Kia Ora! ("Hello!" in Maori language) Do you know that New Zealand has more sheep per capita than any country in the world? Standing at a population of 45 millions, that is more than 11 to 1 per man, woman and child in New Zealand! The first Sheep were landed in New Zealand by Captain Cook in 1773. The Sheep population grew to 70 million in 1982 but has dwindled since then due to declining profits compared to other types of farming.
For today, I am going to share with you a set of beautiful stamps depicting the 6 main sheep breeds in New Zealand. This was issued in 1991.Coopworths make up the second largest flock in New Zealand. They are used for both meat and wool. Coopworths are selected for productivity and easy care characteristics. Difficult births are of low incidence and ewes have very strong mothering instincts, seldom leaving their lambs after birth. Multiple births are most common and the Coopworth ewe will provide an abundance of milk. Their lambs grow well with the addition of grass, making this breed ideal for low-input, pasture-based systems. With just over 5 million Perendales are a hardy breed. They are easy to muster, make very good mothers, and will thrive on poorer feed. Perendales are a dual purpose breed as they are kept for both their meat and wool. Their wool is finer than most cross breed wools and will grow between 10 and 15 cm long during a year. A Perendale grows between 3.5 and 5 kg of wool a year. The white Perendale wool is very popular with knitters. It has exceptional spring which means that knitted garments will keep their shape longer and carpets wont flatten easily. Corriedales are a dual purpose breed, meaning they are used both in the production of wool and meat. The Corriedale is the oldest of all the crossbred breeds.They have a long life span, and are hardy and evenly balanced all over the body. Corriedales are docile, easy care mothers, with high fertility. They adapt well to a wide range of climate conditions. Corriedales produce a thick stapled, bulky fleece, which is popular with spinners and can be used for a range of handspun garments. Corriedale lambs produce good quality carcases and have a high pelt value. During the 1930s and 40s Dr Francis Dry, a scientist at Massey University found that some Romneys carried a powerful gene which produced a long course straight fleece. The fleece was also "hairy" or heavily medulated - an excellent property for giving carpets lots of bounce or resilience. Dr Dry found that this "hairiness" factor was passed on from one generation to the next so, with careful breeding, he was able to build up a flock of hairy sheep - the Drysdale. Today carpet makers pay a premium for this wool which grows so long, 20 - 30 cms, that the sheep are usually shorn twice a year. A fleece is heavy, about 6 kgs, and the wool is a chalky white colour. There are more than 200,000 Drysdales in New Zealand and unlike their Romney cousins, both rams and ewes have horns. South Suffolks are a black-faced, open-faced breed raised primarily for meat. Suffolks were originally developed in England as the result of crossing Southdown rams on Norfolk Horned ewes.The Romney, which originally came from the lowland of England, is New Zealand’s most popular breed. When introduced to New Zealand during the 1850’s it was farmed on the wet lowland regions. However, as the bush was cleared and farms developed on the steep hills of the North Island, it was found that the Romney was ideally suited to this new and quite different environment. The breed changed to suit its new surroundings to become, over the years, a distinct breed - the New Zealand Romney. Today 25 million Romney graze the hills producing both meat and wool. Its wool, which can reach a length of 18cm, is course and creamy in colour. It is an ideal carpet wool and is also used in other hard wearing materials such as furnishing fabrics blankets, and knitting yarn for heavy sweaters.
I will end my posting here by sharing with you some photos taken during our Kiwi vacation in the summer of 2007.
Christchurch Cathedral Church of the Good Shepherd Mount Cook in the background Milford Sound Cruise Spectacular view of Queenstown Another view of Queenstown from the top! Quad Bike Ride Shotover Jet Photo 1 Shotover Jet Photo 2 Shotover Jet Photo 3