Cunnington Farms raises Black Corriedales. Their color ranges from iron gray to soot black, and their yarn and roving is among my most popular products. But Corriedales are big sheep. I was lucky enough to get my breeding stock from a farm dispersal, where the breeder spent many years developing docile attitudes and prize-winning fleece.
All my Corries have lovely temperaments and have superior fleece. But handling my largest adult Corrie ram is an exercise, no matter that he is sweet, and is the only ram on the place that has not tried to butt me into the feed bin during breeding season. If I were younger (and stronger) I would have many more Corries.
The Corriedale is best suited to low-rainfall areas and adapts to all types of grazing conditions from lowland plains to mountain foothills. The ewes are excellent mothers and multiple births are not uncommon. Corriedales are usually all white, but all colors have a dense, uniform fleece that has a pronounced even crimp.
Originating in New Zealand, the Corriedale breed came from crossing Merino ewes with Lincoln rams in the 1860s. James Little arrived in New Zealand in 1863 from Scotland with some Romney sheep for two large properties, Corriedale and Balruddery in the low-rainfall area of South Island. The sheep in the area at that time were Merino and Romney, but most of the grazing land fell between the sparser grazing needs of the Merino and the rich pastures preferred by the Romney. In an effort to breed a sheep specifically for this type of low-rainfall area, James Little began by crossing the Romney and Merino and proved that such a specialty breed could be evolved. With this knowledge he began crossing Lincoln and Merinos, producing the Corriedale which is not only an efficient breed for low-rainfall areas, but also is a dual-purpose sheep that produces dense high quality wool and excellent meat. The New Zealand Sheep Breeders Association first included the Corriedale in 1903 as 'Inbred Halfbreds' recognizing the name in 1911. The Corriedale Sheep Society was established in 1910 and published the first flock book in 1924.
Corriedales were first imported to the United States in 1914 when the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture appointed Professor Marshall and Frank King of Laramie, Wyoming of the National Wool Growers Association, to search for a new sheep that could produce both high quality wool and meat. They found the Corriedale in New Zealand and brought 65 ewes and 10 rams to the government experiment station in Wyoming. The American Corriedale Association was founded in 1916 by Frank King. The Corriedales continue to grow in popularity and are becoming one of the most numerous breeds worldwide.