Sheep of the Week: Cormo

Posted by Karen King on

Since I've missed a week (or so!) I bring you the Cormo, an Australian breed of sheep developed in Tasmania by crossing Corriedale rams with superfine Saxon Merino ewes in the early 1960s. (The name Cormo is derived from the names of two of the parent breeds, Corriedale and Merino.)

To know the Cormo, we need to meet its forebears, the Corriedale and a specific  line of the Merino, the Saxon Merino. 

The Corriedale: One parent line of the Cormo is the Corriedale.  The Corriedale is the oldest of all the crossbred breeds, a Merino-Lincoln cross developed almost simultaneously in Australia and New Zealand. With the Corriedale, the goal was to develop a breed that would thrive in lower rainfall areas and supply long-staple wool. (James Little was the original breeder. The name "Corriedale" comes from a property in the South Island of New Zealand, where he conducted his work.) Corriedales bring a tendency to a long life span, hardiness and docility, and high fertility rates to the Cormo breed. 

                         Corriedale                                              Merino

 Lincoln                                                          

The Lincoln, sometimes called the Lincoln Longwool, is the largest British sheep, and lends qualities of its superior fleece first to the Corriedale, and through them, to the Cormo. Lincolns were developed specifically to produce the heaviest, longest and most lustrous fleece of any breed in the world. Great numbers were exported to many countries to improve the size and wool quality of their native breeds. Now, however, it is one of Britain's rarer breeds, categorized as "at risk" by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust. There are fewer than 1500 registered breeding females in the UK.

The Merino "parent" used to develop the Cormo were imported to Australian and New Zealand from the Royal Escurial flock in Saxony (southern Germany). 

Saxon Merino

Todays Cormo sheep have a "polled," or hornless, open face, are highly fertile, fast-growing, medium-sized overall, and carry a fleece of about 18 to 23 microns in diameter. 

Cormo

The breed is mostly found in the south eastern states of Australia, though are also exported to Argentina, China, the US, Italy and Belgium.


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