Why raise California Red Sheep?

There are so many reasons! First is the great people of the California Red Sheep Registry, a grassroots organization that is deeply passionate about this heritage breed and has worked hard over many years to keep these exceptional sheep from fading into obscurity.

new born triplets
It all started when the Souliers, two hardworking people working on various ranches in California, saw some sheep that had been bred by a Dr. Spurlock from UC Davis in 1975. These sheep had been an experiment to breed a wool free sheep good for meat production that was a good grazer and could deal with the heat of California summers. The wool-free part didn't work out so well. So the Souliers took the sheep and bred what is the California Red, a cross between a Barbados and a Tunis sheep. This has been perfected over the years by master breeders to have consistent red hair, creamy wool and a graceful, deer-like form. They are hornless, and can live on pasture year-round, needing very little supplemental feed. We were intrigued because we wanted to use sheep to eat the weeds in between the olive rows. While this didn't pan out- this sheep breed are too much of a browser species- they eat far up into the tree canopy, yanking down whole branches in minutes and even eat the olives, we have hopes that we'll still be able to graze them in our almonds once our trees' lower branches get over their head height.


We purchased 8 two year old ewes from the Altomare Sheep Company and then 10 more ewes with lambs in 2009. We are now up to 51 breeding ewes, 5 rams and about 40 meat lambs, depending on where we are in the year. We pasture them on 10 acres of irrigated pasture while they are finished up to market weight. We made the decision not to certify our flock organic, as the regulations make it more costly to butcher and package for sale. Our sheep are managed as if they were organic with the only exception being a once-a-year application of a de-wormer, Safeguard, for the ewes and breeding stock only. With proper rotation and good herd hygiene, we have had little parasite issues.
We have not lost a single animal to worms in the 4 years we have been breeding this flock. Our ewes most often twin, and are

California Red Sheep have unique personalities and as a heritage breed, we are proud to keep the genetics going. As far as eating goes, we have found the lamb to be extremely mild tasting, with a lamby flavor only in certain cuts such as ground lamb. The rack and tenderloin are so mild, you could be eating an exceptionally juicy, fatty steak.

Our wool spun into yarn is available at farmer's market stands. It is often sold out before the next shearing is processed. The roving and yarn are processed at the Yolo Wool Mill and we will soon be trying out the Oakhurst Fiber Mill. Both are cooperatives that strive to preserve local, artisanal wool production and hand crafts. Full lamb skins available on request, please let us know you'd like one and we will get it processed for you. At this time, we do not sell full fleeces for hand spinning, as we do not blanket our sheep. We prefer to process out the vegetable matter by machine as part of the processing.