Campbell Island Sheep
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About Campbell Island SheepAbout Campbell Island Sheep



The first sheep were landed on sub Antarctic Campbell Island (over 600 kilometers south of the New Zealand mainland) in 1895 after a grazing lease had been taken up. Two thousand more were introduced in 1901, and a further thousand in 1902. Both of the first introductions are known to have been Merinos, but the last was of an unknown breed - at least some must have been longwools such as Lincolns or Leicesters.

As a result, the Campbell Island sheep are one of the few feral breeds known to have anything other than Merino blood; they range from quarter- to half-bred Merino-longwool crosses. Campbell Island sheep do not have the high proportion of colored animals that occur in some feral flocks.

When farming was abandoned on Campbell Island in 1931 the remaining 4000 sheep were left to run wild. In 1970 half the island was fenced off and the sheep in the northern half were killed, leaving only those in the southern half. Ten of the latter were brought to the New Zealand mainland in 1976, and by the late 1980s all the sheep remaining on the island had been exterminated.

Descendants of the ten sheep rescued were kept on Government farms, where they were maintained as a purebred flock until mid-2005, when they transferred to private ownership – this flock is still in existence in North Canterbury. Some breeding up was undertaken at Invercargill from rams released from the purebred flock, however this flock has died out.

  Content and Photo Source: New Zealand Rare Breeds (www.rarebreeds.co.nz).

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