How to forget our black Merino sheep, to forget her would be to deny the origin of everything….

A friend, very close to us, told us:

The native color of our Merino breed was black.

It was from the wool of the black sheep that the Celtiberian sagos or capes were made. Its production was so intense that it served as tribute among the Hispanic peoples during the Roman conquest. We know, for example, that the Thermantines and Numantines had to deliver 9,000 cloaks to General Pompey as a war payment, along with 3,000 ox hides and 800 horses.

From the crossbreeding of animals and their subsequent selection, breeders focused their efforts on achieving a white variety of Merino that retained its good wool qualities and was easier to dye.

In the black variety, some of the characteristics of the Merino breed are even more strongly manifested, such as its high hardiness, its gregarious character and maternal instinct. resistance to periods of food shortage and recovery capacity, aptitude for long journeys and resistance to diseases.

During the 1950s, wool paid very well and the black wool was used for cassocks, uniforms and shepherds’ blankets. The main reason for this was the decrease in the number of priests, soldiers and shepherds, and the ranchers had no choice but to favor the white merino. From the 1970s onwards, the depreciation of wool extended to white wool and the crisis particularly affected the breed in general, traditionally destined for wool production.

Among the beliefs surrounding the black sheep of the flock, we can say that these animals enjoyed other privileges compared to the rest of the flockThe animal could never be marked with the breeder’s seal and never in the life of the animal could they be escodar (cut the tail) nor notch (ear marking); they also could not be slaughtered, that is, they died of old age. They say they are repentant witches who will always look after the flock.

We must thank the black merino breeders, for their tenacity and love for this breed, they have managed to recover it from its near extinction and are giving value back to their unique productions.

Congratulations to all!

Morphological characteristics

The Merina Negra variety is an eumetric ewe, with a straight profile and medium proportions.

The horns, when present, in males are strong, triangular in section and have a striated surface with transverse grooves; and in females, the presence of horns is very rare and, when present, they are generally rudimentary.

Weight varies with respect to males They weigh about 80 kilos, 20 kilos less than the opposite gender.

The Merino Black sheep breed is distinguished by its uniform black color throughout the body. Occasionally, due to atmospheric agents, its color may deteriorate to a dark brown.

Black Merino Sheep in danger

The Black Merino Sheep is in danger of extinction, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. The history of its extinction process is closely related to the history and economy of the country. The variety of black Merino was diminishing and remained in the hands of certain breeders and even as a way of distinguishing herds.

The characteristics of the wool have been one of the main causes of the neglect of this breed. Its difficult dyeing process, being a very dark coat, has produced disinterest in the breed, to the point of abandoning it to its mercy. Ignoring all of the benefits, outlined above, that black Merino wool does offer.

With the advent of ecology in everyday life, interest in the textile properties of sheep has grown. A high quality material, environmentally friendly and without animal suffering. There are about 12,000 specimens in the country. Alarming data if we take into account that “they were the first settlers of the peninsula”.