a breed of fine-wooled sheep developed from 1920 to 1952 in southern regions of the European USSR through the selection and culling of crossbreeds obtained by crossing Ma-zaev and New Caucasian merinos (improved by Rambouillet rams) and of crossbreeds obtained by the grading-up of local coarse-wooled ewes with Merino rams. Many flocks were later improved by crosses with sheep of the Askaniia, Caucasian, Stavropol’, Groznyi, and Altai breeds. The breed includes two types: one type raised for wool, and the other for wool and meat.
The fleece is closed—that is, it is a very dense fleece. The wool, which is mainly of 64th quality, is of uniform thickness, length (7.5–10 cm), and twist. A clipping yields 13–16 kg (sometimes as much as 24 kg) of wool from rams and 5–7 kg (sometimes as much as 12 kg) from ewes. The yield of scoured wool is 36–42 percent. Rams of the wool-meat type weigh 95–115 kg, and ewes 50–60 kg. Sheep of the wool type weigh 5–10 kg less than the other type. Fertility is 120 to 140 lambs per 100 ewes. The sheep are well adapted to winter pasturing.
The Soviet Merino breed is raised in Stavropol’ Krai, Rostov Oblast, Astrakhan Oblast, Western Siberia, the Kalmyk ASSR, and the Kazakh SSR.