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Karakul Sheep
A Rare Breed of Middle Eastern Origin
Released from quarantine in New Zealand in the mid-1990s were two sheep breeds – the Karakul and the Awassi, representatives of fat-tailed (and fat-rumped) sheep characteristic of the Middle East as well as southern Asia and North Africa (although they were found as far south as the African Cape by the seventeenth century). As the general name implies, they are distinguished by an accumulation of fat in the tail and around the rump which evolved as a store of food necessary for survival in a harsh, drought-prone environment. Descriptions of such sheep can be found in the earliest records of...
Rate:  (3.6)
Dorset Horn Sheep
A Rare Breed of British Origin
The Dorset Horn, which was developed to its present form in the mid 1800s, and is known for its all round qualities as a meat and wool producer. Its chief distinction is its horns – large and curled – in both rams and ewes. Ewes with horns of this size and type are unique to the Dorset breed among modern domestic sheep, while the rams’ horns are even larger and tightly curled in “regimental mascot” style. The Dorset Horn is a big sheep, hardy and very active. It boasts capacious stomach and is an excellent “doer”; a ewe in good condition tends always to look as though she is in lamb a...
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Dorper Sheep
A Rare Breed of South African Origin
An extremely recent arrival from South Africa is the Dorper, billed as the ultimate mutton breed. Hardy and adaptable to a wide range of conditions, it is noted for its fertility – and like the » Dorset Horn which was one of its progenitors, it can lamb twice yearly, producing lambs with an extremely fast growth rate. It is also possessed of a self-shedding fleece. Dorpers were developed in South Africa in the 1950s and come in two varieties – the black-headed (Dorset Horn x Persian) and white-headed (Dorset Horn x van Rooey). Embryos of purebred Dorpers were imported from Australia in Febr...
Rate:  (4)
Dohne Sheep
A Rare Breed of South African Origin
The Dohne, sometimes called the ‘Mutton Merino’ is said to have achieved the ‘holy grail’ of producing fast-growing lambs for slaughter, combined with the highest quality fine Merino wool. Developed in South Africa, it arrived in New Zealand in 1998. Its numbers in New Zealand can probably be counted in dozens at the present time, but it is already noted for its hardiness and adaptability. As well as being kept as a pure breed, the Dohne will also be used to improve traditional breeds such as the Corriedale. (The Dohne should not be confused with the SAMM, or South African Mutton Merino, wh...
Rate:  (3.4)
Awassi Sheep
A Rare Breed of Middle East Origin
In 1991 the New Zealand Government identified the Awassi as having a future input into the country’s sheep production, especially for milk. Israel had developed an improved dairy strain, and about 150 embryos were subsequently imported into quarantine. These were released in 1995, and an intensive breeding program was introduced. No sooner had it begun than the Government decided to get out of Awassi sheep, and the flock was obtained up by a Saudi Arabian Company calling itself “Awassi New Zealand”. This company controls the Awassi breed within New Zealand, but has exported two thirds of the s...
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Cheviot Sheep
A Minority Breed of British Origin
Cheviot sheep are a very old breed that originated in the Cheviot Hills on the border between England and Scotland. Originally called ‘Long sheep’ (a name used since at least 1470) or ‘White sheep’ (in contrast to the Scottish Blackface), Cheviots were a mountain breed of extreme hardiness, which would produce meat and wool on cold, wet, hilly country. It was these characteristics that led Sir John Sinclair to select the breed to be taken to the North of Scotland in the late 1700s to replace the original sheep of the area. It was there that Sir John who bestowed on them the name Cheviot. Th...
Rate:  (2.9)