What is a Racka sheep? (Racka sheep)

The Racka sheep comes from Hungary. A striking feature of this sheep are the helical horns on its head. This sheep breed is used for its milk, wool and meat. The sheep is naturally a bit shy, is still close to nature and is resistant to both extreme cold and extreme heat. Sheepskins come in three colors: black, white and brown. With the long double coat they have they stay warm in the winter and keep the warm outside in the summer.

What are characteristics of the Racka sheep breed?

The Racka sheep is a small sheep with large horns and a long body with fine bones. A ram has a shoulder height of ± 70cm and a ewe has a shoulder height of ± 65cm. Both rams and ewes have horns. The horns are in a V-shape on the head and usually point upwards. The horns should have a nice twisted screw shape. The horns of a ram can reach a length of ± 50cm! And the horns of a ewe can reach a length of ± 30cm! The number of rotations of the horns can vary from 1.5 to 4.

The most common wool color in Racka sheep is brown. If the sheep is brown, it also has a brown muzzle and brown horns. The horns of white sheep are white to cream, with a light colored nose. The wool of the Racka sheep consists of undercoat and hairs. The length of the wool varies from 20 to 35 cm. The annual wool yield is about 3 to 4 kilograms for a ram and 2 to 3 kilograms for a ewe.

An adult ram has a weight of about 70 kilograms. And an adult ewe has a weight of about 50 kilograms. The gestation period is on average 150 days. Lambing is also easy and little to no help is needed from a veterinarian. The ewes also have well-developed mothering characteristics.

The history of Racka sheep

The Racka sheep is an ancient and rare breed of sheep; the sheep originated in Hungary. Remains of sheep have been found in Southwest Asia that are about eleven thousand years old and show several similarities to the current Racka sheep. Wall paintings have been found in ancient Egypt from over 6000 years before our era where sheep are depicted with helical horns and a long tail.

Several excavations brought back, among other things, bones from the Middle Ages that correspond to the current Racka sheep. The sheep occurs mainly on large Hungarian Plains and was brought by shepherds in the 13th century (year 1201 to 1300).

The Racka sheep was once taken by various peoples from its original habitat. It was, among others, Avars, Petschenegen, Jazygen and Huns who took the breed of sheep on treks towards Europe 1500 years ago.

Until about the 18th century (year 1701 to 1800) Racka sheep were still plentiful, at the markets at that time about 50,000 to 60,000 sheep were traded. In 1939 there were only a few sheep left, ± 3500. And during the Second World War Hungary had only 1450 Racka sheep left. In order to prevent the extinction of this sheep breed, the Hungarian government ordered to start breeding with these sheep. Since 1983 the "Association of Breeders of the Hungarian Racka Sheep" exists in Hungary. And since 1993 there were already 5000 Racka sheep running around.