Santa Cruz-A Rare Breed Among Rare Breeds

Santa Cruz Sheep

Originally uploaded by tall2night

I first encountered the Santa Cruz through the pages of Spin Off Magazine. Deb Robson wrote an article about these sheep who had been fending for themselves on the small islands off the coast of California. It is uncertain where these sheep originally came from. There is certainly merino blood in them. Possibly Rambouillet and Spanish Churro in there as well.

In 1978 The Nature Conservancy (TNC) purchased the islands and in 1980 because of the restoration needed, started removing and eliminating the sheep from them. The American Livestock Breed Conservancy (ALBC) convinced TNC of the importance of these sheep and some were spared. These ended up and have slowly trickled into the hands of concerned shepherds. Best estimate I can find, there is about 200 breeding age sheep scattered around the US and on the island, not all were eliminated.

Recently I have seen Santa Cruz fiber for sale so who knows what the future will hold for this island breed.


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