Corriedale  sheep breed

Corriedale Sheep Breed: Information, Behavior, and Care

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The Corriedale sheep breed is a dual-purpose breed created in Australia and New Zealand before being introduced in the U.S. in 1914. It’s the offspring of a Lincoln-Merino cross and the oldest crossbred wool breed in the world.

Quick Facts about the Corriedale Sheep Breed

Country of origin New Zealand
Breed name Corriedale
Breed purpose Meat, wool
Mature body weight
  • Ram – 175 to 270 lbs.
  • Ewe – 130 to 180 lbs.
Average fiber diameter 28.5 microns
Grease fleece weight 10 to 17 lbs.
Fleece staple length 3.5 to 6 inches
Care level Low
Temperature All climates
Temperament Docile and easy to maintain

Corriedale  sheep breed

History of the Corriedale Sheep Breed

The Corriedale sheep breed was developed at the Corriedale Estate in South Island, New Zealand, towards the end of the 19th century.

The estate’s manager, James Little, was an experienced Scottish sheep breeder who crossed the native Romney sheep with Merinos after the former failed to adapt to the sparse and low-quality forage on the farm.

Later, Little purchased Lincoln rams and crossed them with Merino ewes, aiming to replicate his past success with Merinos. The result was a dual-purpose breed suited to local climatic conditions. Little named the breed after the Corriedale Estate.

However, local sheep breeders had concerns over whether the new Corriedale breed could outperform the tested and proven Merino.

Little had difficulty convincing them, but the repeated production of high-quality meat and wool turned the breeders’ heads. Local publications called the Corriedale breed ‘New Zealand’s Sheep.’

In 1914, the USDA introduced Corriedale sheep to the USA. It didn’t take time for farmers to like the breed. At the same time, the First World War increased the demand for meat.

While this meant a decline for heritage breeds due to their low output, high-yielding breeds like the Corriedale thrived, gaining popularity in the states and worldwide. Currently, there are over five million Corriedale sheep in the world.

READ ALSO: 7 Brown Sheep Breeds Perfect for Your Flock

Characteristics of the Corriedale Sheep Breed

Corriedale sheep are a polled breed. They have fairly large heads with broad faces. Most of the head is covered by wool, except for the face. It’s normal to notice black or blue spots on thick and soft ears. The muzzle is black.

Generally, the Corriedale sheep have a thick wool cover and a proportionate body. Both sexes have a hardy constitution, but rams have an understandably large and more imposing physique.

A pure Corriedale sheep has a fleece with even density, length, and quality throughout its body, a property unique to this breed.

The wool’s spinning count ranges from 50 to 58. Its average diameter is 28.5 microns, with rams having broader fibers and ewes leaning towards the finer end. Remember, age, feeding, health, and sex all significantly influence the quality of wool.

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

Typical Behavior of the Corriedale Sheep

Corriedale sheep are docile and easy to maintain. They won’t give you a hard time, whether you’re grazing on an open field or confining them to a small space.

Unlike other breeds, they remain fairly active in unfavorable conditions, such as scorching summers.

Corriedale ewes are excellent mothers that almost guarantee a 100% lamb survival rate. This applies to purebred and mixed flocks, as the females are overly protective of their young ones until they gain enough strength to survive.

A flock of corriadle sheep in the countryside

Corriedale Sheep Advantages

Corriedale sheep are a hardy breed that can withstand various climatic conditions. They do well in hot and cold conditions, enabling them to survive worldwide. They’re also food efficient – they continue gaining weight even when food supply is scarce.

Additionally, Corriedale sheep are famous for producing high-quality meat for premium clients in local and international markets.

A testament to this is the quick sale of Corriedale lamb in supermarkets and eateries and impressive performances in multiple carcass competitions, including the prestigious Green Triangle Beef Expo in Hamilton, New Zealand.

Also, farmers find the inherent fertility and maternal instincts of the Corriedale sheep desirable.

The breed is among the best and has the highest lambing and weaning rates. Keeping Corriedale sheep guarantees you a 100% transition from the lamb phase into adulthood. 

Corriedale Sheep Disadvantages

On the downside, Corriedale sheep have smaller carcasses than other commercial meat breeds. It would help if you reared many animals to get substantial money off meat sales.

Is Corriedale a Fine Wool Breed?

Corriedale sheep produce fine wool. Additionally, their pelt value is high.  Their fleece is dense and comprises high-yielding, soft-textured wool that falls between medium and long categories.

Corriedale wool is 27 microns making it ideal for many uses. It can used for felting and spinning when blended with Merino wool because the tops are usually even with a long staple. Additionally, it is fleecy when touched.

What Is Corriedale Wool Good For?

Wool from Corriedale sheep is ideal for scarves, outdoor warm sweaters and baby wear. Corriedale wool is both soft and sturdy. What this means is that it can be soft for making baby wear and strong enough for making hunting socks or even dog walking mittens.

It has almost perfect stitch definition and can be used for knitting, weaving, crocheting and felting.

Taking Care of Corriedale Sheep Breed

Here’s how to take care of your Corriedale sheep.

Selective Breeding

Most Corriedale sheep lead a healthy life. However, some are susceptible to genetic defects like black liver disease, cerebellum atrophy, foot root, goiter, rickets, and thyroid hormone insufficiency.

Luckily, only a low percentage of the population experiences these congenital defects. If any sheep in your flock have the disorders, you can eradicate them through selective breeding.

Observe Animal Health

Keeping your animals healthy ensures you make profits through meat and wool sales.

It starts by providing adequate food and water to your sheep. Then, build a shelter and keep it clean to prevent the proliferation of pathogens.

Besides selective breeding, you reduce the risk of foot rot by trimming hooves. Overgrown hooves tend to harbor urine and other waste, providing great conditions for bacteria that cause foot rot and difficulty walking.

Lastly, vaccinate your sheep regularly and call a vet whenever the animals behave differently. These ensure that your animals remain healthy and get treated before worsening conditions.


The Corriedale  sheep breed is hardy and food efficient. It’s ideal for all climate types and gains weight despite consuming less food. Regarding production, it yields one of the finest wools, and its meat is also soft and tasty.

However, its small size means it produces less meat than other commercial breeds. Lastly, some animals are susceptible to developing genetic defects like rickets, goiter, hormone insufficiency, etc.


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