California Variegated Mutant Sheep, or simply C.V.M. Sheep,
are the result of many crossbreeding started in 1915.
In 1915 A.T. Spencer developed the Romeldale breed. He
purchased several New Zealand Romney Rams in 1915 that were brought to the
Pan-American exposition in San Francisco. He felt the Romney breed would
increase the staple, length, and carcass quality of his Rambouillets. Through
many years of selection, the Romeldale breed was developed, with fleece
properties of 60-64s, extremely high yield, and uniformity, including carcass
cutability superior to other white-face breeds.
During the 1960s, Glen Eidman, a partner of J.K. Sexton,
found in his purebred Romeldale flock a multi-colored ewe lamb. Two years later
a ram lamb of the same barred pattern was born and when crossed with the ewe,
the resulting offspring were of the same color pattern. Through subsequent
breeding and further mutants from the Romeldale flock, the C.V.M. Breed was
born. These sheep, christened C.V.M.'s or California Variegated Mutants, were
kept by Eidman who then placed emphasis on spinability of the fleece, twinning,
and lambing ease. During the 15 years Mr. Eidman spent developing the breed,
not a single replacement ewe or ram was sold so that only the highest quality
of genetics were used to replace the nucleus.
In 1982, the flock was totally dispersed, numbering
approximately 75 and selling to over a dozen buyers from throughout the state
of California. Since then the C.V.M.'s have been kept pure in some flocks,
while in others they have been crossed with Rambouillets, Lincolns, Polypay,
Suffolks, and the list goes on!
C.V.M. faces are generally free of wool and covered with
soft hair, although sometimes wool are found on the forehead. Their body is
sturdy and well-boned with a long straight back. Rams should appear strongly
masculine with ewes conversely feminine and refined. Eyes should be large,
clear and alert with ears medium in size. Neck and shoulders should be largely
free of skin folds. Legs should be strong, medium in length with pasterns
strong and upright. Hooves should be black in color. Sheep should move well
with a free and easy walk.
Mature rams weigh from 175 - 200 pounds and are aggressive
and virile breeders, able to cover more than the average number of ewes. Ewes
weigh from 120 - 150 pounds, are protective, dedicated mothers, prolific and
long-lived. Twinning and lambing ease are part of the breed emphasis and if
left with the ram, ewes are known to breed while suckling lambs.
C.V.M. color patterns vary widely, especially in the
darkness of body wool. Unlike many sheep, the C.V.M. will not fade with age,
but rather darkens from birth to their first year. With the wide variety of
color patterns, including dark gray, black, brown, moorit, and spotted, not
excluding the barred face badger pattern typical to the original C.V.M.'s, a
breed description has been difficult.
Their fleece should be bright, uniform and dense, of high
yielding, long staple, and fine wool. Sheep will average about 8 pounds of wool
yearly with spinning counts from 60's to 62's quality. 12 month staple length
averages 4 - 6 inches. Wool should have a well-defined crimp from base to tip,
be pliable to the touch and free from kemp or objectionable fibers.