About Columbia Sheep

Columbia sheep were developed by the United States Department of Agriculture as a true breeding type to replace cross breeding on the range.

In 1912, rams of the long wool breeds were crossed with high quality 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. The Bureau of Animal Industry maintained this line and by intensive breeding and selection produced a true breeding strain with characteristics of the superior crossbred line. 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. The result was larger ewes that had superior mothering instincts that produced more pounds of wool and larger lambs that meant more profit for those that raised Columbias.

The outstanding record made by Columbia’s on the western ranges has created an interest among sheep people of other areas. While they were originally developed for range conditions, they have proved admirably adaptable to the lush grasses and farm flock management of the middle west, east, north and south.

The mature Columbia rams weigh between 250 and 350 pounds and the females weigh 150 to 250 pounds. 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). The wool is classified as medium wool with a numeric count of 50’s-60’s. The wool varies from 31.0 to 24.0 microns.

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history books

1912-1977 BY RICHARD L GERBER

HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT of the COLUMBIA SHEEP

A HISTORY OF THE BREED’S PROGRESS

1912-1991 BY RICHARD L GERBER

HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT of the COLUMBIA SHEEP

A HISTORY OF THE BREED’S PROGRESS

BREED STANDARDS

Standard of Excellence for Columbia Sheep

Size – Superior, large, well-balanced rams showing correct Columbia type which fully represent the breed at its finest. (Only ram lambs weighing a minimum of 120 pounds are subject for inspection.) Registered ewes shall be above average in quality and size. (Only ewe lambs weighing a minimum of 90 pounds are subject for inspection.)

Fleece – Columbia ewes should shear an annual fleece of at least 12 pounds. The fleece should grade 1/2, 3/8 or 1/4 blood of staple length for grade but not show a greater variation than two grades and not show medulated or colored fibers.

Head – Hornless and free from wool blindness, moderately long ears covered with an even covering of white hair or very short wool. Hair on face and ears should be white; occasional small black spots are permitted on ears. Small spots of colored pigment are permitted on nose.

Neck – Medium, neatly attached and full, and preferably free from wrinkles and folds.

Shoulders – Wide, meaty, tightly laid on top and even with backline.

Chest – Wide and Deep with forelegs set well apart.

Back – Long, level, wide and strongly muscled.

Rump – Long and wide with dock carried well up.

Ribs – Well sprung, wide and deep.

Thighs – Thickly muscled and well filled in the twist.

Legs – Set squarely under sheep, heavily boned and covered with white hair below the wool line.

Pasterns – Moderately short and strong.

Hoofs – May be either white or black.

Disqualifications - Should Not be Registered

Horns – Horns, scurs or knobs on ewes and rams (slight scurs—small horny growth attached to skull—are permitted in outstanding rams that show promise for breed improvement in production and type). Inspectors are instructed to be critical on the registry of ram lambs with significant soft, horny growth in the socket.

Wool Blindness – Open white faced with poll covering not to exceed 2 inches below eyes or impair vision, even in full fleece.

Short Staple-Uneven Fleece – Less than three and one-half inch staple length or proportionals per grade for 12 months growth or proportionate length for periods of varying duration. More than two grades of wool on same sheep or medulated fibers.

Eyelids – Sheep with inverted eyelids shall not be registered.

Light Fleece – Loose, light fleece, lacking in density.

Fine Wool – Finer than 1/2 blood.

Coarse Wool – Coarser than 1/4 blood, except on lower thigh which may be low 1/4 if body fleece is 1/4 blood.

Faulty Mouth – Any tendency toward either overshot or undershot jaws.

Discolorations – Any colored wool. Colored hair on legs. Thin covering of hair on face and ears leading to excessive sunburn.

  • Pigment- accept small spots of colored pigment on the ears and eyelids. Pigment on end of nose may be either pink or black.
  • Hair – accept occasional black spots or black hair on the ear or around the eye. Also accept brown tinge on the eyelids or fringe or lacing of ear. Inspectors are instructed to hold color exceptions to a minimum.

Folds – Excessive wrinkles or folds on neck shall disqualify. A slight fold on brisket shall not be discriminated against on quality animals.

Lack of Quality – Poor constitution, low productive capacity, malformed weak pasterns, crooked feet, or crooked legs.

Body

General Appearance – A large sheep, symmetrical in outline, head erect, legs squarely placed. Rams distinctly masculine. Ewes strong but feminine………………………………………………………………………….10

Head – Free of horns, open white face with poll covering not to exceed two inches below eyes or impair vision, even in full fleece, moderately long ears covered with an even covering of white hair or very short wool, eyes clear and bright, mouth neither over nor undershot…………………………6

Neck – Medium, with smoothness from head to shoulders. No wrinkles…2

Back – Strong level, long with thick fleshing, wither smooth, well covered with natural fleshing…………………………………………………10

Ribs – Well sprung, deep underline, covered with natural fleshing………6

Chest – Broad and deep, providing ample width between forelegs, full in front without skin folds………………………………………………………….4

Rump – Level on top to dock. Wide at dock. Deep in twist………………4

Legs – Medium long in proportion to size, heavy bone, straight feet, strong pastern……………………………………………………………………6

Leg – Full to shank, thick and plump, with deep full twist………………..6

Scrotum, Udder – Two well-developed testicles in rams. Two teats with udder well developed and well balanced in ewes ……………………………6

Fleece

  Fleece – Dense, long staple, with uniform fiber quality from shoulder to thigh and carrying with uniformity to underline with heavy yield of clean wool ……………………………………………………………………………..25

  Length – Three to five inch staple in 12 months growth, uniform length and square tip……………………………………………………………………5

  Uniformity of Grade – Three grades permitted: 1/2, 3/8,1/4 blood. Not more than two grades in one fleece. Free of hair and kemp. Soft, elastic, white, clean………………………………………………………………………5

  Condition – Fibers well grown, free from breaks and strong throughout length. Yolk white or cream, not in excess, not dry or discolored. Fleece free from matting or cotting, free of burs, leaves, and trash……………..5 

Printable Version of the Columbia Breed Standard

SPEAKING OF COLUMBIAS

Members automatically get a subscription which comes out 3 times a year

COLUMBIA BOOSTER CLUB

Columbia Booster Club was organized to help the Columbia Sheep Breeders Association in the promotion and support of Columbia sheep. Your donation will allow the CSBA to develop marketing and promotional materials, advertising campaigns and solidify the foundation of the organization. Your contribution will assist the Association in the coordination of events and allow CSBA to meet goals. Help Columbias continue to be THE BEST IN THE BARN!

As a member of the Columbia Booster Club, the Association will utilize your gift in a variety of ways. In return, you will receive several perks based on the level of your donation. The Booster club calendar year is January 1 to December 31. Please note, in order to be eligible for National Show banquet tickets your contribution must be made prior to the Wednesday of the National Show and Sale Banquet.

GOLD

• Two tickets to the National Show and Sale Banquet
 
• Subscription to Speaking of Columbias
 
• Name listed on CSBA website
and Speaking of Columbias

Members

• Charles & Louise Worm – Lakefield, MN

• Daniel D. Kuehne – Reading, MN

• Frey Columbias – Granville, ND

• Gary & Ruth Braet – Calamus, IA

• Geneva Hills Farm – Tower City, ND

• George Weger – Sebastopol, CA

• Pitt Family Columbias – Grantsville, UT

• Troxel Columbias – Plainfield, WI

SILVER

• One ticket to the National Show and Sale Banquet

• Subscription to Speaking of Columbias

• Name listed on CSBA website and Speaking of Columbias

Members

• Peterson Sheep Co – Lemmon, SD

• K & S Columbias – Harrison, NE

• Matt & Sandra Jarvis – Spanish Fork, UT

BRONZE

• Subscription to Speaking of Columbias

• Name listed on CSBA website and Speaking of Columbias

Members

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