Breed Standard and Description

PURPOSE: The purpose of this standard is to provide a description of the Florida Cracker Sheep for future generations. While this standard may be used for the show ring, conservation of the breed is our primary concern..

DESCRIPTION: The Florida Cracker Sheep is a landrace breed, and as such has a greater diversity of appearance than most standardized breeds. Florida Cracker Sheep have adapted for almost 500 years to thrive in a warm humid subtropical environment, which is the breed’s main strength and which should be carefully maintained. Florida Cracker sheep are medium sized dual purpose meat and wool sheep with an unimproved appearance. Their size and high parasite resistance allows them to subsist on rough pasture. These sheep are proficient producers with high fertility rates, breed year round, are easy lambers, have strong maternal instincts, and good milk production. Unlike other breeds, Florida Cracker ewe's immunity does not drop during pregnancy. Unassisted pasture lambing is normal. Their gentle natures make them easy to raise on small operations or in large flocks.

GENERAL APPEARANCE: A moderate size breed. Wool on the body, but short hair on the legs, belly and head extending to behind the ears and throatlatch. They present their gentle nature in their stance with head held moderately high and ears alert, legs are squarely placed.

SIZE: The Florida Cracker Sheep is a natural sheep, and should not appear bulky or obese. Mature rams weigh between 135 to 200 lbs. and mature ewes weigh between 85 and 135 lbs. Slight variations under and over these weights should not be penalized. Any exaggeration or deviation from a natural lean appearance is a serious fault.

HEADS: The head is not large, and and tapers toward the muzzle. The head of the ram is distinctly masculine without being overdone. Ewes have a feminine head. The front teeth meet the dental pad evenly. Nose and eye rims colored. Ears medium to small, carried nearly horizontal and well covered with hair to prevent sunburn.

HORNS: Polled animals are preferred. Scurs and horns can occur on both sexes, but should always be noted on the registration.

NECK: Medium length. Set smoothly into the shoulders.

FRONT: Shoulders medium wide, smooth.

TOPLINE: Back level, flat on top tapering to a moderate rib spring. Rump slopes gradually to the tail head.

REAR: Pelvis medium wide, well muscled on inner and outer thigh extending to the shank.

TAIL: Length is variable. Low set, may be docked. If docked, it must be long enough to cover the vulva. Extreme short dock is a serious fault.

LEGS: Bone medium to light, strong, stands square, up on their toes with strong pasterns. Rear legs show moderate angulation from the side. Hoof colors range from light to dark with dark preferred.

SCROTUM/UDDER: Two well formed symmetrical testicles in rams. Two teats on a nicely balanced udder.

HAIR PATTERN: The face, up to and behind the ears, throatlatch, belly, tail base and scrotum preferably have short hair and not wool. This pattern is traditional for the breed, and an essential part of breed character. Wool in these areas is considered a fault.

WOOL: Variable, but ideally soft, fine, and crimped. The fleece should be free from hair fiber. It is desirable that wool not extend forward of the ears or cover the throatlatch. Wool is of medium length and suitable for spinning. Lambs may be sheared for the show ring, but adults should be shown with typical wool. Wool on the head forward of the ears is considered a fault.

COLOR: All colors and color patterns are equally desirable

SHOW RING FAULTS:

  • 1. Any exaggeration or deviation from a natural moderate sheep is a serious fault.
  • 2. Hair on the face up to and behind the ears, the throatlatch, belly, tail base and testicles are preferred. This pattern is a trademark of the breed. Wool in these areas is considered a fault.
  • 3. Extreme short dock is a serious fault.