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New Zealand Sheep breeds

East Friesian

This long established breed originated in the Friesland/Ost Friesland area in the north of Holland and Germany. In December 1992 eleven pregnant ewes and four rams were imported into New Zealand from Sweden. A breeding programme began in quarantine, with only those animals derived from the embryo transfers eligible for release from quarantine.

The first release occurred in March 1996, with 40 rams being sold while the remaining animals were held back to expand the flock numbers. However, there were substantial sales of semen, with an estimated 50,000 ewes of various breeds being artificially inseminated.

In 1995, the first flock was registered with the NZSBA by Silverstream East Friesians. Several more flocks were registered in 1996, and this has continued.

The most productive milking sheep breed in the world, producing 500-600 litres per 210 to 230 day lactation. It may become the basis for establishing a sheep milking industry for the production of fetta cheese and other sheep milk products. The East Friesian’s wool is ideal carpet wool.

A dual purpose, high fertility breed used to increase flock fertility. A sire for creating crossbred ewes and as a terminal crossing sire. Also used for breeding milking ewes.

Throughout New Zealand.

A large framed sheep, thin tailed, and very clean around the back end. Pink nose, and head and legs clear of wool, pale hooves. Lean on the outside of their carcase. High fertility; very milky.


Body weight:
Ewes: 75–95 kg
Rams: 100–125 kg

Wool production:
Fibre diameter 35–37 microns
Staple length 120–160 kg
Fleece weight 4–5 kg

Lamb production:
280 per cent in mature ewes


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