Our Fiber Sheep
In 2018 we began to diversify our sheep operation to optimize for quality of wool, and also to bring in breeds that are hardier than the East Friesians and tend to have fewer lambs, to make lambing-season a bit easier for us. We settled on Romneys and Corriedales and brought in small pedigreed starter flocks of both breeds in the summer of 2018. The Corriedales are beautiful, large, sheep with wooly faces and legs. We purchased from an excellent breeder who wins awards for her sheep as well as her fleeces. The Corriedale ewes we bought are all black, but with different degrees of fading in their genetics, so that their fleeces will fade to shades of charcoal grey with a lovely luster. We bought a white Corriedale ram (who we named Dale), with champion fleece-producers in his pedigree. Our ram is registered with the American Corriedale Association. Our black Corriedale ewes are registered with the Natural Colored Wool Growers Association. Their black color comes from a dominant color gene (Ed), but all of our black ewes are heterozygous (Ed/E+), so when they are crossed with Dale, we get either black or white Corriedale lambs.
Our Romneys are smaller sheep than the Corriedales or East Friesians, and like the Corriedales they have wooly faces and legs. The Romneys come from a breeder who has carefully removed all of the dominant black color genetics from her flock, and bred sheep that express recessive color patterns in different lovely shades of pearly grey. We purchased 5 recessive-colored Romney ewes and one recessive-colored Romney ewe lamb, along with one white ewe lamb, and a recessive colored ram, named Mitt.
Our first purebred Romney and Corriedale lambs were born in 2019. In addition, in 2018 and 2019, we crossed our Romney and Corriedale rams with many of our East Friesian ewes. We are thrilled with the overall quality of these crosses, which we are calling “Romnesians” (Romney x East Friesian) and “Friedales” (East Friesian x Corriedale). The first generation of both crosses have gorgeous fleeces with good uniformity of texture and that reflect the character of their Romney and Corriedale parents. The cross-bred lambs grow really well and produce good meat carcasses. They also tend to have very friendly personalities like their East Friesian mothers.
We plan to maintain lines of 50% crosses, while also crossing back to Romney and Corriedale rams to convert the rest of our flock to high-percentage Romney and Corriedale sheep. We will keep purebred lines of the Romneys and Corriedales as well. After 2020 we will no longer be breeding high-percentage East Friesians. For more about the history of our dairy sheep this page tells the story of our much-loved dairy sheep, and the wonderful people and dogs who care for all of our sheep.