Rhoen sheep are one of the oldest landrace
breeds in Germany. They were mentioned in 1844 in the files of the convent of
Fulda: 'The common sheep of the Rhoen farmer is a normal German sheep with
peculiar characteristics, which even in foreign countries is known as Rhoenschaf.
It is yellow-white with a black hornless head and is clothed in coarse,
non-elastic wool, with little crimp. Its body is large, the bones are strong,
and it lends itself to fattening.'
Pictures from 1873 show that the Rhoenschaf
then was similar to the one of today, despite crossbreeding attempts with
Cotswold, Oxfordshire, and Merino rams. Even today it is a medium to
large-sized sheep with long legs and no horns. It is the only breed with white
legs and black head that is free of wool.
These extremely hardy and frugal landrace
sheep are well suited for the wet climates of rough highlands, where it is
useful in landscape preservation. In the higher regions, the sheep feed on
rough grasses and tree sprouts; in lower areas, they groom the meadows that are
dotted with fruit trees.