10 Best Sheep Breeds for Meat (With Pictures)

Keeping meat breeds of sheep opens the doors for farmers to produce high-quality meat to sell and make a good profit. 

Knowing the types of sheep best for their superior quality helps pick the best breeds of sheep for their specific needs. 

Choosing a hardy breed will help reduce overhead and costs. 

Let’s look at our list of sheep breeds to make an excellent choice for your herd and farm. 

Dorset Sheep

Dorset Sheep

Dorset sheep are one of the more popular sheet breeds for meat production. 

Keeping Dorset sheep for meat helps keep a consistent supply of lambs for meat. 

They are known for their excellent breeding ability because they do not pause their estrus cycle during the warmer months. 

This makes them an excellent choice for breeding because they mate year-round. 

They are large sheep producing meaty lambs, which makes them a fantastic choice for meat producers. 

Hampshire Sheep

Hampshire Sheep

Hampshire sheep are one of the great breeds of meat sheep. 

Originally from England, these meat-producing sheep are known for their rapid growth rate, which is advantageous for commercial meat production as the turnaround is very quick. 

Keeping Hampshire sheep for meat is a great choice for those looking to make profits quickly from fast-growing healthy lambs. 

Suffolk Sheep

Suffolk Sheep

The Suffolk sheep breed is a great choice of meat-producing sheep. 

They have one of the fastest growth rates among meat breeds. 

Suffolks are also celebrated for the excellent meat quality they produce. 

Their large size produces significant quantities of succulent meat. 

The composition of meat they produce is famous for its higher muscle and protein composition. 

This makes for lean meat with a higher nutritional value than meat from the standard meat type of sheep. 

Katahdin Sheep

Black Katahdin

Katahdin sheep are excellent meat-type sheep. 

They are known for their hardiness and adaptability. 

These hardy sheep can thrive in different climates while still producing excellent meat. 

Compared to other sheep breeds, the Katahdin variety does take longer to reach market weight, but they still produce a meaty carcass. 

One of the benefits of the Katahdin sheep is its independence and low maintenance. 

Many thrive when left to graze on pasture alone. 

This drastically reduces overhead and allows farmers to make more of a profit off of the meaty lambs. 

Related: Can you keep just 2 sheep?

Icelandic Sheep

Icelandic Sheep

Icelandic sheep make excellent dual-purpose breeds for farmers. 

You’ll make money off their meat and their quality wool. 

Many people keep these wool sheep exclusively for quality wool production. 

However, they also make fine-textured and tender lamb meat. 

Icelandic sheep are incredibly hardy and do well in harsh conditions. 

They are adaptable and capable of thriving on pasture grazing alone. 

Low maintenance means higher profits which is why this breed is an excellent choice for meat farmers. 

Related: Best sheep breeds for wool

Montadale Sheep

Montadale Sheep
Image From https://www.raisingsheep.net/montadale-sheep

The Montadale sheep is slowly becoming one of the more popular breeds in the United States. 

It was recently introduced in the states as a multi-use breed. 

They produce a high-yield quality carcass and also produce high-quality sheep milk. 

Related: Best sheep breeds for milk production

Their wool makes for excellent sheep fleece. 

Being self-sufficient is a major driving factor behind keeping a homestead, so it makes sense why the Montadale is becoming an increasingly popular choice for those looking to get the most from their herd. 

Dorper Sheep 

Dorper sheep

The Dorper breed of sheep is a crossbreed of the Blackheaded Persian, and the Dorset Horn breeds. 

This leads to the common black head trait, although many Dorper lambs are born with a white head. 

Many farmers prefer the look of the black head, so these are more commonly seen. 

Dorpers are prolific breeders and produce a lot of meat per sheep. 

This allows you to make much money from a herd of Dorper sheep. 

They have an extremely fast growth rate, allowing you to bring them to market much sooner than other breeds. 

In addition to all these benefits, they are incredibly hardy and capable of thriving in diverse conditions. 

Southdown Sheep

Southdown Sheep

The Southdown breed of sheep is slightly different from others on this list. 

They are much smaller than the more popular sheep breeds for meat production. 

However, if you plan to focus more on the quality of the meat your herd of sheep produces, then the Southdown breed is an excellent option. 

What they lack in size, they make up for in quality as many farmers prefer the texture and taste of the Southdown sheep. 

This breed is also very hardy and reaches sexual maturity earlier than other breeds of sheep. 

Those interested in breeding sheep for meat production will benefit from their ability to mate and successfully breed very early on. 

Cheviot Sheep

Cheviot Sheep

The Cheviot Sheep breed originated in England and Scotland. 

Their ancestral home is in the mountainous terrain, which makes this breed extremely hardy and adaptable in harsh conditions. 

They are a bit more compact than many popular breeds kept for commercial meat production, but their size makes them the perfect homestead sheep. 

Despite their small size, the Cheviot sheep produce high-quality meat and are known for being excellent mothers. 

This makes breeding time very easy if you are breeding Cheviot sheep. 

Another benefit of this breed is its low maintenance. 

They do well even on poor pasture without supplementation. 

This helps those looking to cut costs and become more self-sufficient. 

Charollais Sheep 

Charollais Sheep 

The Charollais breed is one of the most recently recognized breeds of domesticated sheep. 

They are medium to large and produce very lean meat. 

Purebred Charollais sheep are fantastic for meat production. 

The lean quality of their meat makes them very popular for use as a terminal sire to help increase the rate of muscle development and growth in lambs. 

These traits make the Charollais breed of sheep desirable, but they have a few drawbacks. 

They are not adaptable or hardy and tend to be poor foragers. 

This does tend to increase the maintenance and care needed to keep them healthy and produce their quality meat. 

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Growing up amidst the sprawling farms of the South, Wesley developed a profound connection with farm animals from a young age. His childhood experiences instilled in him a deep respect for sustainable and humane farming practices. Today, through Farmpertise.com, Wesley shares his rich knowledge, aiming to inspire and educate others about the joys and intricacies of rural life.

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