The Columbia Sheep is one of the first breeds of sheep developed in the United States. The product of United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and university research, it was intended to be an improved breed specially built for the Western ranges of the country (where the majority of sheep raising takes place). Beginning in 1912 in Laramie, Wyoming, Lincoln rams were crossed with Rambouillet ewes.
Appearance / health:
An adult ram weigh between 275 and 400 lb (125 and 180 kg). Females weigh 175 to 300 lb (79 to 140 kg). An average fleece of a ewe weighs from 10 to 16 lb (4.5 to 7.3 kg) with a yield of 45 to 55%. The staple length of the wool ranges from 3.5 to 5 in (8.9 to 13 cm). The wool is classified as medium wool with a spin count of 50s to 60s. The wool varies from 31.0 to 24.0 microns.
One of the most common ailments among sheep is a viral skin disease called soremouth or “orf.” Ringworm or “club lamb fungus” is a rash also common among sheep. And much like “mad cow disease,” sheep can have a similar neurological ailment called “scrapie.” Sheep health issues should be addressed by a qualified veterinarian. Good health is promoted by sanitary habitat conditions and proper nutrition.
Behavior / temperament:
Sheep are herd animals that rely on staying together as a flock to protect themselves from predators. They are highly sensitive to predators because they are basically “prey animals.” They sense the presence of threat from several hundred feet away (they are able to twist and turn their ears to detect potential danger) and instinctively flee instead of fight or attack. While fleeing, sheep run in a winding pattern to be able to see what is behind them.
Housing / diet:
Sheep are grazing animals and do well living their entire lives outdoors. They get sufficient exercise and fresh air out in the field. They do need shelter from bad storms and unusually hot days. Many sheep keepers install field structures to provide shade, for example, hutches, domes, carports, and makeshift sheds. A common shade structure is a hoop house, like an open hangar or a greenhouse, which has a metal arched frame covered with tarp or other heavy-duty fabric.
larger sheep, excellent dual purpose, quality wool, rich milk, meat purposes
white hooves, foot care, muddy ground
These sheep are great for wool, but they are a little cranky and hard to keep maintained. Sheering every year is a tough job, and they always seemed to find a way out of the fence.
Sheep are kind of a pain in general, but for wool I don't think there is a better breed..
From farmdude Nov 13 2013 3:11PM
The Three Ladies
Columbia sheep are an excellent dual purpose breed. They produce quality wool, and yet are hefty enough to sell for meat purposes.
We kept three Columbia ewes solely for the purpose of crossbreeding to our Suffolk and Rambouillet. They were very gentle sheep, some of the most trusting of humans.
Columbias birth easily and prolifically too, and since they are larger sheep, they can handle cross-bred lambs very well. They did commonly have twins and triplets, which was great for increasing the flock. However, they would sometimes refuse a triplet. They produced a large quantity of rich milk which meant their lambs grew at a faster rate than some of the other breeds.
The hardest part about dealing with Columbias was their foot care. Their white hooves were prone to hoof rot and other issues, so they had to be cleaned and trimmed almost weekly. Since walking on muddy ground can contribute to this issue, it was important to keep their feet dry. Not easy in Oregon! As well as routine foot care, rotating them from pasture to pasture quite often helped immensely in keeping their feet healthy.
Columbias are smart too. They like to test fences for weaknesses, and cannot resist putting their heads through any opening. If they get out, they can always find their way back in at dinner time.
At the time that I worked with them, their wool was popular. It was pure white, easy to card, and very accepting of all sorts of dyes. Crossbred lambs also sold well for meat, since they were heavy..
From JKinsey Mar 10 2014 12:57AM