Breeds used commercially are often selected for high productivity and an intensively farmed environment. These breeds may often be housed permanently. Many will only be housed in winter. They have many traits that make them less hardy than many traditional breeds and breeding stock may have a short life expectancy. They often require a great deal of human care during lambing, calving when shearing and with hoof care. Some breeds are used exclusively for exhibiting and many have characteristics that make them vulnerable when kept extensively/free range.
Most breeds could fit into this category but those listed here are breeds most suited to a traditional small-scale farm although many are used on a large scale. These are breeds that require regular care but not to the degree of those of an intensive system. These breeds are often kept extensively sometimes being housed over winter, although many would cope without permanent winter housing. Many of these breeds are hardy although not so much so as low maintenance breeds yet they are often more productive than low maintenance breeds. Some sheep breeds listed here are more independent than others, many of the mountain breeds for example are very hardy, yet they still require the same general care such as shearing and help at lambing etc. In essence the greater effort the farmer has made to improve productivity in a breed the greater care the breed requires to survive. Breeds become more dependent on the farmer the further they move away from the wild species. However, variation in hardiness and vigour within a breed can be greater than the difference between breeds, so carefully selecting sires that produce vigorous young is important.
These breeds are particularly suited to a low maintenance domestic situation, one where productivity is not the only priority. Longevity, durability, resilience, hardiness a minimal diet and an ability to survive well in a semi feral state if required may be characteristics of some of these breeds. They can survive with the least human care.