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New Zealand Sheep breeds

New Zealand Romney

The New Zealand Romney dominates the New Zealand sheep industry and currently accounts for 55% of the national flock. Originally from the wet fens of sought-east England, where the breed is known as the Romney Marsh, it arrived in New Zealand in1853 to form the basis of the Ludlam Flock at Upper Hutt near Wellington. But it was 50 years later before numbers increased rapidly and it began to displace English Leicester and Lincoln on wetter lowland regions. Under these conditions the Romney thrived and under went considerable change to become a distinct New Zealand breed. In the early 1960s, when the breed extended to every corner of New Zealand, three-quarters of the country’s 50 million sheep were Romney. But performances varied widely and New Zealand farmers crossed the Romney with the Cheviot (to form the Perendale) and Border Leicester (to form the Coopworth) to breed sheep better adapted to particular environments.

Over the years Romney wool has formed the basis of New Zealand’s high reputation as a crossbred wool producer. The breed has found popularity in many overseas countries. About 60% of Romney wool is used in carpet blends. Blankets, coarse dress fabrics, overcoatings and furnishing are other end uses.

Dual-purpose breed with equal emphasis on meat and wool. Long, medium-lustre wool.

Widespread throughout New Zealand in almost all environments.

Medium-sized sheep with white face and legs usually covered with wool. Clear around the eyes. Black nose.

25.1 million

Body weight:
45–55 kg

Wool production:
Fibre diameter: 33–37 microns
Staple length: 125–175 mm
Fleece weight: 4.5–6 kg

Lamb production:
90–120 per cent


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