Arapawa Island Sheep
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About Arapawa Island SheepAbout Arapawa Island Sheep



rnrnHistorical records suggest that sheep havernbeen known on Arapawa Island, NZ, in the Marlborough Sounds for at least 130rnyears.


rnrnMost likely the Arapawa feral sheep arernescapees of a flock of Merino Sheep.


rnrnTo those unused to their distinctivernappearance, Arapawa sheep may at first acquaintance seem ungainly or even ugly,rnwith their somewhat hunched appearance and often ragged fleece. Certainly theyrnbear little resemblance to their more immediate Merino ancestors and even lessrnto the Merinos familiar to us all today.


rnrnArapawas are not large sheep, being ratherrnlean and light-boned. The clear narrow face and head, with alert bright eyes,rnis set on a long neck and topped with slender ears. Rams may have spiraledrnhorns which can be over a meter in length. Their light build, together withrntheir rather long legs, makes them a very active sheep as befits animals whichrnhad to survive for more than a century in very steep and hostile terrain – notrninfrequently invaded by equally hostile human hunters.


rnrnIn repose Arapawas carry their heads ratherrnlow, and it is this tendency coupled with low-set long tails, which gives themrna hunched look.


rnrnTheir most common coloring is all black –rnwith a depth of blackness which is particularly striking in the lambs – butrnArapawas may often have white points, and on very rare occasions be pure white.rnThe most strikingly colored are those which are spotted with white over thernwhole body, and which are often referred to as 'cocktail' Arapawas.


rnrnThe fleece of the Arapawa is of Merino-likernfineness and is of particularly high bulk which makes it of interest to textilernmanufacturers; it also makes excellent waterproof felts for head and footwear.rnIt has, as well, great insulating properties – important for a sheep in thernwild. However, individual fleece weights are considerably less than those foundrnin commercial wool breeds, although the natural tendency for the fleece to bernshed, which occurs in most wild sheep, is not so marked under farm conditions.rnFeral sheep are also naturally more resistant to fly-strike, and at AgResearchrnLincoln in Canterbury, NZ, research is currently underway to introduce thisrncharacteristic of the Arapawa into a new "no-fuss" sheep breed.


rnrnArapawa meat is fine-grained, sweet, lean,rnand with a special 'gamey' flavor much sought by restaurateurs.


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



Arapawa Island Sheep Associations


New Zealand Arapawa Goat Association
www.arapawagoats.com
The New Zealand Arapawa Goat Association is made up of a group of people from around the world who are passionate about the survival and welfare of this beautiful, critically at-risk breed of small goat.

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