Tuesday
Apr192011

Our Ewes' Breeding

The majority of our ewes are naturally white Columbia's. Columbia sheep are a medium-wool breed developed in the United States using Lincoln and Rambouillet sheep crosses. The breed was developed primarily for the Western ranges but is also used successfully in farm flocks. Columbias are white-faced, hornless, and relatively large in size and are prolific breeders. The average fleece weight of the ewes ranges from 10 to 16 pounds (4.5 - 7.3 kg) with a yield of 45 to 55%. The staple length of the wool ranges from 3.5 to 5 inches (9-13 cm). The wool is classified as medium wool with a numeric count of 50's -60's. The wool varies from 31.0 to 24.0 microns. For more information look below for information about the development and characteristics of the Columbia.

We have also purchased a few Rambouillet ewes, and used a Rambouillet ram for 3 years.  We have twice purchased Targhee rams (3/4 fine wool breeds, 1/4 long wool breeds) rams.  We use these finer wooled breeds to create our replacement females (future moms) in an effort to improve the fineness of our wool.

Columbia Breed Info

Columbia sheep were developed by the United States Department of Agriculture as a true breeding type to replace cross breeding on the range.  In 1912, rams of the long wool breeds were crossed with high quality Rambouillet ewes to produce large ewes yielding more pounds of wool and more pounds of lamb. The first cross Lincoln-Rambouillet line was the most promising of all crosses. The Bureau of Animal Industry maintained this line and by intensive breeding and selection produced a true breeding strain with characteristics of the superior crossbred line. The original cross was made at Laramie, Wyoming, and the Foundation of the Government Columbia flock was moved to the Sheep Experiment Station at Dubois, Idaho, in 1918.

The outstanding record made by Columbia's on the western ranges has created an interest among sheep people of other areas. While they were originally developed for range conditions, they have proved admirably adaptable to the lush grasses and farm flock management of the middle west, east, north and south.

The mature Columbia rams weigh between 225 and 300 pounds (100-135 kg) and the females weigh 150 to 225 pounds (68 - 102 kg).

Targhee Breed Info

The Targhee is one of America's youngest breeds. It was developed in 1926 at the U.S. Sheep Experiment Station in Dubois, Idaho, from Rambouillet, Columbia and Corriedale crosses. The Targhee derives its name from the Targhee National Forest on which the experiment station's flock grazes in the summer. The forest was named for a chief of the Bannock Indians who had lived in the area in the 1860's.

The Targhee is a dual-purpose sheep with good meat type and a heavy fleece of high quality wool. They are especially popular in Montana, Wyoming and South Dakota, where their ¾ fine wool and ¼ long wool breeding is favored by western ranchers.

Targhee ewes have good mothering and milking ability. Mature Targhee ewes raise a high percentage of twins under range conditions. Targhee ewes excel in pounds of lamb weaned per ewe bred.  Mature Targhee ewes shear heavy fleeces with a yield of 5 or 6 pounds of clean scoured wool (10 to 12 pounds of grease wool). Mature Targhee rams shear 8 to 11 pounds of clean scoured wool (16 to 22 pounds of grease wool). Twelve months growth of wool should exceed three inches in length. Desirable Targhee wool is 24.94 to 22.05 microns (@ 60’s to 62’s in spinning count or half blood). The coarsest acceptable micron on the side is 26.39 (58’s). Sheep finer than 22.04 (64’s) are acceptable with sufficient staple length. Fleeces should not vary more than 2.88 microns (2 spinning counts) from side to britch, with 27.84 (56’s) the coarsest acceptable britch. Fleeces should be dense, uniform, and attractive in character.

The Targhee is a large sheep.  Mature rams weigh from 200 to 300 pounds. Breeding ewes weigh from 140 to 200 pounds, depending on feed conditions.

 Rambouillet Breed Info

The Rambouillet is the "backbone" of the American Sheep Industry, forming the foundation of most western range flocks and raised throughout the United States. The Rambouillet descends entirely from the Spanish Merino. In fact, it is the French version of the Merino developed when Louis XVI imported 386 Spanish Merinos in 1786 for his estate at Rambouillet.

Though named for the town in France, the breed owes much of its development to Germany and the United States. The Rambouillet is a dual purpose sheep, producing a desirable carcass and good fine wool. Rambouillets are large sized, rugged and long-lived with a strong flocking instinct. Rambouillet ewes possess many desirable traits which have resulted in their inclusion in crossbreeding programs to improve lamb production.

Breed descriptions taken from:  www.sheep101.info/ and breed websites.