Polypay sheep

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Polypay sheep

The Polypay sheep breed is a white, medium-sized, polled sheep which was developed in the 1960s at the U.S. Sheep Experiment Station in Dubois, Idaho. In general, Polypay sheep are noted for being a highly prolific maternal dual-purpose (meat and wool) breed.

The Polypay was born out of frustration and a dream in the the late 1960’s. The frustration was in needing more productive sheep to make a profit. The dream was to develop sheep which would produce two lamb crops and one wool crop per year. Led by Dr. C.V. Hulet, the scientists at the U.S. Sheep Experimentation Station in Dubois, Idaho developed five primary goals for the dream breed:


  • Breed Name: Polypay
  • Other Name: None
  • Breed Purpose: Meat and wool
  • Breed Size: Medium
  • Horns: No
  • Climate Tolerance: Native climates
  • Color: White
  • Rarity: Common
  • Country/Place of Origin: United States


The Polypay breed was born out of frustration and a dream. Long-time Idaho sheep man Reed Hulet was frustrated with the production of his family’s 600 Idaho range ewes. They needed more productive sheep to make a profit. His dream – to develop a more prolific, better milking and mothering breed of range and farm combination sheep by cross breeding the best sheep available, and selecting for prolificacy and other economic traits.

Reed Hulet did not have the resources to develop a new breed of sheep, so he shared his dream with his brother, Dr. Clarence Hulet’s experimental breeding plan to reduce breeding seasonality and enhance prolificacy was approved. The dream to produce two lamb crops and one wool crop per year to give sheep producers more profits was on its way to reality.


Polypay sheep are medium sized animals with white coloration. They produce lambs with acceptable growth and carcass quality. Photo and info from American Polypay Association and Wikipedia.

  • Be free of gross anatomical or physical defects (Entropian eyes, etc)
  • Not be subject to wool blindness
  • Have a smooth body from neck folds
  • Have no color in fleece and less than 10% color (black or brown) in the hairy parts of the head and legs.
  • No extreme britchiness or extreme coarseness of wool.
  • Be polled. Nor scurs in ewes. Scurs in rams are undesirable and should be strongly discriminated against.
  • Incisor teeth must touch the dental pad.


The Polypay sheep has a longer breeding season and lambs tend to grow quickly. Polypay Sheep in the Wild. Habitat. Domesticated species, breed from four different breeds of sheep.


The original breeding stock were taken from the Finnsheep for their high prolificacy, early puberty and short gestation, Dorset for their superior mothering ability, carcass quality, early puberty and long breeding season, Targhee for their large body size, long breeding season and quality fleeces, and Rambouilet for their adaptability, hardiness, productivity and quality fleeces.

In 1968, Hulet performed the first cross breedings generating Finnsheep x Rambouillet and Dorset x Targhee  lambs, which were born in 1969. The first 4-breed composites were made in 1970. After seeing the potential and enthusiasm for the new breed, Hulet coined the name for the breed in 1975. The Polypay name was created from poly, meaning multiple, and pay, meaning return on investment. The American Polypay Association was formed in 1980.

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