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Coopworth Breeding Stock
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Coopworth Breed Standard
American Coopworth Registry Breed Standard
The Coopworth was developed at Lincoln College in Canterbury, New Zealand , during the 1950s and 1960s by crossing Border Leicester rams and Romney ewes. Using measured performance standards for selection, the best of the resulting progeny were interbred over many years. The purpose was to create a highly prolific and easily managed sheep that would excel in the production of both meat and wool for commercial use. This having been accomplished, the Coopworth was officially recorded as a breed in New Zealand in 1968, and has become the second most popular breed there.
Coopworths continue to be selected for productivity and easy care characteristics. Difficult births are of low incidence and ewes have very strong mothering instincts, seldom leaving their lambs after birth.
Multiple births are most common and the Coopworth ewe will provide an abundance of milk. Their lambs grow well with the addition of grass, making this breed ideal for low-input, pasture-based systems. Rams are virile and settle the ewes quickly.
Coopworth sheep are a medium sized, dual purpose, longwool breed, with an alert but quiet disposition. The long face is usually clean with a small topknot or bare head and a slightly Roman nose. They stand a bit taller than the NZ Romney and exhibit heavier muscling than the Border Leicester. The body is long with a good loin and hindquarter, light forequarter and a wide pelvis. The fleece, with pointed locks, has a well-defined crimp with bright luster and spinning count of 44-48 (35-39 microns) and a staple length of 6-8 inches. Both white and natural colored Coopworths are accepted for registration.
It is important to note that it is not unusual to see differences in appearance between individual animals because selection based on measured performance, rather than phenotype, has traditionally been the basis for registration. For this reason, several wool styles are considered acceptable. These would be similar to Border Leicester and NZ Romney wool types.
APPEARANCE of the "IDEAL COOPWORTH"
- General- Coopworth sheep are sturdy animals with a strong bone structure and well-balanced, capacious bodies. In addition, the Coopworth has an alert but calm and confident disposition. Emphasis should be placed on selecting for these breed characteristics. Several wool styles are acceptable within the breed. However, only one style should be present on the body of a particular animal and it should be uniform throughout. Rams (175-275 lbs) should exhibit masculine characteristics and ewes (140-175 lbs) should exhibit feminine characteristics.
- Head and Neck- The long face is usually clean with a small topknot or bare head and a slightly Roman nose. Nostrils should be black or dark, mottled grey. Pink noses are less desirable. The neck should join smoothly with the shoulders. There should be no scurs or horns.
- Body- The forequarter should be light and the shoulders level with the back. The back should be straight with good length and a flat loin, blending smoothly from the base of the neck and ending in a minimal slope. The hindquarter should be broad to accommodate a wide pelvis.
- Legs- Front legs should be straight and wide-set. Rear legs should have a slight natural curve from a side view, and be straight and wide spread from a rear view. Pasterns should be strong and upright. An otherwise good sheep should not be disqualified if the hooves exhibit some light color, although black is most desirable.
- Udder or Scrotum- Ewes should have well-formed, soft, even udders with two good teats. Rams should have two large, even, well-developed testicles.
- General- Because selection has historically been based on measured performance, rather than phenotype, several wool styles are acceptable within the breed. However, only one style should be present on the body of a particular animal and it should be uniform throughout. The crimp should be well defined from the base of the lock to the tip. Both white and natural colored fleeces are acceptable.
- Character- The high yielding fleece should be uniformly crimped overall with a soft hand. Broad locks that are free of crossed fibers, kemp and hair, the fleece should exhibit good length.
- Color- The fleece should be free of stains. White Coopworth fleeces should be free of black or brown fiber. Natural colored fleeces may be variegated, exhibiting more than one shade in a fleece.
- Luster- The fleece should exhibit a bright, shiny, healthy appearance.
- Quantity- Annual fleece production should be eight pounds or more for ewes, and 12 pounds or more for rams. This should be attributed to the density and length of the fleece rather than excessive grease.
- Length- Annual fleece length should be 6-8 inches.
- Grade- Wool with a spinning count of 44-48s (35-39 microns) is within the breed standard.
- General Appearance 15%
- Head and Neck 5%
- Body 10%
- Legs 5%
- Udder & Scrotum 5%
- Wool 60%
The American Coopworth Registry for judging guidelines.