Karakul or Qaraqul (named after Qorako‘l, a city in Bukhara Province in Uzbekistan) is a breed of domestic sheep which originated in Central Asia. Some archaeological evidence points to Karakul sheep being raised there continuously since 1400 BC.
Hailing from the desert regions of Central Asia, Karakul sheep are renowned for their ability to forage and thrive under extremely harsh living conditions. They can survive severe drought conditions because of a special quality they have, storing fat in their tails. Karakul are also raised in large numbers in Namibia, having first been brought there by German colonists in the early 20th century.
- Breed Name: Karakul
- Other Name: Also known by some other names such as Qaraqul, Karagül (Turkey), Karakul’skaya (Russian), Astrakhan and Bukhara.
- Breed Purpose: Meat, milk, wool and hides
- Breed Size: Medium
- Weight: Mature ewes body weight vary from 45 to 68 kg. And the mature rams on average weight between 79 and 102 kg.
- Horns: Rams have horns, but the ewes are naturally polled
- Climate Tolerance: Almost all climates
- Color: Many
- Rarity: Common
- Country/Place of Origin: Central Asia
The Karakuls differ radically in conformation from many other breeds. They are of the fat broadtailed type of sheep. In their large tail is stored fat, a source of nourishment, similar in function to the camel’s hump. The narrow appendage below this fat sack is often recurved, giving an S shape. Karakuls are medium-size sheep. The rams will weigh between 175-225 pounds and the ewes range from 100-150 pounds. They stand tall, with a long, narrow body.
The top line is highest at the loin with the rump long and sloping, blending into a low set broadtail. The head is long and narrow, slightly indented between the eyes and often exhibiting a Roman type nose. The long ears are always pointing downward and slightly forward and vary from a long U shape to small V shape, or may be entirely absent.
The long neck is carried semi-erect. The legs are medium to long, and light in bone. Rams can be polled or horned; horns vary from short to large outwardly curved spirals. Ewes are generally hornless. Wattles are not unusual.
The Karakul sheep are medium-sized animals. They differ radically in conformation from many other sheep breeds, and they are of the fat broad tailed type of sheep. There are stored fat in their large tail, which is a source of nourishment and similar in function to the camel’s hump. They usually stand tall, with a long and narrow body. Their top line is highest at the loin with the rump long and sloping, blending into a low set broad tail. Head of the Karakul sheep is long and narrow, and slightly indented between the eyes and often exhibiting a Roman type nose.
Karakul or Qaraqul (named after Qorako’l, a city in Bukhara Province in Uzbekistan) is a breed of domestic sheep which originated in Central Asia. Some archaeological evidence points to Karakul sheep being raised there continuously since 1400 BC.
Very young or even fetal Karakul lambs are prized for pelts. Newborn karakul sheep pelts are called karakul, swakara (coined from South West Africa Karakul), astrakhan (Russian), Persian lamb, agnello di Persia, (Italian), krimmer (Russian) and garaköli bagana (Turkmen). Sometimes the terms for newborn lambs’ and fetal lambs’ pelts are used interchangeably.
The newborn lambs have a tight, curly pattern of hair. The lambs must be under three days old when they are killed, or they will lose their black color and soft, tightly wound coils of fur. Dark colors are dominant and lambs often darken in color as they age.
The American Karakul Sheep Registry
The American Karakul Sheep Registry is a roster of the U.S. Karakuls to the degree that it is supported by the Karakul breeders. As an organization it has evolved from the Karakul Fur Sheep Registry founded in the 1930’s and is now recognized as the national registry for the breed.
It is open to all breeders of quality Karakuls. Its purposes are to provide a recording service, to work towards a high standard of quality in the Karakuls and to promote and thereby preserve the breed in the U.S.
Karakul sheep images