Tunis VS California Red

Britgoes2market

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I'm looking into the California Red sheep, and possibly Tunis. I was reading on another forum that some would never buy either of these breeds but never explained why. The thread ended with that one comment. Was curious, if you have experience with this breed of sheep, is there a reason for this particular response? Thanks!
 

farmerjan

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No experience with either... you need to read up on the breeds and maybe find a breeder and go look at them....to get an idea if they even look like they would be a good breed...
@Ridgetop or @SageHill are in the "west"... maybe a more regional breed since you say California Reds....
 

SageHill

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No experience with either... you need to read up on the breeds and maybe find a breeder and go look at them....to get an idea if they even look like they would be a good breed...
@Ridgetop or @SageHill are in the "west"... maybe a more regional breed since you say California Reds....
Wow. I’ve heard of California Red but never went any further. From what I see online I WOULD LOVE TO HAVE THIS BREED.
Developed in the 70s at UC Davis. It’s a cross of Blackbelly Barb and Tunis. Dual purpose, polled, silky wool, calm and good natured.
Tunis is an old breed according to Farmer Google and endangered. Silky wool, good sized, polled, calm.

@Britgoes2market - are you in CA?
 

Ridgetop

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I'm looking into the California Red sheep, and possibly Tunis. I was reading on another forum that some would never buy either of these breeds but never explained why. The thread ended with that one comment. Was curious, if you have experience with this breed of sheep, is there a reason for this particular response?

The original California Red was bred by Dr. Spurlock in the '70's hoping to create a wool-less or wool-shedding hair breed. He was probably hoping to compete with the Dorper breed that was starting to make its way into this country. He didn't manage to attain the hair sheep breed he was hoping for and gave away the original California Red animals that he had produced. The people who got those sheep liked them for their color and temperament and decided to continue breeding the few California Reds they had. While the breed gained some fans the California Red breed is not a popular breed. With so few individuals to breed, inbreeding was prevalent. The gene pool is extremely limited, and good breeding stock is harder to locate.

In 2012 the California Red Registry became concerned about the reduced quality of the breed and requested an assessment from the NAGP about the effects of inbreeding and lack of a larger gene pool in the California Red breed. The NAGP's assessment found that there would be a substantial decrease in breed performance due to inbreeding. The assessment recommended the California Red Registry reopen its herd registry for the purpose of registering new California Reds produced by Tunis x (Tunis x Blackbelly Barbados) to attain a larger gene pool. The NAGP stated that if sufficient California Red breeders took advantage of this program to produce new base stock, they could stem the loss of performance due to constant inbreeding and take advantage of hybrid vigor.

The loss of performance through inbreeding may be the reason why they don't appeal to some people. They sound wonderful on the breed websites but go to any breed website and that breed will appear to be the best breed in the world. LOL If the California Red is still suffering from heavy inbreeding, it will have lost wool quality, health, meat, ease of lambing, and production value - basically it's end purpose. If the person who said he would never have a California red had some of these highly inbred animals that may be the reason for his statement. The smaller the gene pool and the fewer the number of these animals, the harder it will be to obtain good quality animals. This is something you need to be aware of when looking for breeders.

If you decide to get this breed you need to remember that this is a wool breed requiring annual shearing. The California Red breeders claim the wool is lovely for hand spinners. There is a problem with that claim since California Red wool usually has hairs mixed in with the wool. Most spinners and wool processors don't want any hair fibers in their wool fleeces. Also, before you think you will be able to sell thee fleeces, no matter how nice the wool is you need to remember that there is little to no value to standard fleeces in the US. Fine wool is salable, but only after being converted into roving for hand spinners. Raw fleeces are very hard to sell. (My Dorset fleeces were hard to give away!) First, fleece "in the grease" is heavy so no one wants to pay for shipping it to them as a "raw" fleece. Specific fleeces from specific breeds with specific quality of wool can be sold to hand spinners, but unless you are a person who can convert the wool into roving (ready to spin bats) yourself, it will be expensive to have it done for you. You may have to clean and prepare your fleece for sale yourself. You have to "skirt" the fleece (pick off any vegetation and debris, dried poop etc., then wash the wool. Unless you have experience at this it is very easy to "felt" your wool during the washing process. (Ask me how I know! LOL) After washing the wool fleece, you will have to "card" it and make it into batts for spinning. Then you can spin it or sell it.

All good you say, but before you can do all that skirting, washing, carding, and roving you have to remove the wool from the sheep. Shearing is a lot of work and the equipment can be expensive. An electric shearing clipper runs anywhere from $100 for a cheap set to over $500 for a good set. The cheap sets can overheat and do not hold up. Then there are the blade sets. These run anywhere from $25 to $70 for a set. A set is 2 blades - the cutter and the comb. You can get by with the one set that comes with the shears if you only have one or two sheep to shear, and if you can sharpen the blades yourself. Otherwise, you will need several sets of blades so you can change them out when they get dull during your shearing adventure. They get dull quickly when shearing because a fleece is greasy and holds dirt which dulls the blades. Once you have finished the annual shearing you will have to take your blade sets to be sharpened. This will cost anywhere from $15 per pair to $30 per pair. And remember to buy plenty of Kool Lube to spray on the clipper blades to cool them down during shearing. And blade wash to get the lanolin off the clipper blades. Shearing is a skill that takes some time to learn since the shearing blades can take off a finger, teat, or in some cases a ram's jewels.

If you don't want to shear and need to hire someone, it can run from $10/hd to $50/hd depending on where you live, how far the shearer has to drive to your house and how many shearers are in your area. My sons and I can shear, I have the equipment, but I am older now and don't want to shear. It cost me $25/head and by the time I sold my Dorset sheep and bought Dorpers, the cost had gone to $50/head. Before you think that the fellow (who had been in 4-H with my children) was taking advantage remember that the cost to sharpen a set of blades had gone to $30 a pair, the cost of Kool Lube had gone t $15/can, etc. and he was driving 50 miles to my house one way.

While the California Red is a pretty breed with its red points, many people have turned from standard wool producing breeds to hair breeds and breeds that have wool in winter and shed out in summer. This is because they don't want to shear their flock of sheep anymore. There is a limited commercial wool market in the US now, the US wool subsidy ceased about 20 years ago. The wool market has been taken over by the Australian and New Zealand wool growers. Many commercial sheep growers have turned to meat only breeds since shearing cut into their overhead and added to the workload. I sold my Dorset sheep and bought White Dorpers which shed out.

Hopefully this will not have turned you off owning sheep and owning California Reds if that breed is your choice. We have owned sheep for 30 years and have enjoyed them. Having told you why some people will never have a wool breed, there are California Red breeders listed on the California Red Registry.

Good luck and have fun!
 

Britgoes2market

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Wow. I’ve heard of California Red but never went any further. From what I see online I WOULD LOVE TO HAVE THIS BREED.
Developed in the 70s at UC Davis. It’s a cross of Blackbelly Barb and Tunis. Dual purpose, polled, silky wool, calm and good natured.
Tunis is an old breed according to Farmer Google and endangered. Silky wool, good sized, polled, calm.

@Britgoes2market - are you in CA?
I'm in Idaho. :)
The original California Red was bred by Dr. Spurlock in the '70's hoping to create a wool-less or wool-shedding hair breed. He was probably hoping to compete with the Dorper breed that was starting to make its way into this country. He didn't manage to attain the hair sheep breed he was hoping for and gave away the original California Red animals that he had produced. The people who got those sheep liked them for their color and temperament and decided to continue breeding the few California Reds they had. While the breed gained some fans the California Red breed is not a popular breed. With so few individuals to breed, inbreeding was prevalent. The gene pool is extremely limited, and good breeding stock is harder to locate.

In 2012 the California Red Registry became concerned about the reduced quality of the breed and requested an assessment from the NAGP about the effects of inbreeding and lack of a larger gene pool in the California Red breed. The NAGP's assessment found that there would be a substantial decrease in breed performance due to inbreeding. The assessment recommended the California Red Registry reopen its herd registry for the purpose of registering new California Reds produced by Tunis x (Tunis x Blackbelly Barbados) to attain a larger gene pool. The NAGP stated that if sufficient California Red breeders took advantage of this program to produce new base stock, they could stem the loss of performance due to constant inbreeding and take advantage of hybrid vigor.

The loss of performance through inbreeding may be the reason why they don't appeal to some people. They sound wonderful on the breed websites but go to any breed website and that breed will appear to be the best breed in the world. LOL If the California Red is still suffering from heavy inbreeding, it will have lost wool quality, health, meat, ease of lambing, and production value - basically it's end purpose. If the person who said he would never have a California red had some of these highly inbred animals that may be the reason for his statement. The smaller the gene pool and the fewer the number of these animals, the harder it will be to obtain good quality animals. This is something you need to be aware of when looking for breeders.

If you decide to get this breed you need to remember that this is a wool breed requiring annual shearing. The California Red breeders claim the wool is lovely for hand spinners. There is a problem with that claim since California Red wool usually has hairs mixed in with the wool. Most spinners and wool processors don't want any hair fibers in their wool fleeces. Also, before you think you will be able to sell thee fleeces, no matter how nice the wool is you need to remember that there is little to no value to standard fleeces in the US. Fine wool is salable, but only after being converted into roving for hand spinners. Raw fleeces are very hard to sell. (My Dorset fleeces were hard to give away!) First, fleece "in the grease" is heavy so no one wants to pay for shipping it to them as a "raw" fleece. Specific fleeces from specific breeds with specific quality of wool can be sold to hand spinners, but unless you are a person who can convert the wool into roving (ready to spin bats) yourself, it will be expensive to have it done for you. You may have to clean and prepare your fleece for sale yourself. You have to "skirt" the fleece (pick off any vegetation and debris, dried poop etc., then wash the wool. Unless you have experience at this it is very easy to "felt" your wool during the washing process. (Ask me how I know! LOL) After washing the wool fleece, you will have to "card" it and make it into batts for spinning. Then you can spin it or sell it.

All good you say, but before you can do all that skirting, washing, carding, and roving you have to remove the wool from the sheep. Shearing is a lot of work and the equipment can be expensive. An electric shearing clipper runs anywhere from $100 for a cheap set to over $500 for a good set. The cheap sets can overheat and do not hold up. Then there are the blade sets. These run anywhere from $25 to $70 for a set. A set is 2 blades - the cutter and the comb. You can get by with the one set that comes with the shears if you only have one or two sheep to shear, and if you can sharpen the blades yourself. Otherwise, you will need several sets of blades so you can change them out when they get dull during your shearing adventure. They get dull quickly when shearing because a fleece is greasy and holds dirt which dulls the blades. Once you have finished the annual shearing you will have to take your blade sets to be sharpened. This will cost anywhere from $15 per pair to $30 per pair. And remember to buy plenty of Kool Lube to spray on the clipper blades to cool them down during shearing. And blade wash to get the lanolin off the clipper blades. Shearing is a skill that takes some time to learn since the shearing blades can take off a finger, teat, or in some cases a ram's jewels.

If you don't want to shear and need to hire someone, it can run from $10/hd to $50/hd depending on where you live, how far the shearer has to drive to your house and how many shearers are in your area. My sons and I can shear, I have the equipment, but I am older now and don't want to shear. It cost me $25/head and by the time I sold my Dorset sheep and bought Dorpers, the cost had gone to $50/head. Before you think that the fellow (who had been in 4-H with my children) was taking advantage remember that the cost to sharpen a set of blades had gone to $30 a pair, the cost of Kool Lube had gone t $15/can, etc. and he was driving 50 miles to my house one way.

While the California Red is a pretty breed with its red points, many people have turned from standard wool producing breeds to hair breeds and breeds that have wool in winter and shed out in summer. This is because they don't want to shear their flock of sheep anymore. There is a limited commercial wool market in the US now, the US wool subsidy ceased about 20 years ago. The wool market has been taken over by the Australian and New Zealand wool growers. Many commercial sheep growers have turned to meat only breeds since shearing cut into their overhead and added to the workload. I sold my Dorset sheep and bought White Dorpers which shed out.

Hopefully this will not have turned you off owning sheep and owning California Reds if that breed is your choice. We have owned sheep for 30 years and have enjoyed them. Having told you why some people will never have a wool breed, there are California Red breeders listed on the California Red Registry.

Good luck and have fun!
Okay, wow, that was an excellent reply. Far more information than what I could gather up. I actually have sheep. We really enjoy them. I have Suffolk Ewes and a Hampshire Ram. The appeal to this breed was not only the look, but also the smaller size. I think that I should do more research for sure! Thank you again for this information!
 

Britgoes2market

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The original California Red was bred by Dr. Spurlock in the '70's hoping to create a wool-less or wool-shedding hair breed. He was probably hoping to compete with the Dorper breed that was starting to make its way into this country. He didn't manage to attain the hair sheep breed he was hoping for and gave away the original California Red animals that he had produced. The people who got those sheep liked them for their color and temperament and decided to continue breeding the few California Reds they had. While the breed gained some fans the California Red breed is not a popular breed. With so few individuals to breed, inbreeding was prevalent. The gene pool is extremely limited, and good breeding stock is harder to locate.

In 2012 the California Red Registry became concerned about the reduced quality of the breed and requested an assessment from the NAGP about the effects of inbreeding and lack of a larger gene pool in the California Red breed. The NAGP's assessment found that there would be a substantial decrease in breed performance due to inbreeding. The assessment recommended the California Red Registry reopen its herd registry for the purpose of registering new California Reds produced by Tunis x (Tunis x Blackbelly Barbados) to attain a larger gene pool. The NAGP stated that if sufficient California Red breeders took advantage of this program to produce new base stock, they could stem the loss of performance due to constant inbreeding and take advantage of hybrid vigor.

The loss of performance through inbreeding may be the reason why they don't appeal to some people. They sound wonderful on the breed websites but go to any breed website and that breed will appear to be the best breed in the world. LOL If the California Red is still suffering from heavy inbreeding, it will have lost wool quality, health, meat, ease of lambing, and production value - basically it's end purpose. If the person who said he would never have a California red had some of these highly inbred animals that may be the reason for his statement. The smaller the gene pool and the fewer the number of these animals, the harder it will be to obtain good quality animals. This is something you need to be aware of when looking for breeders.

If you decide to get this breed you need to remember that this is a wool breed requiring annual shearing. The California Red breeders claim the wool is lovely for hand spinners. There is a problem with that claim since California Red wool usually has hairs mixed in with the wool. Most spinners and wool processors don't want any hair fibers in their wool fleeces. Also, before you think you will be able to sell thee fleeces, no matter how nice the wool is you need to remember that there is little to no value to standard fleeces in the US. Fine wool is salable, but only after being converted into roving for hand spinners. Raw fleeces are very hard to sell. (My Dorset fleeces were hard to give away!) First, fleece "in the grease" is heavy so no one wants to pay for shipping it to them as a "raw" fleece. Specific fleeces from specific breeds with specific quality of wool can be sold to hand spinners, but unless you are a person who can convert the wool into roving (ready to spin bats) yourself, it will be expensive to have it done for you. You may have to clean and prepare your fleece for sale yourself. You have to "skirt" the fleece (pick off any vegetation and debris, dried poop etc., then wash the wool. Unless you have experience at this it is very easy to "felt" your wool during the washing process. (Ask me how I know! LOL) After washing the wool fleece, you will have to "card" it and make it into batts for spinning. Then you can spin it or sell it.

All good you say, but before you can do all that skirting, washing, carding, and roving you have to remove the wool from the sheep. Shearing is a lot of work and the equipment can be expensive. An electric shearing clipper runs anywhere from $100 for a cheap set to over $500 for a good set. The cheap sets can overheat and do not hold up. Then there are the blade sets. These run anywhere from $25 to $70 for a set. A set is 2 blades - the cutter and the comb. You can get by with the one set that comes with the shears if you only have one or two sheep to shear, and if you can sharpen the blades yourself. Otherwise, you will need several sets of blades so you can change them out when they get dull during your shearing adventure. They get dull quickly when shearing because a fleece is greasy and holds dirt which dulls the blades. Once you have finished the annual shearing you will have to take your blade sets to be sharpened. This will cost anywhere from $15 per pair to $30 per pair. And remember to buy plenty of Kool Lube to spray on the clipper blades to cool them down during shearing. And blade wash to get the lanolin off the clipper blades. Shearing is a skill that takes some time to learn since the shearing blades can take off a finger, teat, or in some cases a ram's jewels.

If you don't want to shear and need to hire someone, it can run from $10/hd to $50/hd depending on where you live, how far the shearer has to drive to your house and how many shearers are in your area. My sons and I can shear, I have the equipment, but I am older now and don't want to shear. It cost me $25/head and by the time I sold my Dorset sheep and bought Dorpers, the cost had gone to $50/head. Before you think that the fellow (who had been in 4-H with my children) was taking advantage remember that the cost to sharpen a set of blades had gone to $30 a pair, the cost of Kool Lube had gone t $15/can, etc. and he was driving 50 miles to my house one way.

While the California Red is a pretty breed with its red points, many people have turned from standard wool producing breeds to hair breeds and breeds that have wool in winter and shed out in summer. This is because they don't want to shear their flock of sheep anymore. There is a limited commercial wool market in the US now, the US wool subsidy ceased about 20 years ago. The wool market has been taken over by the Australian and New Zealand wool growers. Many commercial sheep growers have turned to meat only breeds since shearing cut into their overhead and added to the workload. I sold my Dorset sheep and bought White Dorpers which shed out.

Hopefully this will not have turned you off owning sheep and owning California Reds if that breed is your choice. We have owned sheep for 30 years and have enjoyed them. Having told you why some people will never have a wool breed, there are California Red breeders listed on the California Red Registry.

Good luck and have fun!
I actually had intended to get some ewes and a Tunis Ram to see how they produced, and if I'm overly honest, I just thought it would be a fun venture. ;)
 

Ridgetop

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If you are doing it for fun, you might check with the breed association and see if the registry is still open then do some fun experimenting with a couple of CR ewes. Where are you located?
 

Ridgetop

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There are a couple breeders near the western side of Idaho. North near Spokane WA, south near Boise across the border in Oregon. On the east there are 2 breeders , one northeast, one southeast. I don't know prices but since they are not the latest fad (yet?) shouldn't be too expensive - $500+ range? Beware of people asking high prices because they are a "rare" breed. "Rare breed" status guarantees high prices and low quality. Do your homework on the bloodlines and make sure the breeders were members of the California Red Registry Rebuilding Plan to ensure that you are getting the widest genetic pool you can. Go online to the California Red Registry Rebuilding Plan and check out the requirements to produce new foundation lines for the breed. Knowing the ins and outs of the Rebuilding Plan will enable you to ask the right questions about the breeders' bloodlines and weed out those that are basing their bloodlines on just a few specimens. By doing this you will be able to find breeding stock that is hopefully not too inbred. We all know what happens to animals that are too inbred without an infusion of out cross breeding.
 

Britgoes2market

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There are a couple breeders near the western side of Idaho. North near Spokane WA, south near Boise across the border in Oregon. On the east there are 2 breeders , one northeast, one southeast. I don't know prices but since they are not the latest fad (yet?) shouldn't be too expensive - $500+ range? Beware of people asking high prices because they are a "rare" breed. "Rare breed" status guarantees high prices and low quality. Do your homework on the bloodlines and make sure the breeders were members of the California Red Registry Rebuilding Plan to ensure that you are getting the widest genetic pool you can. Go online to the California Red Registry Rebuilding Plan and check out the requirements to produce new foundation lines for the breed. Knowing the ins and outs of the Rebuilding Plan will enable you to ask the right questions about the breeders' bloodlines and weed out those that are basing their bloodlines on just a few specimens. By doing this you will be able to find breeding stock that is hopefully not too inbred. We all know what happens to animals that are too inbred without an infusion of out cross breeding.
Yes, thank you for the great advice! I found the one breeder in Oregon that I have been chatting with. They are part of the registry, and their prices seem to reflect the market here in Idaho as well. She also invited us out to look at them so I think we will take her up on that and just see! Thanks again for all your feedback! I have really enjoyed your input!
 
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