Breeds of Livestock, Department of Animal Science
Breeds of Livestock - Racka Sheep
Also Know By: Ratca (Romanian), Hortobágy Racka, Hungarian Zackel
The Racka is a unique breed with both ewes and rams possessing long spiral shaped horns. The breed is of the Zackel type and originated in Hungary. The breed is used for milk, wool and meat production. Mature males may have horns as long as two feet or more. The minimum standard length is given as 50 cm (20 inches) for rams and 30 cm (12-15 inches) for ewes. The cork-screw horns protrude almost straight upward from the top of the head.
The breed is found in two major color patterns. The most common shows brown hair covering the heads and legs with the fleece varying in color from dark brown to light brown and white. Individuals are also found which are solid black. The wool tips on these animals fades to a reddish black with exposure to sunlight and with age the points of the fleece will turn gray. The minimum exceptable mature body weight for ewes is 40 kg (88 lbs) and for rams 60 kg (132 lbs). The rams average 72 cm (29 inches) in height.
The wool is variable within the breed. It is generally described as having a fiber diameter of 12-40 microns. The yield is 38-65 percent. Staple length is approximately 30 cm (12 inches). Fleece weight must be at least 3 kg (6.6 lbs) for rams. The softness and crimp of the wool would indicated its interest in handspinners.
The Racka has been described as a hardy animal and is often used in crossbreeding due to its ability to pass this survivability to its offspring. The breeds unique appearance and quiet disposition would make it a desirable animal for hobby situations.
Correspondence, Elite Genetics, Waukon, IA
Mason, I.L. World Dictionary of Livestock Breeds. Third Edition. C.A.B International. 1988
Elite Genetics, Waukon, IA