Ark of Taste
Gulf Coast Sheep
Gulf Coast sheep are descendents of Spanish flocks of sheep that were brought to the New World by explorers and settlers in the 1500’s. The Spanish sheep in the Southeast were shaped primarily by natural selection, gradually becoming adapted to the heat and humidity of the environment. Spanish missionaries, Native Americans, and European settlers used Gulf Coast sheep across the Southeast and as far north as the Carolinas. These sheep fit their challenging environment so well that for centuries they were the only sheep to be found in the Deep South, where they were the main source of wool and sheep meat. This breed produces low levels of lanolin in their wool creating a finer taste that is less gamey or mutton-like.
The Gulf Coast sheep are characterized by the lack of wool on their faces, necks, legs, and bellies, which is a direct trait of their adaptation to the heat and humidity of the South. Unfortunately, with the introduction of other, more productive sheep breeds in the Southeast, the Gulf Coast sheep were discarded by most farmers. The breed is now alive due to the preservation efforts of a few southern families.
Meat of the Gulf Coast sheep is extremely tender, moist and balanced with a mild, clean earth flavor.