<< Back to main


Posted 10/7/2010 8:11pm by Eugene Wyatt.

Jeff called and said there were some big Corriedales for sale at the Big E in Springfield.  Monday before last I drove up listening to The Counterlife by Phillip Roth on Audible.  Roth rivets you with his characters in continual conflict with others or with themselves.   I may re-read his Sabbath's Theater soon to remind myself of his mix of high and low registers as pointed out by James Wood in his How Fiction Works.  I wasn't sure where I was driving until I saw a big ferris wheel arc from the trees to come down and disappear into the low buildings.  These must be the grounds; I must be there.  I parked and found the the sheep barn that smelled of sheep on alfalfa.

The corriedales were big, very big.  They were still lambs, spring lambs, not yet a year old, and they weighed almost 200 pounds, they weighed what my mature merino rams weigh, and they stood taller at the withers by close to 6", very big boys indeed.   Jeff said that when fully mature they would weigh 300 lbs. 

I needed carcass size in my lambs and Corriedales seemed to have the genetics of what I was looking for.

The Corriedale is an in-bred half-breed with Merino on the dam's side and the English Lincoln longwool on the sire's side. The name Corriedale was chosen to be the proper name for the breed in 1902. The New Zealand Sheep Breeders Association began publishing Corriedale pedigrees in 1911; however, it was 1924 before a flock book was published by the Corriedale Sheep Society of New Zealand.

The Corriedale was developed in an effort to establish a true dual purpose breed, combining the best traits of the wool breeds and the meat breeds. The result is a sheep that excels in total commercial returns, yielding a heavy valuable fleece and a high quality carcass. Additionally, Corriedales are known for their mothering ability and their ability to forage under a variety of climatic conditions.

In 1914 the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture appointed Professor F.R. Marshall, head sheepman of the Bureau of Animal Husbandry, and Frank S. King, of Laramie, Wyoming (representing the National Wool Growers Association), to begin a search for a new dual purpose sheep. They traveled to New Zealand, where they selected and imported 65 ewes and 10 rams to the government experiment station in Wyoming.

From the website of the American Corriedale Association.

I bought three rams.  Putting big Corriedales on my little superfine Merino ewes should give me larger market lambs and give me wool I could keep and spin a new more durable line of yarn, or so I hope.  The lambs I will have bred with the Corriedales will be Cormos, another cross breed using Merino mother stock: 1/4 Medium Merino, 1/4 Lincoln Long Wool, 1/2 Superfine Merino.  As far as the carcass characteristics go, we will see what lambs sired by the Corriedales look like next spring,  examining their sizes, their weights and their growth rates, etc.; and more importantly, we will class the lamb's wool, looking at its fineness, its color and its yield, etc. to see how much wool quality we had to give up to get bodysize; that should determine if we want to grow out some of the offspring and continue this breeding experiment.

The rams go in with the ewes on the 12th of this month.

Note: this year the majority of my Saxon Merino ewes will be bred by Saxon Merino rams.  I am, and will always be, a Saxon Merino breeder.