The Columbia is one of the first breeds of sheep developed in the United States. The product of USDA and university research, it was intended to be an improved breed adapted for the Western ranges of the country (where the majority of sheep raising takes place).
Beginning in 1912 in Laramie, Wyoming, Lincoln rams were crossed with Rambouillet ewes. In 1918, the foundation flock was moved to the U.S. Sheep Experiment Station near Dubois, Idaho, for further refinement. Today’s Columbia is a popular breed, with heavy, white fleeces and good growth characteristics. It is one of the larger breeds, and is often used for cross breeding in commercial western flocks.
The Columbia sheep breed is the first of several breeds of sheep to have been developed in the United States, making it truly All-American. Columbia sheep originated as a result of crossing the Rambouillet and Lincoln in an effort to produce a breed which offered greater quantities of both meat and wool.
The goal was to develop a single breed of sheep which made range crossbreeding obsolete and many would argue this goal was achieved successfully in the Columbia. Columbia sheep have wool all over their bodies except for their bare, white faces and while some confuse the breed with the smaller Corriedale, the two are distinguishable by the fact that Columbias have pink noses and white hooves whereas Corriedale sheep have a black nose and hooves.
- Breed Name: Columbia
- Other Name: None
- Breed Purpose: Mainly wool, but also good for meat production
- Special Notes: Very hardy and strong animals
- Horns: No
- Climate Tolerance: Local climates
- Color: White
- Rarity: Common
- Country/Place of Origin: United States
Columbia sheep were developed by the United States Department of Agriculture in 1912 as a true breeding type from long wool rams and Rambouillet ewes to produce large ewes yielding more pounds of wool and more pounds of lamb.
The first cross Lincoln-Rambouillet line was the most promising of all crosses and this became the source line of Columbia. The original cross was made at Laramie, Wyoming, and the Foundation of the Government Columbia flock was moved to the Sheep Experiment Station at Dubois, Idaho, in 1918. While they were originally developed for range conditions, they have adapted to other regions as well
Columbia Sheep is a big animal with white faces. They are mainly colored white, and they have wool on their body, apart from their most. They have many similarities with the corridor sheep. But the Colombia sheep is much larger than the Corridel Sheep. Their feet are black and have black cannon.
Today the Columbia sheep is raised for both meat and wool production. They produce good quality wool with a staple length of 3.5 to 5 inches, and a fiber diameter of 31 to 24 microns. The wool is classified as medium with a spin count of 50s to 60s. The breed is also good for meat production. The lambs grow relatively faster and are resilient and hardy.
The mature Columbia rams weigh between 225 and 300 pounds (100-135 kg) and the females weigh 150 to 225 pounds (68 – 102 kg). The average fleece weight of the ewes ranges from 10 to 16 pounds (4.5 – 7.3 kg) with a yield of 45 to 55%. The staple length of the wool ranges from 3.5 to 5 inches (9-13 cm).
Columbia sheep images