Fine-Wooled Sheep Raising

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Fine-Wooled Sheep Raising


the branch of livestock raising concerned with the breeding of sheep with fine, homogeneous wool. In addition to the wool, which is a valuable raw material for the textile and knitwear industries, fine-wooled sheep are raised for their meat and sheepskins. Fine-wooled sheep raising began in Spain in the 12th century, when the Arabs drove Merino sheep there from Asia Minor. In the 18th century, Merinos were exported to Saxony, and later to Austria, Italy, Russia, the USA, and Australia.

In the USSR, wool, wool-meat, and meat-wool breeds of fine-wooled sheep are raised. The principal breeds raised for wool are Groznyi, Stavropol’, Soviet Merino (wool type), and Azerbaijan Mountain Merino, which are bred mainly in dry-steppe and semi-desert regions of the Lower Volga, the northeastern regions of the Northern Caucasus, and the Azerbaijan SSR. Principal wool-meat breeds are Ascanian, Caucasian fine-wooled, Altai, Soviet Merino (wool-meat type), Transbaikal, Kirghiz, and Southern Kazakh Merino, which are raised in temperate regions, including the southern Ukrainian SSR, the Northern Caucasus, the Urals, Western and Eastern Siberia, and the northeastern and southern Kazakh SSR. Principal meat-wool breeds are Précoce, Kazakh fine-wooled, Kazakh Arkhar-Merino, and Viatka; these are raised in central chernozem regions of the RSFSR, the Middle Volga, forest-steppe and Poles’e regions of the Ukrainian SSR, and the southeastern Kazakh SSR.

The population of fine-wooled sheep in kolkhozes and sovkhozes (in millions and as of January 1 of years mentioned) increased from 37 in 1955 to 53 in 1974 (in the RSFSR, 28.9; in the Kazakh SSR, 12.5; in the Kirghiz SSR, 4.5; in the Ukrainian SSR, 3.2). Government purchases of fine wool in 1960 were 138,000 tons, and in 1974, 339,000 tons, or 66 percent of all wool purchases.

Outside the USSR, fine-wooled sheep raising is most developed in Australia, France, Rumania, and in Spain, where mainly Merinos are raised. Fine-wooled sheep constitute approximately 23 percent of the total world population of sheep, and fine wool accounts for approximately 40 percent of total wool production.


Ovtsevodstvo, vols. 1–2. Edited by G. R. Litovchenko and P. A. Esaulov. Moscow, 1972.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.