Herd of Columbia Sheep

Columbia Sheep Breed: Information, Behavior, and Care

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The Columbia sheep breed is the first breed native to the United States of America. In 1912, Columbia sheep came into existence after the crossbreeding of Lincoln and Rambouillet. The objective was to create a dual-purpose breed that produced more and higher quality wool and lamb.

The Columbia sheep have an attractive face and a proportionate body, with strong legs to support their body weight.

As a dual-purpose breed, these sheep produce high quantities of wool and lean, succulent meat. Moreover, they are one of the fastest-growing sheep in the market.

Quick Facts about the Corriedale Sheep Breed

Country of origin United States of America
Breed name Columbia
Breed purpose Meat, wool
Mature body weight
  • Ram – 225 to 300 lbs.
  • Ewe – 150 to 225 lbs.
Average fiber diameter 27.5 microns
Grease fleece weight 10 to 16 lbs.
Fleece staple length 3 to 5 inches
Care level Low
Temperature Arid climates
Temperament Docile

Herd of Columbia Sheep

The History of the Columbia Sheep of Breed

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) developed the Columbia sheep breed as a true breeding type to replace crossbreeding on the range.

In 1912, scientists chose different rams from the long wool breeds and crossed them with high-quality Rambouillet ewes. The process aimed to create a superior breed that produces high-quality and high-quantity wool and meat.

After several crosses, the Lincoln-Rambouillet combination proved superior to other lines. As a result, the Bureau of Animal Husbandry persisted with the combination, employing methods like intensive breeding and selection to produce what is now called the Columbia sheep breed.

The first Lincoln-Rambouillet cross happened at Laramie, Wyoming. In 1918, the resultant Columbia breed flock was transferred to the Sheep Experiment Station in Dubois, Idaho.

The success of the Columbia sheep breed in the western ranges attracted the interest of breeders from other regions.

Although the breed’s creators intended it for range conditions, the animals adapted well to different climates, particularly the lush green fields and farms in the eastern, northern, and southern regions.

Characteristics of the Columbia Sheep Breed

Columbia sheep are a large breed with a white face. Most of them are white, with wool covering all body parts except the bare face. The sheep have black legs and muzzles.

These features can make you confuse a Columbia sheep with a Corriedale, but the former is larger and heavier.

Upon maturity, Columbia rams weigh between 225 and 300 lbs. while the ewes range between 150 and 225 lbs. As such, Columbia sheep are among the heaviest dual-purpose breeds.

Columbia sheep produce fine, high-quality wool with an average fleece weight of 13 lbs. and a yield ranging from 45% to 55%. Its staple length ranges between 3-5inches. The wool, which varies from 31 to 24 microns, has a numeric count of 50s to 60s and falls under the medium category.

READ ALSO: Corriedale Sheep Breed: Information, Behavior, and Care

Columbia sheep

Typical Behavior of the Columbia Sheep Breed

Columbia sheep are docile, obedient animals that follow their handler’s instructions. They aren’t aggressive or harmful, except for provoked rams. The animals are always alert and respond to the slightest external stimuli, especially noise and movement.

Being a crossbreed, Columbia sheep inherit their temperament from parent species. Lincolns and Rambouillet sheep are quiet and alert, a trait passed on to their offspring.

They also have excellent mothering qualities, including protecting and feeding their lambs until they can survive independently.

READ ALSO: What Is A Yearling Ram?

Advantages of Columbia Sheep

The most significant advantage of the Columbia sheep breed is its ability to produce fine and large quantities of meat and wool.

Each wool fiber is between 31 to 24 microns thick and ranges from 3 to 5 inches long. This makes it ideal for a range of commercial applications. The meat is equally as good.

Furthermore, Columbia sheep can withstand many climatic conditions. This breed can survive throughout the United States despite originating in the western ranges. The sheep are also hardy and fast-growing.

Disadvantages of Columbia Sheep Breed

On the downside, living in extreme cold increases the susceptibility of Columbia sheep to health issues.

If you reside in an area that experiences cold winters, install a heating system in your pens to keep the animals warm during the cold months.

Taking Care of Columbia Sheep

Here are valuable tips on caring for your Columbia sheep.

Provide enough food and supplements

You must provide adequate food and supplements to get high wool and meat yields from your flock. Remember, Columbia sheep are a large breed with higher food demands than other sheep. Ensure that you have enough grass to feed your sheep and provide clean water.

Since Columbia sheep are a fast-growing breed, you will need to provide the necessary supplements for them to mature in time. Commercial feeds contain the vitamins, minerals, and proteins required to facilitate rapid growth.

Observe hygiene

Proper hygiene is vital to keeping your animals healthy. Please avoid overcrowding sheep in a small pen – if you can’t expand their housing, trim your flock by selling the older animals. It is much easier and affordable to manage a small flock.

It’s also advisable to keep the pen clean. Ensure you sweep the droppings every morning, as accumulation creates a breeding ground for pathogens. Ideally, it would help if you lined the floor with sawdust to make cleaning easier.

Conduct Regular Health Checkups

Rearing sheep is a business. Ultimately, every farmer wants to profit by selling wool and meat. However, this is unattainable if your sheep aren’t healthy.

Ensure you call a vet for routine checkups and vaccination to help you achieve your commercial goals.


If you take pride in American heritage, you will want to keep the Columbia sheep breed. Like its parent breeds, Lincoln and Rambouillet, the Columbia is docile and friendly. Lambs make great pets, while ewes are excellent mothers.

Columbia sheep produce high-quality wool and meat. A mature ram weights up to 300 lbs. and can produce a carcass large enough to feed a big family for several days. However, Columbia sheep demand more food to satiate their big bodies.


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