For the Love of Corriedale
Posted on April 16 2022
Over 30 years ago, Geof Ruppert chose Corriedale when he got serious about sheep farming. Today he raises merino as well as Corriedale on his 200-acre farm on the Pennsylvania/Maryland border. In our conversation with him, he talks about the joys and challenges of raising sheep— the need to get the best rams possible (sometimes you need to go to Australia), the delight of the first lambs of the season, the vigilance needed to protect sheep against disease, and the wool market and his slow pivot these days toward merino sheep.
Here are a few of our takeaways from the conversation:
- Corriedale origins: A cross between British, large-bodied Lincolns and soft-fleece merino in order to develop a hardy, dual-purpose breed. Generally thought to have been started on the Corriedale ranch in New Zealand around 1870, but the breed was probably developed in tandem with efforts in Australia.
First lambs of 2022, born end of January.
- How do you know a Corriedale sheep when you see one? Look for black nose and hooves, lots of wooly-wool on the body, with wool also on head and legs.
- Imported into the US in 1914, and now found throughout the world.
- Fleece is reasonably soft, if not as fine as merino, dependable, hard-wearing, attractive. A solid choice for knitters. Perhaps the Toyota Carolla of yarn.,
- Geof sees the commercial market focused on merino and fine wool, to the exclusion of good wools that aren’t super soft. As a farmer and businessman, he needs to pay attention to what the buyer wants. That said, he will always have Corriedale on his farm, they’re a most excellent sheep.
Look at all that wooly-ness. Corriedale have such wooly heads.