Four-Horned Sheep

Four-Horned Sheep Quick Facts

Four-Horned Sheep

Common Name

Four-Horned Sheep

Scientific Name

Ovis sp. Also referred to as "Jacob sheep" and formerly known as "Piebald sheep"

Primarily found in




Life Span

Up to 15 years

Intro to the Four-Horned Sheep

SCI classifies them as "multi-horned sheep".  A rare, primitive sheep with ancestry dating back 3,000 years.

Jacob's four-horned sheep are perhaps the most easily identified sheep species in the exotic world.  It's name is derived from the two sets of horns (or "4 horns") protruding from the sheep's noggin'.  Some have only two horns or even 6, but 4 is most common in rams.  Ewes will often have zero or 2 small, irregular-shaped horns.  Horn configurations can vary greatly.  Horns in 2-horn, and the lower horns in 4-horns, usually grow in a classic curl.  Upper horns usually grow upward, but may curl as well.  The horns are black or black/white striped.  Females on Texas ranches generally are hornless, but in other parts of the world may grow mouflan-shaped horns.  Jacobs are long, wooly-bodied sheep with a triangular head and sloping rump.  They are usually lacking wool on legs, udder/scrotum, and head.  Their tails are long if not docked.  Though jacobs appear to be a white sheep with black markings, they are actually black with white markings.  Occasionally, the black appears a brownish-gray.   Through extensive cross-breeding, some sheep may appear all black or with very few white spots.  A smaller sheep species, rams weigh from 120 to 180 lbs and ewes 100 to 120 lbs.

Four-Horned Sheep behavior

Do not exhibit much flocking behavior.  Males fight and may break off horns.  Drink water freely.

Four-Horned Sheep food and eating habits

Feed mainly on grasses and forbs. Better apt to survive on more poor range conditions and require less supplemental feeding than modern sheep breeds.Need easily accessible water source.

Four-Horned Sheep breeding

Seasonal breeders that often have twin births (1 to 3 possible).  Breed all year with the presence of males.  Gestation period is 5 months.  Adding males in mid-October results in March births which increases survival and recruitment rate.  Both sexes mature sexually at 12 months, but 6 months possible in males.

Four-Horned Sheep average life span

Up to 15 years in captivity.

Keeping Four-Horned Sheep

Hardy animals with high resistance to parasites, disease and foot problems.  Hooves generally need trimming once a year, even on soft pasture.  Shearing is recommended on an annual basis and helps dealing with summer heat.  Horns may need trimming to avoid contact with skin.  Jacob's four-horns do not need supplemental grain, if an excellent quality forage or hay is available.  Feeding excessive grain during pregnancy can cause birth complications.  Simple, open shelter from rain and weather is needed.  They can be skittish if not used to humans, although with daily handling and interaction they can become quite tame.  Mix well with goats and other livestock/exotics so long as ample grazing resources exist.  Interbreed with other sheep breeds regularly with hybrids being fertile.  Four ft. fencing or enclosure is normally sufficient and should be close-woven to minimize the possibility of horns getting caught.

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