Like so many breeds the exact origin of the Chios is unknown. Some sources suggest it is the result of crossbreeding between local sheep of the island of Chios and breeds from Anatolia, possibly the Kivircik and Daglic breeds.
The Chios is typically white with black, occasionally brown, spots around the eyes, and on the ears, nose, belly and legs. The entire head is often black. The mature size of the ewes is typically 105 - 155 pounds (48-70 kg) and rams from 145-200 lbs (65-90 kg) indicating regional differences. Female conformation is typically dairy. The breed is classified as semi-fat-tailed.
The Chios are early maturing and can be mated at 8-9 months. The breed is non-seasonal with some ewes reported to have two lambings in a year. Research has shown the ovualtion rate to range from 2.9 to 3.3 in mature ewes. The average litter size ranges from 1.5 to 2.3 lambs. The birth weight of the lambs range from 8-8.5 lbs (3.75-3.85 kg) and 45 day weights of 32.5-35 lbs (14.8-15.61 kg).
Milk production for the breed varies from 265 to 660 pounds (120-300 kg) of milk per lacation depending on management and husbandry conditions. The highest production recorded is 1317 pounds (597.4 kg) during a 272 day lactation.
Fleece weight ranges from 2.6 to 5.5 pounds (1.2-2.5 kg). Average wool quality measurements are: fiber diameter, 27-35 µm; spinning count 44's to 56's and staple length, 8-13 cm. Quality within a fleece is generally consistent but there is considerable variability between individuals.
Hatziminaoglou, I., A. Georgoudis, N. Zervas and J. Boyazoglu. 1996. Prolific Breeds of Greece. Chap 3.3, Prolific Sheep. (M.H. Fahmy, ed.), CAB International, University Press, Cambridge 542 pp.
Mason, I.L. 1988. World Dictionary of Livestock Breeds. Third Edition. C.A.B International.
Mason, I.L., 1980. Prolific Tropical Sheep. Animal Production and Health Paper 17. Publ. by FAO, Rome, 124 pp.
R. E. McDowell, Professor Emeritus of International Animal Science, Cornell University, and provided by Paul O. Brackelsberg, Professor of Animal Science, Iowa State University
Roger A. High, State Sheep Extension Specialist, Ohio State University