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Karakul sheep

Karakul sheep (kărˈəkəl) [key], breed native to central Asia. The newborn lambs usually have tightly curled black fur and are skinned before they are three days old to provide the commercial lambskin for which the sheep are raised. The finest pelts are often obtained from unborn lambs. A large percentage of this lambskin is classified as Persian lamb, though it may also be called karakul, broadtail, krimmer, or astrakhan, according to the quality and tightness of the curl. The lambs grow rapidly and produce good meat but are seldom raised for this purpose. The grown sheep are medium-sized and broad-tailed; their wool is a mixture of coarse and fine fibers, varying in color from black to shades of tan and gray, and is used in making carpeting and other heavy fabrics. Karakul sheep are raised in several countries of Asia, Europe, Africa, and the Americas. In the United States they are raised on a small scale, chiefly in Texas.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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