Leccese Sheep

Ark of taste
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The Leccese (or Moscia Leccese) is an Italian sheep breed raised primarily for the production of milk. The milk from this sheep is mainly used in the preparation of Pecorino Leccese cheese. It is of medium-to-heavy build and has a light, elongated head. Open horns and spiraled horns are frequently seen in the males, and the females have an absence of horns. The ears are medium-sized and almost horizontal. It has a short tuft of wool in the front. The trunk is long, with withers shorter than the rump and hips. It has a long and thin tail. The udders are well developed. The limbs are long and straight. It has white fleece (in general) with some individuals having variations in black fleece. Locks of wool are open and conical shaped with heavy threads. The face, throat and limbs are not covered in wool. The skin is pink with white wool with black spots on the chest; there is silky black hair on the face, limbs are black or speckled, and natural openings (such as the mouth) are black. This breed is believed to have originated from the Asian or Syrian Sanson breed (Ovis aries asiatica). They were imported to the Salento area in the middle ages. They original developed in Salento (in Puglia, in southern Italy), but some groups spread as far as the province of Matera in southern Calabria. Once they were considered a triple-use breed (for milk, meat and wool), and their rusticity made them extraordinarily well-adapted to the poor grazing conditions, drought and rough terrain, as its unmistakable pointed muzzle allows it to graze among the rocky pastures and Salento’s notoriously sparse grasses. It is at risk of disappearing due to the current policies implemented by organizations responsible for animal husbandry; for the past two decades, this breed was regularly crossed with purebred Bergamo and Comisana sheep. The result was the creation of a very diverse population, and had the effect of making the pure Leccese sheep almost extinct.Photo: Agraria.org 

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