Romeldale sheep are white, but the classic color pattern of the CVM is the badger-face, a light body with a dark belly and dark head. This pattern creates a range of shades of color on a single fleece. Selection has increased the range of colors to include gray, black, brown, and moorit (cinnamon brown). Fleece colors darken during maturation rather than fading as the sheep ages.
Fleece weights range from ten to fifteen pounds with a yield around 65% and highly uniform. Staple lengths of 3 to 6 inches with a fiber diameter of 21-25 microns.
The Romeldale/C.V.M. fleece is ideal for soft yarn that will not be scratchy to the skin. The breed’s two most enduring qualities for fiber artists are the non-fading wool that gets softer with age. The wool of the Sexton flocks was so highly regarded that for many years the entire clip was sold to Pendleton Mills.
The Romeldale/CVM is a dual purpose breed of sheep, meaning it is a good wool producer as well as a good meat sheep. It has a superior carcass to other white-face breeds.
Twining and ease of lambing are part of the original breed emphasis. The Sextons selected for high rates of twinning, maternal ability, and non-seasonal reproduction. If left with the ram, ewes have been known to breed while still suckling lambs. The rams are active breeders, while the ewes are excellent mothers, prolific and long-lived.
With the exception of color, CVMs and Romeldales have similar characteristics. The sheep weigh 150–275 pounds, the face is generally free of wool and covered with soft hair, although sometimes wool is found on the forehead. The body is sturdy and well boned with a long straight back, and neck and shoulders largely free of skin folds. Sheep should move well with a free and easy walk.
Adult rams weigh from 175 - 275 pounds and are aggressive and virile breeders, able to cover more than the average number of ewes. Ewes weigh from 120 - 200 pounds, are protective, dedicated mothers, prolific and long-lived.
Romeldale and California Varigated Mutant (CVM) sheep may be considered two parts of a single breed. With the exception of color, CVMs and Romeldales have similar characteristics. The Romeldale is a breed of sheep developed by A.T. Spencer in the early 1900’s when he crossed Romney Rams from New Zealand with Rambouillet ewes. After many years of selection the Romeldale breed was developed.
The Romeldale breed is an American, white - fine wool, breed and the California Varigated Mutant (CVM), a multicolored variant, was derived from it in the 1960’s in California. Both are endangered and unique to North America. Much of the establishment of the Romeldale breed was accomplished by the J. K. Sexton family during the 1940s and 1950s. Then in the 1960s, colored lambs appeared. Glen Eidman, a partner of the Sextons, used these sheep to create the CVM variant we see today. Romeldale/CVM sheep are a great choice for small farms because they have wonderful wool, produce a good carcass, and thrive in even the most extreme weather. The breed is valuable in production systems as well as to hand-spinners and other fiber artists. This breed does not require a lot of heavy maintenance, and they were bred to be resistant to many of the problems that plague other breeds.