GUIDELINES FOR EVALUATION
OF AMERICAN & DELAINE MERINO SHEEP
WOOL – 50 POINTS
Fineness – 12:
The wool fibers should have a spinning count of not less than 64, with uniformity over the body.
The crimp or U-shaped waves should be well
defined, close together, and uniform along the
entire fiber length.
Staple - 10:
The length of staple for twelve months growth should
not be less than three inches, unstretched. (Birth
date or shearing date is necesary if
comparing/judging different individuals for staple
Uniformity - 10:
Consistency of density, crimp, and fineness should be
present throughout the fleece; variation from area
to area isn't desirable.
Density - 10:
The density of the fleece should be measured by the
number of fibers per square inch of body surface.
Oils - 5: The
oil in the fleece should not be excessive, and should
be clear and free flowing.
Color - 3: The
wool coat (fleece) should be white and should cover
all wool bearing surface of the body. Any
evidence of black on the wool bearing surface
|CONFORMATION – 50
Body Confirmation - 15: The
shoulders should be well proportioned and blend
smoothly into the ribs and brisket. The ribs
should be well sprung. The back should be
strong and straight, and the loin and legs should be
Size - 12: Mature rams should weigh
175-235 pounds. The ewes should weigh 135-180
Type 8: The Delaine or C type
Merino should be smooth bodied, but folds under the
neck are acceptable.
Feet and Legs - 8: Should stand
squarely on their feet and legs. The hind legs
should be correctly set and front legs straight with
short, strong pasterns. The feet of medium size
and free of black streaks.
Breed Character (Head/Color Markings) - 7:
Color markings should be white. The head should
be of medium length without excessive wool
covering. The eyes should be bright and alert.
Objectionable - Horns tight against
the head; excessive wool covering the face; belly
wool coming up high on the side; horns and scurs on
ewes; brown on the face/nose/ears; black streaks on
the hoof; turned in eyelids.
Disqualification - Any evidence of
black on wool bearing surface; improper jaw
development such as overshot or undershot; abnormal
testicles/sex organs; evidence of existing
or surgically altered faults that might affect
reproduction or normal function.
The fine-wooled Merino was derived from man's first efforts
to improve the fiber of his flock. While several cultures
have influenced today's Merino, it was the Spanish who first
exploited the potential of the fine wool industry. From the
fourteenth through the early nineteenth centuries, the
Spanish closely controlled this valuable, "golden" resource.
After a great success in early America, large scale
production of Merino fiber emigrated to Australia, South
Africa and Russia. Today, again, the American and
Delaine-Merino Record Association is experiencing a robust
growth in flock number.
Over 95 percent of the Merinos are smooth or nearly smooth,
although a few breeders specialize in producing "A" and "B"
type Merinos. These are commonly referred to as "heavy
The "A" type Merino was developed in Vermont through
selection and inbreeding. A heavy fleece producing sheep was
developed. The Merino carries a very heavy, wrinkly hide.
The wrinkle should be small since extra large wrinkles may
produce an excess of low grade wool.
The fleece should be very dense, even and fine, measuring no
more than 22 microns in fiber diameter. The length
should be 2 inches at the shortest for one years growth. The
oil or yolk in the fleece should be abundant and
free-flowing. The color may very from white to straw
although, straw is preferred as it is found more often in
the best specimens. Rams should shear 25 pounds or more of
wool and ewes from 12 to 20 pounds.
In form the "A" type is often angular and has little carcass
value. It is a small sheep with ewes weighing 85 to 100
pounds. These sheep need to be in the hands of the skilled
breeder. They are not advocated for commercial lamb and wool
The "B" type Merino was developed principally in Ohio. It
results from breeders selecting for a heavy fleece on a
sheep that has a fair mutton form. The body is fairly free
from wrinkles, but it carries heavy neck folds, a rosette or
button tail and frequently wrinkles or heavy folds are found
behind the shoulders and on the thighs and rear flanks.
The "B" type is larger and better adapted to ordinary farm
conditions than the "A" type. Ewes should weigh from 100 to
120 pounds and produce a fleece or 14 to 18 pounds. The rams
range in weight from 160 to 180 pounds at maturity and
produce fleece of upwards of 25 pounds.
The "C" type or Delaine has become the most practical Merino
on the average farm and is especially adapted to range sheep
production in the Western and Southwestern states. They are
found in Texas, New Mexico and California. Ohio, Iowa,
Michigan, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, New York and other
states have many flocks, both of purebred and grade Merinos.
They are found from coast to coast, from North to South
border, and from sea-level desert to mountains of 10,000
Delaine Merino is of medium size. Mature ewes with full
fleece average from 125 to 180 pounds. Rams are larger
ranging in weight from 175 to 235 pounds. Greater size can
be achieved, but is not sought after because it often leads
to the production of rangy, long-legged individuals with
harsh, coarse, short-fibered wool. Breeders are more
concerned with producing maximum weight of long, dense,
fine-fibered fleeces on the backs of smooth sheep of medium
size compared to extreme size.
The Delaine has a smooth body and is free of wrinkles. The
neck is short but sometimes has a dewlap of one or two
folds. Such folds in the best specimens are more like an
apron and do not extend over the top of the neck. The body
may be covered with small welts or corrugations which give
density or compactness to the fleece. As the animal grows
older they often will disappear. Breeders selecting for
extremely smooth body Merinos discriminate against animals
carrying "too much skin."
The productive life of the Merino is much greater than any
other breed. Breeders have choice ewes 10 to 12 years of age
that are maintaining their high productiveness.
The long, unbroken line of breeding extending back for more
hundred years of sheep bred for one specific
purpose, the production of the best wool in the world, and
early development under nature's law of "Survival of the
Fittest" make the Merino one of the most prepotent breeds of
sheep in the world. The other valuable quantities mentioned
are a firmly fixed and transmitted uniformly to their
offspring. The fact that a large percentage of the sheep in
the world carry Merino blood means that they are the best
all around breed the world has ever known. Fads, fancies, or
propaganda never could have accomplished this result. Their
almost universal acceptance is well merited.
other wool can compare with the wool of the Merino in its
color, uniformity, strength, density, and fineness. Fleece
should be from 2.5 inches to 4 inches long in one year's
growth. It should be fine enough to grade from 64's in
spinning count to as high as 80’s, or measure from 17 to no
more than 22 microns.