Merino sheep originated in Spain. They were first imported into the United States in 1793. The three types of Merinos are called A, B, and C. The A and B types have wrinkled skins, with the A type being more wrinkled than the B type. Wrinkled-skin Merinos are known as American Merinos. The C type Merino, called Delaine Merino, has very little wrinkle to the skin. Only the Delaine Merino is popular in the United States.
The fleece of the Delaine Merino is white and grows about 2.5 to 4 inches (6.4 to 7.6 cm) per year and must be 21.5 microns or finer (spinning count 64 and higher). The rams may be horned or polled and the ewes polled. Merinos are medium in size and have angular bodies. The Delaine Merino is the largest of the Merinos. Merinos have a strong banding instinct and are able to do well on poor grazing land and in all types of climate. The ewes are exceptional mothers. Their wool demands high prices around the world and, therefore, is called the “Golden Fleece.”