Cormo is a system of breeding in which selection is based on scientific measurement of commercially desirable characteristics. Selection criteria include clean fleece weight, fiber diameter, growth or body weight, and fertility. Originating in Tasmania, Australia, the Cormo derives its name from its two parent breeds: Corriedale and Superfine Saxon Merino.

Cormo sheep were first introduced into the United States in 1976. They are not being promoted as a show sheep, but rather as one of economic value. Cormos sheep produce a long stapled, high yielding fine-wool fleece with a high degree of fiber uniformity. They cross well with American breeds.

Bred category: fine wool

Distribution: Australia, New Zealand, North America

The Cormo Breed is a one-time crossing of Tasmanian stud Corriedale rams on 1200 selected superfine Saxon Merino ewes.  This was the beginning of the development of the Cormo breed.  The result — 1/4 Lincoln, 1/4 Australian Merino, and 1/2 Superfine Saxon Merino – is fast becoming one of the best wool producing breeds in the sheep industry today.

The breeding selection criteria was so strict that no match was left to chance. Mr. Downie loaded a computer with all the statistics of each animal – not an easy job in 1961 – and let the computer match the best ewes with the highest quality rams creating a genetically superior breed.  This careful match breeding was taken in the creation of the Cormo breed. The result is the high quality Cormo breed that we see today and is available in the US through the American Cormo Sheep Association.

Cormo selling points do not end with their wool quality.  Cormo are considered to be “easy keepers”.  They are somewhat smaller than many breeds and, therefore, require 40% less feed than the larger breeds.  They are also rugged animals.  They thrive in the harsh climate of eastern Montana, the humidity of the East Coast, and the wetness of the northwest.  Lambing is easy and multiple births are not uncommon.  In assisted lambing situation, lamb crobs can be as high as 150% to 180%.  Mothering instincts, lack of wool blindness and a high muscle to bone ratio is also notable in the breed.


Original Selection Criteria

  • High clean fleece weight
  • Must have a fiber diameter 17 to 23 micron range
  • Fast body growth rate
  • Must have a high rate of fertility
  • High Quality Wool. Easy Keepers, Mothering Instincts. High muscle to bone ratio.


American Cormo Sheep Association Breed Standards

These breed characteristics were developed for the American Cormo. These standards are to be considered as goals for the future of the breed and are to be used as a guideline.

  • High Yield
  • Uniformity throughout the fleece
  • Staple length 3-5 inches
  • Dence white wool
  • Good elasticity or memory
  • Free of hair, kemp or colored fiber
  • Micron count 17 to 23
  • Rams and ewes have open faces, free of wool
  • Wool is carried over the poll, around the ears and down the cheeks
  • Ears are small
  • Unacceptable traits:
    • wooly face
    • roman nose
    • undershot or overshot jaw
    • large or pendulour ears
  • A clean top line is desirable, with a slight to no dip behind the shoulders, and the straight line should carry to the hip
  • Well-sprung ribs and good body capacity are desirable.
  • Rams should exhibit a masculine appearance, and have well-developed and uniform testicles
  • Undesirable Ram traits:
    • undecended testicles or a single testicle and split scrotums
  • Ewes should be feminine in appearance with a good width in the pelvis and well formed udders
  • Undesirable Ewe traits:
    • more then two functional teats
    • residual teats should be non-existent
  • Front legs should be straight and set squarely under the shoulders
  • Hind legs should show a straight line from the pin bone down through the hock to the pastern
  • Viewed from the side, the rear cannon bone should be at right angle to the ground and not fall behind the pin bone (sickle hock)
  • Pasterns should be clearly upright and hooves should be well shaped
  • Unacceptable:
    • knock-knees
    • splayed front or back feet
    • cow hocks, sickle hocks, weak pasterns
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