Other Breeds

Australian Breeds
A number of breeds have been developed and "fixed" genetically by breeders in Australia and New Zealand. Foremost of these are the Corriedale and Polwarth, though the Perendale, Turidale and Drysdale are also important - especially in New Zealand where they were first produced.

This is the main "dual purpose" breed, capable of producing a second fleece of "Comeback" wool (i.e. coarser than, but coming back towards, the merino style) and at the same time having the ability to produce an acceptable meat sheep carcass.

This breed was produced by crossing the Lincoln and Merino and then carefully selecting the progeny to fix a desirable type. The Corriedale was developed simultaneously in New Zealand and Australia and is now one of the world's most successful dual purpose breeds. It is found in significant numbers in Australia and New Zealand as well as South America, the USA, South Africa, India and parts of Asia.

In Australia it is mainly raised in the higher rainfall areas where it is more tolerant of prolonged periods of wet weather than the Merino.

In external appearance the Corriedale is a large framed, hornless sheep, with dark pigmented skin on nostrils and lips and a heavy fleece of long stapled, bulky wool.

This breed was developed in Victoria by starting with a Lincoln/Merino first cross, and then crossing back the Merino again. As such the Polwarth is three quarters Merino and displays many of the same visual characteristics. It does not have horns.

This breed also is sought for its ability to thrive in areas considered too wet for the Merino, and produces a long stapled fleece of approximately the same fibre diameter as the strongest wooled Merinos.

Some Polwarths are to be found in New Zealand and South America, but they are principally confined to Southern Australia and in particular Tasmania and Victoria.

British Breeds
There are a larger number of breeds which came to this country from England and are used primarily in the production of sheep meats. These can be categorised into the "longwool" types (such as the Border Leicester) and the "Downs" or "shortwool" breeds such as the Southdown and Dorset Horn. The commercially important among these breeds are discussed below.

It is worth noting, however, that some of the breeds that have little commercial significance today have contributed greatly to the development of Australia's sheep industry.

In particular, the English Leicester and Lincoln were prominent in early flocks and played an important role in the overall development of Australian sheep and wool.

Border Leicester
This breed had its origins in the Border regions between England and Scotland and first came to Australia in the 1870s. Their principal use is to cross with the Merino ewes for production of Border Leicester/Merino ewes which in turn are mated to Downs breed rams to produce prime lambs.

They are large, robust hornless sheep, with no wool on face or legs. Their wool tends to be very long and, by Australian standards, very coarse.

Through this is the premiere breed in New Zealand, and is the cornerstone of their prime lamb industry, the Romney is little seen in this country.

In recent times, however, there has been an increasing interest in the production of carpet wools in Australia, and the Romney has an important role in that specialist field.

Poll Dorset
This breed was developed in Australia by breeders who sought to retain the desirable characteristics of the Dorset Horn, but wished to eliminate that breed's horns, which presented significant management and husbandry problems.
The Poll Dorset is now the most commonly used sire in the production of prime lambs. Its main distinguishing features are its hornless appearance, long square body set on short legs, and 'spongy' short-stapled wool.

Perhaps the smallest of our sheep breeds, the Southdown has an important role in the production of prime quality sheep meats. When mated to Border/Merino ewes the resultant lambs have the ability to very quickly reach a marketable weight. They are especially prized by breeders seeking to market their lambs in the early 'spring lamb' market, as this often provides a premium price.

The distingushing features of the Southdown are its short square head of almost 'piggish' appearance, very square and long body, and extremely short legs. The wool is quite short and spongy.

Dorset Horn
These sheep are characterised by their very square, chunky appearance and long body, and especially by their massive horns, on both rams and ewes. They are important commercially for their ability to pass to their progeny their superior carcass composition and their ability to grow very rapidly.

Carpet Wool Breed
wool carpets are made from the very coarsest wools and until recently little or no wool of this type was produced in Australia. New Zealand, however, is a large producer of carpet wool, as their sheep industry is primarily based on the coarse woolled Romney.

In Australia two new breeds of sheep are beginning to attract a following for their ability to produce carpet type wools. These are the Tukidale and Drysdale, both genetic mutations or 'sports' derived from the New Zealand Romney. Both types are stocky in appearance and produce an extremely long stapled fleece of very coarse wool.

A number of other breeds are found in Australia, but at present are of little commercial importance. These breeds would include:
Longwools: Lincoln, Cheviot, English Leicester
Shortwools: Shropshire, Suffolk, South Suffolk, Ryeland, Hampshire Down, Wiltshire Horn