The Romeldale is a breed of domestic sheep native to the United States. The breed's name refers to the Romney rams and Rambouillet ewes which were crossed to create it around 1915. The California Variegated Mutant or CVM is a rare sub-type of the Romeldale breed known for its unusual color, and is considered a derivative of the Romeldale. The majority of sources (as well as the breed association) refers to the two together as Romeldale/CVM.
The Romeldale breed was developed in the early 1900s by A.T. Spencer, who crossed Romney rams which had been exhibited at the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition with his flock of Rambouillet ewes. The breeding focused on producing soft, fine wool and good fleece weight, as well as medium to large market lambs for meat. Development of the Romeldale continued throughout the 1940s and 50s, but a breed association for the original Romeldale alone was never formed and it is largely confined to its home state of California.
Glen Eidman, during the 1960s, found a unique pattern in one of his Romeldale ewes. After subsequent breedings, the same pattern was found in one of his rams. After many attempts and selective breeding of the two sheep, a consistent badger-faced color pattern was found and the California Variegated Mutatnt was born. Mr. Eidman bred sheep for over 15 years without selling off any stock. In 1982, Mr. Eidman's flock of 75 sheep were dispersed to many different buyers throughout the United States. Different farms had different breeding goals. Thus, only a handful of farms kept the breed pure, without crossing them to other sheep breeds.
Today the Romeldale/CVM is still a very rare breed, and the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy lists it as critical. The soft wool and the unusual colors of the CVM are especially prized by handspinners.
Romeldales and CVMs are generally considered two types of the same breed. Other than color they share most of the same physical and temperamental traits, and are medium to large sheep at 150-275 pounds.
The original Romeldales are mostly white, through any sheep not conforming to the CVM standard may be registered as Romeldales. CVMs are all natural-colored sheep with a badger face pattern. Unusually for natural colored sheep, their fleece tends to darken with age rather than grow lighter. Both Romeldales and CVMs are polled.
- Dohner, Janet Vorwald (2002). The encyclopedia of historic and endangered livestock and poultry breeds. Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-08880-9.
- Simmons, Paula; Carol Ekarius (2001). Storey's guide to raising sheep. Storey Publishing. ISBN 978-1-58017-262-2.
- "California Variegated Mutant". Breeds of Livestock. Oklahoma State University, Dept. of Animal Science. Retrieved 2009-04-03.
- "Romeldale/CVM Sheep". American Livestock Breeds Conservancy.
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