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New Zealand Sheep breeds


The Polwarth was developed in Victoria, Australia, in 1880 using Lincoln-Merino cross ewes and breeding back to Merino rams. Cross-breeding continued for many years in Australia. In 1932 the Polwarth arrived in New Zealand for the first time. The original Polwarth was horned and although horned Polwarths still exist, the polled variety is now more common.

The breed does better than the Merino in wet and cold conditions. Today Polwarths are farmed in Canterbury, Otago, Marlborough, Wairarapa and Hawkes Bay, although in small numbers.

The fine wool is highly regarded for worsted fabric manufacture, knitting yarns and apparels.

Dual-purpose, fine-wool breed with major emphasis on wool production. Rams are used to ‘fine-down’ coarse-woolled flocks, and to increase staple length, crimp and quality in other breeds.

Otago, Canterbury, Marlborough, Wairarapa and Hawkes Bay.

Active animals with clear with faces, wool on the poll and pink noses. Today they are mostly polled.


Body weight:
Ewes: 50–60 kg
Rams: 66–80 kg

Wool production:
Fibre diameter 23–25 microns
Staple length 125–175 mm
Fleece weight 5–6 kg

Lamb production:
100–120 per cent. Long breeding season.


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