Animal Husbandry

Complete List of Top Sheep Breeds in India 2023

25 Aug 2023
Complete List of Top Sheep Breeds in India 2023
As per the 20th Livestock Census of 2019, the total number of Sheep in the country stands at 74.26 million in 2019. It is a 14.1% increase over Livestock Census of 2012. The top sheep breeds in India includes Nellore Sheep, Bannur Kuri, Chennai Red, Deccani Sheep, and Pugal Sheep, among others.

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Sheep farming has been an integral part of India's rural landscape for centuries, contributing significantly to the country's economy and livelihoods. As of 2023, India boasts a diverse array of sheep breeds, each uniquely adapted to the region's varied climates and agricultural practices. This blog sheds light on the top sheep breeds in India in 2023, highlighting their characteristics, contributions, and significance to the nation's agrarian heritage.

Top Sheep Breeds in India 2023

You can find a wide variety of foreign and Indian sheep breeds in our country. In this section, we have discussed the different types of sheep in India. Some of the best sheep breeds in India are listed below:

Nellore Sheep

Top Sheep Breeds - Nellore Sheep

Hailing from the Nellore, Ongole, and Prakasam districts of Andhra Pradesh, the Nellore sheep breed is renowned for its resilience and adaptability to tropical conditions. These sheep exhibit strong resistance to diseases and parasites, making them well-suited to India's challenging climatic conditions.

Known for their meat quality, Nellore sheep are a favourite among meat producers and farmers seeking hardy and productive animals. Some key features are:

  • They are tall sheep with little hair except at withers, brisket, and breech.
  • They have drooping and long hair.
  • Most Nellore sheep carry wattles.
  • The male Nellore sheep have an average body of 36 kg, and the female sheep have 28 kg.
  • Nellore Sheep breed is the tallest sheep breed in India.

Bannur Kuri

Top Sheep Breeds - Bannuri Kuri

Originating from Karnataka's Bannur region, the Bannur Kuri breed is highly valued for its wool and meat production. These sheep are characterized by their distinctive short tail, making them stand out among other breeds.

With a focus on sustainable farming, the Bannur Kuri breed is considered an asset for rural communities, providing essential resources while being well-adapted to local environments.

Chennai Red

Top Sheep Breeds - Chennai Red

The Chennai Red sheep breed, as the name suggests, thrives in the coastal regions of Tamil Nadu. They are found in the districts of Chennai, Thiruvannamalai, Villupuram, and Kancheepuram. Known for their reddish-brown coat, these sheep possess a unique ability to adapt to both humid conditions and scarcity of grazing resources.

Chennai Red sheep contribute to wool production and play a substantial role in supporting the livelihoods of coastal communities. Some key features are:

  • Most Chennai Red Sheep breeds are found in purple colour.
  • Some sheep's foreheads contain coloured strips.
  • The adult male average body of Chennai Red Sheep is 36 kg.
  • The adult female average body of Chennai Red Sheep is 24 kg.

Deccani Sheep

Top Sheep Breeds - Deccani Sheep

Hailing from the Deccan plateau, the Deccani sheep breed has earned its reputation as a hardy and versatile breed. It is an admixture of hairy types of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh and woolly types of Rajasthan. These sheep are well-suited to semi-arid regions and are often raised for meat and wool production.

Deccani sheep possess a natural resistance to many common diseases, making them an asset for farmers seeking low-maintenance livestock. The key features are:

  • This sheep breed is small and hardy, and well settled in poor pastoral conditions.
  • They have coloured fleece, grey and black colours being more dominant.
  • The Deccani sheep breed has an annual yield of wool being 4.54 kg per sheep.
  • The flocks of this sheep breed are maintained chiefly for mutton.

Garole Sheep

Top Sheep Breeds - Garole Sheep

The Garole sheep breed, native to West Bengal, holds a special place in India's sheep farming landscape. These sheep are known for their prolificacy, meaning they have a high rate of reproduction.

Garole sheep are often utilized in crossbreeding programs to enhance the reproductive abilities of other breeds. This breed's unique traits contribute to sustainable breeding practices and genetic diversity.

Jaisalmeri Sheep

Top Sheep Breeds - Jaisalmeri Sheep

Hailing from the arid regions of Rajasthan, the Jaisalmeri sheep breed is a true example of nature's adaptation. These sheep are remarkably well-suited to survive in harsh desert conditions with limited resources.

Their wool is highly prized for its quality, and they play a vital role in sustaining livelihoods in Rajasthan's challenging landscapes.

Pugal Sheep

Top Sheep Breeds - Pugal Sheep

The Pugal sheep breed, found in Tamil Nadu, is recognized for its distinctive appearance, marked by its short stature and compact body. These sheep are highly resilient and well-adapted to hot and humid climates.

The Pugal breed's meat is appreciated for its tenderness and flavour, making it a favourite among consumers.

Mecheri Sheep

Top Sheep Breeds - Mecheri Sheep

Mecheri sheep, native to Tamil Nadu, are particularly known for their fine wool production. They are found in Namakkal, Karur, Erode, Salem, and a few parts of the Dharampuri districts of Tamil Nadu. These sheep are a valuable resource for the textile industry, providing wool that is often used in weaving traditional garments.

Apart from wool, Mecheri sheep also contribute to meat production, supporting the income and sustenance of many farming communities. The key features are:

  • The Mecheri sheep breed has no horns for both males and females.
  • The adult male average body of Mecheri sheep is 36 kg.
  • The adult female average body of Mecheri sheep is 22 kg.
  • They have medium-sized bodies and contain pale purplish skin colour.
  • The tail of this sheep breed is smaller and slender.

Mandya Sheep

Top Sheep Breeds - Mandya Sheep

Hailing from Karnataka's Mandya district, the Mandya sheep breed has gained popularity for its dual-purpose nature. These sheep are raised for both meat and wool production, making them a versatile choice for farmers.

Mandya sheep is a testament to India's rich agricultural diversity, catering to the needs of different regions and farming practices. The key characteristics are:

  • Both male and female Mandya sheep are polled.
  • They have a compact body with typical reversed "u" shaped conformation from the back.
  • They have long, leafy ears and drooping.
  • This breed has the best mutton-type conformation among the other Indian sheep breeds.

Tiruchy Black

Top Sheep Breeds - Tiruchy Black

As the name suggests, the Tiruchy Black sheep breed is native to Tamil Nadu's Trichy region. They are found in Trichy, Salem, Dharampuri, and Perambalur districts of Tamil Nadu. These sheep are known for their striking black coat and are often raised for meat production.

Their ability to thrive in local conditions makes them an important asset for farmers in the region. Some key characteristics are:

  • They have a black colour body.
  • The adult male Trichy black sheep are found with horns, while the females are without horns.
  • The ears of the Trichy black sheep are smaller and face forward and downwards.
  • The average male and female weight of Trichy black sheep is 26 kg and 19 kg, respectively.


India's sheep breeds reflect the country's diverse landscapes and agricultural traditions. As of 2023, these breeds continue to play a vital role in maintaining rural livelihoods and contributing to the nation's economy. From the hardy Nellore sheep to the versatile Mandya sheep, each breed carries a unique story of adaptation, resilience, and a connection to the people and places they call home.

You can learn more about sheep breeds in India; stay tuned with Tractorkarvan!

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