About California Variegated Mutant Sheep
California Variegated Mutant
Sheep, or simply C.V.M. Sheep, are the result of many crossbreeding started in
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 60-64's, extremely high yield, and
uniformity, including carcass cutability superior to other white-face breeds.
During the 1960's, 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