New Zealand sheep breeds

Discussion in 'Sheep' started by Faith Farm, Mar 6, 2005.

  1. Faith Farm

    Faith Farm Well-Known Member

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    I am considering raising sheep for meat on grass managed pasture
    to a local ethnic market. I have been told by people who believe
    New Zealand, European and Austrailian lamb has a fuller and
    richer flavor than American raised lamb. My daughter throughly
    enjoyed lamb and mutton during her stay in New Zealand last year.
    My questions:
    Are New Zealand breeds available here in the USA?
    Is there a distinct difference in these breeds vs American?
    Thank you.
     
  2. bergere

    bergere Just living Life

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    Most New Zealand breeds are in the USA, with exception of the Gotland.

    Much of the difference in taste can normally attributed to the forage, water and the like. I honestly do not think we can recreate what they have going in NZ.

    Some of their crosses we can re create over here.

    Here is a web site of most of the sheep breeds in NZ.

    http://www.nzsheep.co.nz/
     

  3. Ronney

    Ronney Well-Known Member

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    Hello Faith?,
    Bergere has the right of it. Most animals are what they eat. Our sheep are grazed outdoor 12/12 and apart from the South Island where it does get very cold, are not supplementary fed. Your daughter will have enjoyed the taste because what she was eating would have been grass fed and wouldn't have had the bland taste of something that had spent most of it's life eating corn, maize, hay and whatever else.

    Most breeds that we have here, you should be able to source in the States.
    The last 20 years has seen an upsurge in new breeds such as Dorper, Wiltshire, Polled Dorsets and Texels but the main preferred breeds are still Romney and Perendale both of which are good dual purpose sheep with the likes of Border Leicsters and South Suffolks being used as terminal sires. You may have trouble sourcing the Perendale which is a NZ breed achieved by interbreeding Cheviot and Romney and first registered in 1960. Because we are still wool producers, we tend to lean towards dual purpose sheep and both the Romney and Perendale fit that category.

    I myself run a flock of Romney/Border Leicster cross using a Romeny as a terminal sire. This gives me a very nice wool clip and I can't produce enough sheep meat for the local market. However, if you are leaning more towards meat production, have a look at the South Suffolk. This is another NZ breed incorparting both the Southdown and the Suffolk and first registered in 1958.
    This has the quick maturity and carcase shape of the Southdown and the high flesh to fat ratio of the Suffolk. Again, I'm not sure if you would be able to source it in the States.

    No matter which breed you opt for, if your are able to graze them outdoors the year round, you are going to produce good meat - and word gets around so good luck with it. If I can help in any way, don't hesitate to ask.

    Cheers,
    Ronnie
     
  4. Slev

    Slev Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I'm not sure which ethnic market you're trying to serve, but unless it's a misplaced New Zelander from Lord of the Rings, NONE of the various ethnic groups that I've sold to have ever requested a specific breed or type. They do however have strong preferences as to weight of the lamb they wish to purchase. (And get this) ...without giving any regard to the general size of the individual size of the breed. I don't know about those market locations that are flooded with the ethnic crowd, but I can say that all of my dealings, they have been polite, nice people and in turn, I have been respectful of their situation. The term "Ethnic" implies it, but there have been at least 5 distinct nationalities of people buying my lambs from me.

    I agree, the flavor is in the grass.
     
  5. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    Typical NZ lamb is older grass fed and a wool breed, simply plan to raise the lambs to 120 pounds on grass over 14 months and maybe feed a little cerial grains. You'll find preferences for stronger flavours and milder types, but most of the people I sell to want the milder flavour. Sorry to say typically frozen NZ lamb is too fatty to attract the restaraunt market but the fresh stuff they fly in is first class. Ethnic market is not very descriptive, the muslim crowd (Shia) want lean male white faced lambs at least 6 months old or older. The Italian market want young (3 month) grain fed light lamb or no older than 8 month old plump heavy lambs. I haven't sold to the Greecian buyers. Farmers market here wants lean lamb and under 14 months, I expect if the flavour went too strong it wouldn't sell.
     
  6. kit

    kit Well-Known Member

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    While my brother in law was in Australia with work, he ate a fair amount of lamb. Once back here in Canada, he finally tried our Katahdin lamb and said it was the best lamb he had ever eaten. And, no he isn't just saying that because he has to!! He has become a very regular customer!! So, Ross is correct, it will depend on your markets and what the prefer.....
     
  7. Faith Farm

    Faith Farm Well-Known Member

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    Thank you all for the advice and info. My wife and I plan to
    spend a lot of time @ a friends farm gleaning her expertise.
    She has been raising sheep for about 6 years not to far from
    our farm. We met her @ a local Extention Service class addressing
    small farm opportunities.
    We have about 60 acres of open field which I plan to partition
    into paddocks, install water lines and stations to each, overseed
    our fields for a prolonged grazing season and follow each livestock
    rotation with our flock of chickens in a portable hoop house to help
    fertilize fields.
    I hope to purchase my starter ram from Jane our lady farmer friend
    and a few ewes from another breeder in the area. We have not decided
    on the breed yet but they will share the pasture with a dozen angus and
    several meat goats. All this will happen when my perimeter fence is finished.
    Woven wire with top and bottom strand of hot wire which will cover a lot
    of barbed wire already in place.
    This forum is awsome and a wonderful source for help from all over the world.
    Thank you again for all your support.
    Paul @ FAith Farm
     
  8. mamalisa

    mamalisa Well-Known Member

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    I'm raising Rambouillets.....I picked them because the sheep book said they were a good dual-purpose breed, and I love them. They are tame, not spooky...lamb easily, do well on grass with just enough grain so they come in at night, and the wool is gorgeous! They finish up well, too, and make nice carcass weight.

    Our ram has a wonderful personality, just like a big dog, and the ewes are easy to handle as well. Our first lambing season went without problems.

    One thing to watch out for is their feet. VA can be kind of soggy.
     
  9. CCSheep

    CCSheep Member

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    I have been crossing Texel rams on different ewe breeds and just are ready to lamb some Coopworth ewes with this cross for the first time. Coopworth sheep were developed in NZ in the 1960's and imported into the US in the 70's-80's. Holding true to NZ tradition, they are another dual purpose breed. There are folks breeding Coops in the US. I was attracted to the Coopworth ewes as they are to lamb as ewe lambs and are unregistered by the association if they don't have a certain number of lambs in their first 3 years of life so I like that they are a production-oriented sheep and the registry holds true to this. Using the Texel ram on these ewes, we should be getting meaty lambs (Texels add muscle to any breed) and just sheared prior to lambing and the ewe lambs (11 months old) gave 8+ lb. fleeces. Ronney, do you see a lot of Coops in your area? You didn't mention them in your post.

    Jami B.
     
  10. Ronney

    Ronney Well-Known Member

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    Hi Jami,
    I shouldn't have forgotten the Coopworth - after all there are 11 million of them here :p They were first registered in 1968 and developed by crossing the Border Leicester and Romney - both of which breeds I run here. They are an easy care sheep, produce heavy fleece weights and have a very high lambing percentage with twins and triplets being the norm rather than the exception. I have never spun it but I believe the wool is excellent for spinning.

    A good all-rounder and well worth a second look.

    Cheers,
    Ronnie
     
  11. bergere

    bergere Just living Life

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    I have spun Coopworth fleece... nice stuff, very easy to spin.
    Here is a sweater my Aunt knitted for me, out of my Handpsun Coopworth yarn.

    [​IMG]
     
  12. CCSheep

    CCSheep Member

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    Beautiful sweater bergere! And thanks for the input, Ronney, on Coops in NZ. I am real pleased with them so far, but the lambing will be the proof in the puddin' on how well they cross with Texels. I have yet to learn to spin but I did save 3 fleeces out of my wool clip a few weeks ago to try to learn. I was surprised how much wool these little girls had on them at 11 months old.

    Jami B.
    Ellensburg, WA