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Animals in Park > JACOB'S FOUR HORN SHEEP
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JACOB'S FOUR HORN SHEEP

The Jacob sheep is a very ancient breed of sheep. In the former Persia, now Iraq, skulls of Jacob-like sheep have been found of about 4,000 years old. The name Jacob sheep comes from a passage in Genesis, following the Bible. Jacob, the son of Isaac, was a shephard keeping the flocks of King Laban, the Syrian, his father-in-law. Because he worked unpaid, it was agreed that he could take as a wage all spotted sheep in the flock. In fact, he was the first breeder that is described using basic genetic techniques. In order to produce as many spotted lambs as possible, he used a spotted ram and so received the majority of the lambs. The Jacob sheep were first brought to Spain by the Phoenicians. Later they came to the British Isles from wrecked ships of the Spanish Armada. Because of their peculiar color and horn structure they were kept in private collections in country parks and stately homes. They stayed a very rare breed until the late 50's (there were only 400 ewes left) when a rehabilitation program was set up. The most distinguishing features of the Jacob sheep are their four horns, although they may have as few as two or as many as six horns. Both sexes are always horned, and the rams tend to have larger and more impressive horns.