Romeldale sheep are a critically endangered fine-wool breed developed in California in the early 1900s when a rancher named A.T. Spencer bought the entire contingent of New Zealand Romney rams at the 1915 San Francisco World's Fair to breed with his Rambouillet ewes. The breeding program focused on producing soft, fine wool and good fleece weight and medium-to-large market lambs for meat.
Romeldales were originally white, but in the 1960s, coloured lambs began to appear. A badger-faced variation sparked the interest of breeder Glen Eidman, who line-bred these "mutants" for several generations, further selecting for outstanding fleece quality. These sheep became known as "California Variegated Mutants", or CVMs.
The classic colour pattern of the badger-faced CVM creates a range of shades of colour within a single fleece. CVM/Romeldale fleece is close to Merino in fineness, with a Bradford count of 64s-60s. Staple length is 3-5 inches, with a well-defined crimp. Careful breeding since the first appearance of coloured Romeldales has increased the colour palette of the breed to include white, grey, black and moorit. Unlike most sheep, CVM/Romeldale lambs get darker from birth to their first year, and the fleeces get softer over the life of the sheep.
Although CVM/Romeldales are best known for their sought-after fibre, they make excellent all-round sheep for the small farm. They are medium-sized sheep with good carcass conformation. The ewes are wonderful mothers, and twinning and ease of lambing have always been important breed characteristics.
Black Mountain Farm CVM/Romeldales are registered with ARCA, the American Romeldale CVM Association.