There are five breeds listed as critically endangered, according to the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy. The first four, Gulf Coast or Gulf Coast Native, Hog Island, Romeldale/CVM and Santa Cruz are American breeds. The fifth, Leicester Longwool, is an English breed. Like most heritage breeds, these are ideal dual-purpose breeds that provide food and wool while thriving on conditions most modern breeds would not be able to survive in.
In addition to the breeds listed as critically endangered, there are six breeds that are on the threatened list, three on the watch list, and eight on the recovering list. The popular Barbados Blackbelly is recovering, thanks to the efforts of conservationists and the increasing popularity of fiber arts.
If you are considering getting sheep, look at these endangered heritage breeds first. Not only will you help preserve a breed, but also get hearty animals who will be more adaptable to a wider variety of living conditions.