CALIFORNIA RED SHEEP REGISTRY, INCJ
About California Red Sheep
The history of the California Red Sheep began in the early 1970's when Dr. Glenn Spurlock in Davis, CA embarked on a
Home Project (not affiliated with UC Davis), of crossing Tunis and Barbados
Originally, Dr. Spurlock's goal was to create a larger framed, wool-less breed of sheep. His
efforts to obtain the wool-less feature failed, but the remarkable hybrid sheep caught the eyes of Aime &
Paulette Soulier of Winters, California.
extensive efforts and selective breeding, the Souliers slowly increased the size of their flock and interested
other sheep breeders including Alice Gardner of Dixon, CA. Over the years, their combined breeding efforts helped
expand the scope of the program so that today there are more than fifty breeders throughout the US. To date, over
2,200 Reds have been enrolled in the California Red Sheep Registry since its
The wool of this distinctive young breed is prized by hand spinners and weavers alike and the
meat is unequaled in tenderness and delicate flavor. Additionally, the newly created California Red breed
displayed a calm, gentle disposition, distinctive color, resistance to many of the health and handling
problems and also proved to be a successful year round breeder.
What are they like?
California Reds are graceful and eye catching in appearance. The rams in particular can be rather striking with manes of red hair (as in photo) in contrast to their beige or
oatmeal colored wool. The legs and head are free of wool and instead are covered with hair ranging from gold
to dark cinnamon in color. Both the ewes and rams have a bold, strong expression accented by finely chiseled
muzzles. Their long and slightly pendulous ears give them a deer-like appearance when alert and at
Considered medium-sized sheep, when mature the rams weigh 225-250 pounds on average; and the
ewes range from 130-150 pounds. Though alert and athletic, both rams and ewes are known for their gentle easy
going temperaments and responsiveness to quiet handling. Both sexes are naturally hornless.
The ewes are very patient but possessive mothers that instinctively care for the needs of
their young. Ewes bond well with their lambs and can be quite defensive of them when needed. While yearlings
can often give birth to single lambs, twins are not uncommon. As the ewes mature, and with successive
lambing, twins (and occasionally multiples) are usually born along with plenty of milk available to feed the
lambs. The belly and udder areas are pretty well free of wool so that even the most timid lambs are able to
Lambs are born a solid rust or cinnamon red color. As they mature, the hair color that is
retained on the legs and head can range from gold to dark cinnamon. The wool, as it grows out on the young
animal, turns to beige or oatmeal in sharp contrast to the richly colored wool-free head and limbs. This
transformation appears around 12-18 mos old or earlier depending on shearing.
The California Red is an easy keeping breed that, when fed a balanced pasture grass and/or hay
diet, does not require heavy graining to reach market weight. Depending on the region, weather conditions and
type of wool market, California Reds are usually shorn once a year, just prior to lambing. Though the breed
originated here in California, they have been successfully ranged in extremely harsh weather area ranches in
Canada, Colorado, Idaho and throughout the United States.
Why consider California Reds?
The desirable traits of this relatively new breed is many fold ...
•WOOL is beige or oatmeal colored with hairs, ranging from gold to dark cinnamon red, intermixed throughout. Due to the silky feel of the wool, along with the unique visual
texture of the contrasting hairs, it is no surprise that it is sought after by hand spinners and weavers. The
staple length is usually three to six inches and measures in the 50 to 60's by the Bradford count, 30's micron
•TROUBLE FREE BREEDING & LAMBING --The reproductive characteristics of California
Reds are also quite favorable. The rams are very active even in the hot summer months making year
round breeding an option for many sheep raisers. The quiet, gentle and dedicated mothering nature of the ewes
results in very few lambing or lamb-raising problems. Due to ample milk production, nursing lambs have very
good weight gain even though twins are normally produced.
•MEAT -- The meat from California Reds is unequaled in tenderness and taste. Along with a
delicate flavor, their meat also contains significantly less fat than that of the more common sheep breeds.
High quality meat production along with year round breeding is a winning combination for any sheep raiser,
large or small.
The milk from California Red sheep has been found to be high in milk solids and their calm demeanors make them
excellent candidates for inclusion in small/home dairy operations.
For More Information contact:
Contact CA Red Sheep Registry
Lyn Brown, Registrar
California Red Sheep Registry
PO Box 468
LaPlata, NM 87418