About CVM/Romeldales

About this breed:
Excerpt taken from the National CVM Conservancy:
CVM/Romeldale sheep generally have a clean face, although sometimes wool is found on the forehead. The body is sturdy and well-boned, with a long, straight back. Neck and shoulders should be largely free of skin folds.

Mature rams will weigh from 225-275 pounds while mature ewes range from 140-175 pounds.

Romeldales come in white, which can exhibit spots on their faces, ears, or legs. Romeldales also are natural colored. Natural colored Romeldales further break down into two categories: those with at least 5 of any visible parts of the traditional badger markings listed below are deemed to be CVM’s; while all other animals, solid and patterned, fall into the random-patterned and solid natural colored category. Natural colored Romeldales can be solid, or can have spots, or striping. The colors in this breed range from white, taupe and gray, plus all the way to the deepest chocolate and black. The original CVM’s had a barred face badger pattern which can still be seen today.

Traditional CVM markings:

Badger markings on face: dark eyes
Badger markings on face: dark muzzle
Badger markings on face: striping down sides of face
Dark underbelly
Dark legs: either black or brown, or both (can have white markings in this area also)
Dark chest (from the chin all the way to the underbelly)
Dark area under tail

Reverse Badger: All above areas are light instead of the traditional black or brown, and the rest of the animal’s body is dark wool. This pattern can have random light/dark spots also on the animal.

****Using the above traditional CVM markings as an example: If the animal has 5 or more of the 7 traditional markings, it would be considered a CVM. Otherwise, it would fall into a random-patterned and solid natural colored category.

Unlike many colored sheep, CVM/Romeldales will not fade with age, but rather darken from birth to their first year. The other dominant trait in this breed is that the sheep’s wool softens as it gets older. These two traits alone set this breed apart from all others. Strong twinning, particularly easy lambing, superior wool and a desirable meat carcass were all a part of the original breed selection process. CVM ewes are known to breed while still suckling with lambs at their side if exposed to a ram. Ewes are protective, dedicated mothers, prolific and long lived. Rams are aggressive and virile breeders, able to cover more than the standard number of ewes.

The California Variegated Mutant, or CVM, is a mutation of the Romeldale sheep, a dual purpose breed developed by A. T. Spencer in the early 1900’s. Mr. Spencer crossed imported New Zealand Marsh Romney rams with his Rambouillet ewes to increase the staple and length of fleece and to improve the carcass quality.

During the 1960’s, Glen Eidman found a multi-colored ewe lamb in his purebred Romeldale flock. Two years later, a ram lamb with the same coloration pattern was born. When the ewe and ram were crossed, the resulting offspring also had the same unique color pattern. Through subsequent breeding and further mutations, the CVM breed was painstakingly developed by Glen Eidman over a 15-year period. During that time, Mr. Eidman did not sell any of the CVM sheep, in order to maintain complete control over the breed’s development. Upon retirement in 1982, only the top 2/3 of the flock was dispersed.

CVM/Romeldale sheep are the most critically rare breed of sheep in the US today according to the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy.

Purebred CVM/Romeldales

Fleece darker and softer with age
Bradford Count: 60-64
Wide variety of colors

Today there are fewer than 20 breeders in the country, and we welcome all whose passion is to participate in assisting the National CVM Conservancy’s effort to preserve the original genetics. Saving such a worthy piece of American history is an important endeavor, as fanciers today most certainly would NOT be able to duplicate Glen Eidman’s extraordinarily-selective breeding program used to develop the breed.

Today, Glen’s son Mark continues to be a pivotal and important spokesman for the preservation of his father’s incredible living legacy. Mark Eidman is the Technical Advisor for the first and original American Romeldale CVM Registry (ARCR).

Annually, each sheep grows an average of 6 to 12 pounds of wool with an average yield of 65%. Fleece should be bright, dense and uniform from front to britch. Staple length averages 3 to 6 inches with a Bradford count of 60 to 64. The wool is soft and can be worn “next to the skin” with a well defined crimp from base to tip with no kemp present. Truly, it is wool developed with the hand spinner and fiber artist in mind…..easy to spin…wonderful to work with….and an absolute delight. No wonder CVM/Romeldale is so sought after by the fiber community.