Originally uploaded by galut5
While Corriedale is my first love, California Red is the flirtation I cannot resist. When I want the feel of a wool slipping through my fingers I look for Cal Red.
California Red is a very new breed. They were developed in the 1970’s from crosses of Barbados Blackbelly and Tunis breeds. The original idea was to create a wooless sheep with a better carcass. This was a failure, but the offspring were noticed by another breeder and they further developed these into the breed today.
This breed is athletic and deer like in appearance, but have an easy going temperament that makes them easy to handle. They not only handle heat well, but also cold. Flocks of them can be found from Mississippi on north into Canada. From the dry heat of California to the wet and variable temperatures of New Jersey.
I was introduced to California Red wool by a local shepherd. Unfortunately she no longer lives in my area. At that time she was the only breeder in Wisconsin and I haven’t found anyone else in the state that has them.
California Red has a medium fine oatmeal colored wool interspersed with red hairs. The wool portion is finer than Tunis, but the red hairs produce a product better suited to rugs and outerwear. The texture of the fleece hovers between a down type wool and a fine wool. There is a definite lock structure but it is much coarser than many fine wools. The breed also has an excellent carcass that when judged side by side other breeds scores favorably. This breed is well deserving of the dual meat/wool status it has.
If you get a chance, try your hand at some. You just might be surprised.