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breeds of fine-wooled sheep with uniform fleece. Fine-wooled sheep are believed to be native to Southwest Asia, where they were bred in the third and second centuries B.C. They subsequently appeared in Mediterranean countries and, beginning in the mid-18th century, were imported into Western Europe, North America, and Australia.

In Russia, various types of Merinos imported from other countries were bred in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. These breeds included the Electoral, Infantado, Negretti, and Rambouillet. Also raised in Russia were breeds developed by Russian sheep breeders—Russian Infantado, Mazaevskaia, and Novokavkazskaia. Soviet sheep breeders have developed highly productive breeds of Merino sheep, including the Ascanian, Soviet Merino, Azerbaijan Mountain Merino, Caucasian, Altai, Salskaia, Stavropol’, and Groznyi.

Merino fleece is made up of fine (15-25 microns), soft, fluffy fibers. The curly wool is 6-8 cm long after one year. The wool clip is 8-12 kg for rams (record is 30.6 kg, from an Ascanian ram), and 4-6 kg for ewes. The yield of pure wool is 35-45 percent. The distinguishing feature of Merinos is the presence of folds of skin on the neck and sometimes on the body. Merinos are crossbred with semifine-wooled and coarse-wooled breeds to improve the wool productivity of the last two.

Merinos are raised in most countries of the world. The largest populations are found in Australia (Australian Merinos), the USSR, and the Republic of South Africa (Australian Merinos, primarily the fine-wooled type). In the USSR, Merinos are raised in the Ukraine, in the steppe regions of the Northern Caucasus, in the Lower and Middle Volga regions, in southern Siberia, in Kazakhstan and Kirghizia, and in several regions of Transcaucasia.


Ovtsevodstvo. Edited by P. A. Esaulov and G. R. Litovchenko. Moscow, 1963.
Rukovodstvo po razvedeniiu zhivotnykh, vol. 3, book 2. Moscow, 1965. (Translated from German.)
References in periodicals archive ?
James Hassall, Marsden's grandson, indicates in his book In Old Australia in 1902, some share of the honour of founding our merino industry justly belongs to the Rev.
This purchase included a nucleus of Marsden sheep, which formed the `Gamboola Merino Stud' in 1846.
John Smith and his wife, Mary (nee Tom), prospered and by the time they had purchased `Boree Cabonne' in January 852, they controlled vast holding and an extensive merino flock.
Lancelot Noel Smith, John's son, took over `Boree Cabonne' in 1872 and registered Merino Flock No 8.
Recorded in the Register of Stud Merino Flocks, Vol XVII 1938, are the following pure Spanish merino flocks descended from Marsden's stock though Betts, Smith and Kater Brothers and on to `Egelabra', as of June 1938 based on annual returns, 30 June 1937.
In Molong this March, a committee was formed to establish the `Samuel Marsden Rural History Centre' with a view to researching and recording this great merino family.
Cox, The Evolution of the Australian Merino, Angus & Robertson, Sydney, 1936, p.