Rya Sheep, Characteristics, Uses & Best 10+Information

Rya sheep is a breed of sheep that is native to Sweden. They have some unique features that help them survive in the rugged terrain of Scandinavia. They are also harder friendly, as they are gentle and docile animals. Though rya sheep have been around for centuries, they were not recognized as an official breed until the early 2000’s when a single farmer recognized their superior qualities and started to develop them as purebred.

Rya Sheep herd
Rya Sheep herd

Today, you can find rya sheep all over Sweden and even parts of Norway but their numbers are still small compared to other breeds worldwide.


How to identify Rya sheep

You can tell the difference between a rya sheep and a common sheep by looking at their wool. Ryas have a unique, dual-layered coat that resembles the structure of human hair. This allows them to live in cold temperatures and still stay warm. They also have small horns on their heads and long tails with black markings that resemble the tails of horses. Their ears are small and pointed, which is another distinguishing feature from other sheep.

Behavioral characteristics

They are very tame and gentle animals. They are also said to be one of the most intelligent breeds, as they adapt to any situation quite quickly. This is why many farmers decided to raise them in the first place because they needed an animal that could withstand cold temperatures and help with herding.

Rya Sheep for Wool
Rya Sheep for Wool

As long as you treat them properly, ryas are some of the friendliest animals you can have on your farm. They can be fully domesticated, which means that they will follow you around like a dog or never leave your side.

They are also great for mothers who are raising their children, as rya sheep are very protective of small ones. They have long lives, often living up to 16 years. This is one of rya sheep’s most unique features compared to other breeds because many other breeds suffer from birth defects and early deaths in their first years.


Rya sheep are very useful when it comes to farming. Because of their docile nature, they can tolerate harsh conditions and cold weather, which is very beneficial for farmers who live in the countryside. Some farmers also use them to look after older animals such as oxen, horses, or donkeys.

If you keep these hybrids in a pasture with other livestock like cows, they will graze near them in a way that makes it seem like they are mooing like oxen. They reproduce fairly quickly and make excellent mothers.


Rya sheep are susceptible to the same diseases that other sheep are. They can also be injured in case of predators or accidents.


Rya sheep are technically crossbreeds between an ibex and a domestic sheep. The ibex is a species that looks like an American mountain goat, but with horns that stick out from their heads. Some people refer to the ibex as the “American antelope”, which demonstrates how they resemble goats while being larger and more dangerous animals.

Special Considerations

Rya sheep are very friendly animals that have no bad habits. Their only downfall is the fact that they can make great pets, but they need to be handled carefully because of their small size. Some rya sheep farmers also keep them on farms with other livestock, but it’s not recommended for safety reasons since rya sheep are prone to many diseases like all sheep. However, review the full breed profile of the rya sheep in the following table.

Best 10 + information

Breed NameRya sheep.
Breed PurposeSheep for meat and wool.
Country of OriginSweden, Norway, and Finland.
Breed Class, sizeSmall animals.
Weight35 to 65 lbs (16 to 29 kgs).
Climate ToleranceCold and hot conditions.
DietHigh fiber diet, hay, and grass.
ColorBrown and black.
TemperamentVery docile and non-aggressive, friendly and shepherding.
As PetsYes, normally tame and good with kids, but small so should be kept indoors.  
RarityRare, but increasing in numbers.  
Lifespan16 years.

Leave a Comment