The Corriedale was simultaneously evolved in both Australia and New Zealand about 1874 by selectively breeding from cross bred progeny of pure Merino and Lincoln sheep. The breed was developed to meet a demand for a dual purpose animal with good meat characteristics and commercial wool production.
Today with over 125 years of line breeding behind it, the Corriedale is sufficiently fixed that hybrid vigour results when it is crossed with any other recognised pure breed.
Breed Identification and Description
The modern Australian Corriedale is a large framed, plain bodied, polled sheep, capable of producing heavy carcases of lamb, hogget or mutton. Ideal for export and domestic markets, Corriedales produce heavy cutting bright fleeces, with good style, length and handle. Mean fibre diameter ranges from 25 to 30 microns in adult sheep to the low 20's in lambs and hoggets. Yields which vary according to environment are in the 75% range. Flocks are also in demand for hand spinning.
Because it is run in a wide range of conditions the breed's popularity ranks second only to the Merino in the world at the present time. In South America alone, Corriedales account for some 70% of the sheep population, and graze from the heat of the equator to Tierra del Fuego's cold, from a wet 1500mm rainfall to a low 275mm, and from sea level to 3500 metres in the rare air of the Altiplano.
Uses of the breed in Australia and Fecundity
Corriedales are farmed in Australia because they give so many options in marketing. Being a dual purpose breed they can meet demands of both meat and wool markets, namely prime lamb production, wether markets (hogget and mutton), wool production, crossbred mothers and stud ram sales. Ewes are sound prime lamb mothers and with present trends their use for a self replacing flock has increased. Lamb rearing percentage of up to 140% can be achieved where this is required. Corriedale lambs are leaner than those sired by terminal breeds because their wool producing ability limits obesity.
Lambing exceeds 100%. Wool cut is 7kg and more per year with a yield of 75%. The animals have a long life span.
Corriedales are docile, easy care animals, excellent mothers with high fertility. They adapt to a wide range of climatic conditions, sometimes at very high altitudes, and are known to be "good doers" in poor seasons and have a strong constitution. They are suitable to the vagaries of the changing sheep markets,
maintaining above average returns at all times.
Corriedales meet the market
Corriedale cross lambs are proving to be an ideal part of an innovative lamb marketing program, known as Island Prime, that is setting the pace in production and quality techniques in Australia.
Island Prime is a unique Tasmanian-branded product and demands lambs that meet tight specifications, based on eye muscle shape, carcase weight and fat score. Corriedale cross lambs have not only met these specifications, they have attracted price premiums for them.
Not only have Corriedale cross lambs met Island Prime's strict selection criteria, they are well suited to the "cutability" of the Island Prime product, as it is sold to gourmet butchers and supermarkets that demand a heavy muscle to satisfy the demand for new age cuts.
This demonstrates how Corriedales can meet today's market demands and it's not surprising they are a part of this highly successful lamb marketing program that targets customers seeking high quality, lean and tender lamb.
Fertility & Mothering Ability
Corriedale ewes are extremely sound mothers, capable of lamb survival rates of up to 140%. Time and time again, in purebred and crossbred flocks, they have proved their ability to raise a productive, healthy lamb.
This inherent fertility and strong maternal instinct has breeders all over the country very impressed, especially when it comes to lamb sale time. Corriedales are hardy animals and well suited to a variety of higher rainfall environments. They are ideal for lamb finishing on crop stubbles and their self-replacing ability and strong mothering characteristics are yielding some excellent lambing and weaning rates.
One breeder located near Bordertown in South Australia had lambing rates of 128% and 133% in his first two lambings after making the change from a wool breed of sheep to a Corriedale flock.
This, combined with prime lamb sales of an average of $58 for stock sold over-the-hooks to a supermarket, reinforced the breeder's decision to choose Corriedales over other breeds.
It just goes to show that no matter where you are, there is a Corriedale that will perform for you.
High Quality Carcase
Corriedales are well known for their ability to produce high quality meat, especially for the prime lamb trade in both the domestic and export markets.
This has been repeatedly demonstrated with many strong sales to over-the-hooks buyers, supermarkets and processors and positive results in various carcase competitions, including one of the Victoria's most prestigious prime lamb events, held at the Green Triangle Beef Expo at Hamilton.
At a recent Expo, Corriedale lambs took out six of the eight awards presented were carcases were judged on a cents a kilogram basis, according to tight specifications set by a local abattoir.
Not only did Corriedale lambs perform well in the class standings, more importantly, a high number met the grid specifications and achieved a price premiums of up to 22c/kg dressed weight on market values.
Of the Corriedale entries in the competition, 63 per cent hit the grid specifications, well above the 40 per cent reached by other lamb breeds.
These results clearly demonstrate how suitable Corriedale lambs are to over-the-hooks trading requirements and that the Corriedale is an ideal prime lamb sire or dam, able to meet the commercial needs of the red meat industry.
Balanced genetic improvement for better returns
Australian Corriedales have a pedigree and performance database comprising nearly 50,000 animals.
Australian Corriedale breeders use the most advanced sheep genetic improvement system in the world - LAMBPLAN.
Australian Corriedale breeders use LAMBPLAN to help achieve balanced genetic improvement across the entire range of traits affecting your sheep business: Growth Rate, Carcase Merit, Maternal Ability, Wool Cut and Wool Quality.
The International Scene
Now established in over 20 countries the export potential for good flock and stud stock is excellent in a market which can expand. To maintain the international interest, this unique breed of sheep holds a World Corriedale Conference every five years in rotated host countries.
BREED TYPE STANDARDS
CORRIEDALE BREEDER'S AIM
The Corriedale Breeder's aim is to produce a dual purpose sheep combining maximum clean fleece weight, body weight and fertility, having regard to the breed type standard.
The Corriedale should at once give the impression of being a well-woolled and evenly balanced sheep, with a remarkably hardy constitution, the ram being of a distinctive character and bold outlook. Being a dual-purpose sheep, consideration should be given to both wool and carcase.
The Corriedale carries a heavy, even, bright fleece of good quality with a long dense staple, pronounced crimp, soft handle and an even tip. For visual appraisal purposes, the object quality should be within the range of 50-58 spinning count and emphasis must be placed on quality.
The characteristic of a pure Corriedale sheep is a remarkable evenness in the length, density and quality of the fleece throughout. In males, the purse should be covered with wool.
As feeding, age, sex and health have a marked influence on the average fibre diameter of a fleece, a strict limit cannot be included in the Type Standard. However, as a guide, the mean fibre diameter of the fleece under average grazing conditions should be in the range of 25-32 microns. (Mature rams slightly broader, ewes slightly finer).
Head: Hornless, broad, strong and well-woolled, but free from wool blindness. Black or blue spots on the ears are no defect, but black or brown spots on hair or wool are defects. The jaw and bit should be broad, teeth well formed and meet the upper pad at the front. Nostrils preferably dark. Ears thick and soft.
Neck: Broad and strong, forming a good scrag and long enough to provide good balance
Brisket: Carried well forward and wide.
Back: Long, level and broad.
Ribs: Well sprung and deep.
Hindquarters: Deep, broad and well muscled.
Legs: Moderate length with heavy bone and squarely set under the sheep.
Coloured fibres are a serious defect. Hoofs well formed and preferably dark.