Teteven Sheep

Ark of taste
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Тетевенска Овца

The Teteven sheep (Tetevenska ovtsa) is one of Bulgaria’s indigenous sheep breeds. It belongs to long, thin-tailed group of sheep breeds. The main area of distribution includes the Central Stara Planina (Balkan Mountains) near the town of Teteven and the villages of Ribaritza, Cherni Vit, Golyam Izvor and Galata. The sheep’s body is rectangular in shape, and the head has a straight profile line. The ears are comparatively large. Most animals have erect ears, but some have floppy ears. The face, legs and the belly are free from wool. The hooves are strong. The ewes are usually hornless, while rams are horned. The tail is thin, long and wool-covered. The fleece, face and legs are mostly white.

The average withers height for both sexes of Teteven sheep is 63 cm, with body length of about 69 cm. The live body weight of ewes is between 38-47 kg, while in rams it is between 65-80 kg. Teteven sheep are used for milk, wool and meat, but the milk is especially valued. The milking yield is 65-75 liters per year. The milk of the Teteven sheep is used for preparation of Tcherni Vit Green Cheese (bit.ly/1ShTsrN). The green cheese is unique with its noble, naturally developed mold. The meat of Teteven sheep is very tender, with a clear color and recognizable taste, which is unforgettable and different than that of other sheep breeds.

The breed’s name comes from the town of Teteven, in the area of which the breed was developed over many years of traditional selection for high quality milk. Other traits of importance for the breeders were fertility of ewes, growth rate of the newborns, color of wool and endurance in severe weather conditions. The Teteven sheep has endangered-maintained status, and its breeding is state supported. The population of the breed is very low – in 2011 there were just 694 ewes and 17 rams in only five flocks under breeding control. Therefore, genetic erosion is leading factor threatening this species.

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