed was one of the predominant ones in that area in the past. Today, ewes are still used for dairy production, with lambs sold for meat. It is also still used as a wool producing breed. However, despite the fact that this native breed is well adapted to the local ecological conditions, many of these sheep are being replaced by imported, more productive breeds, or vanishing due to genetic erosion. The Copper-Red Shumen breed numbered 4138 ewes and 142 rams in 40 flocks under breeding control in 2011.