Lithuanian Black-Headed are multipurpose
sheep developed in Lithuania during the mid-20th century. They were developed
by crossing local sheep with English Shropshire and meaty German black-headed
rams, with the goal of combining the best characteristics of both.
Lithuanian Black-Headed sheep
mature early and supply homogenous semi-fine wool. They have short and white
wool, while their head, ears, and legs are covered with black hair. They have no
In order to form productive herds
of thoroughbred sheep, state-run Black-Headed sheep breeding nucleus farms were
established in Pasvalys in 1952, and in Telsiai in 1956. In 1963 the Seduva
Experimental Farm was launched to preserve the breed. Since its inception the
farm has performed scientific research, including evaluation of sheep health
and fertility, milking capacity, chemical composition of sheep milk, and
quality of wool and meat.
The first Lithuanian Black-Headed
breed herd book was issued in 1963, and the last in 1993. As of 2007,
thoroughbred Lithuanian Black-Headed sheep were being raised in four farming
herds totaling about 470 ewes. Its genetic material is being stored as a
resource, and a 2005 United Nations-sponsored initiative purchased the sheep in
support of traditional Lithuanian textile arts.