a breed of broad-tailed, coarse-wooled sheep used for lambskins. It is the leading breed in the USSR for lambskins.
The majority of researchers consider the Karakul breed a very ancient one and believe that it was developed by the peoples of Middle Asia through prolonged selection of local sheep. In the majority of Karakul sheep the head is semi-hook-nosed; the body is deep; and the tail has a large fatty deposit and ends in a thin S-shaped appendage. Most of the rams have horns; the ewes are hornless. Rams weigh 55–65 kg; ewes, 45–50 kg. The lambs are black (in 80 percent of the sheep), gray, brown, and agouti (sur). As they get older, black sheep turn gray; only the color of the head and legs remains the same. The fleece of newborn lambs consists mainly of cylindrical and bean-shaped curls that form a beautiful pattern. As the hair grows, the curls disappear and a coarse wool forms.
The principal product of Karakul sheep is lambskins. Karakul lambskins are in great demand in the USSR and are also exported. The wool of adult sheep is characterized by good fulling capacity and is used in making coarse woolen fabrics and carpets. The wool yield (from two shearings) is 3.5–3.8 kg for rams and 2.0–2.2 kg for ewes. Ewes freed of caring for lambs (because the lambs have been killed for their skins) are used for milk production (25–30 kg per lactation).
Breeding work with the Karakul sheep is aimed at improving the quality of the karakul and increasing the kinds of karakul. The Karakul breed is also used to improve the quality of lamb skins of other breeds. Karakuls are raised in Iran, Afghanistan, southwestern Africa, and a few other countries. In the USSR they are raised mainly in the Middle Asian republics, Kazakhstan, and some regions of the Ukrainian SSR and the Moldavian SSR.
REFERENCESIudin, V. M. Opytplemennoi raboty s karakul’skimi ovtsami v plemkhoze “Kara-Kum” (1936–1943 gg.). Samarkand, 1943.
Baikov, M. I. KarakuVskaia poroda ovets. Moscow, 1953.
Gigineishvili, N. S. Serye karakul’skie ovtsy. Moscow, 1954.
Ivanov, M. F. Poln. sobr. soch., vol. 3. Moscow, 1964.
I. IA. AVER’IANOV