After much trial and error, our wonderful flock of Criolla sheep has settled at a core of about 25 ewes, 3 rams, and 3 whethers. The Criolla is a wonderful breed with fabulous, multi-colored wool and diverse staple characteristics.
Criolla is the name of the ‘local’ breed of sheep here in Uruguay. Sheep in Uruguay are predominantly a commercial enterprise, with the focus on white wool for the international wool market. Sheep with colored fleece – grey, tan, chocolate, piebald, or the culturally preferred dark brown – have been considered undesirable and the wool of lesser value. The current style of Criolla originated from an older style of sheep, a dual-coated, hardy, colored Criolla sheep common to South America; over decades a few local farmers kept their naturally colored sheep and bred them, developing what is now considered the local ‘Criolla’. Recent genetic influxes have been primarily Corriedale and Polwarth, leading to softer, finer, single-coated fleece. The wool can be highly variable between sheep, but typically has a blocky staple, well-defined crimp, soft hand, and medium to fine fiber diameter. Fleece are lightweight, as is common with smaller sheep, but still lacking the modern uniformity of staple length. Often of multi-colored staple, when spun many fleece have a naturally heathered look. The sheep themselves are of small stature, measuring between 60-70cm at the withers. Our Criolla flock is of very sweet and docile disposition, are excellent mothers, and have a very hardy constitution.