About Diggers Hill Sheep
Diggers Hill sheep are named after the locality in western
Southland, NZ, evolved in a feral state. They have, somewhat confusingly, also
been referred to as “Takitimu”, “Dean Forest” and “Fiordlander”, but the term
Diggers Hill is preferred and used here.
They appear to be basically of Merino origin, but are
distinct enough to be a recognizable breed, although there is some variation in
type. They are also typical of New Zealand feral sheep – small body weight,
less hair on the extremities, single lambing, and a tendency to shed their fine
but chalky fleece.
These sheep have never been shorn (as they shed their wool)
or treated with conventional animal health treatments. They are only handled to
shift paddocks or once a year bought into the yards for the annual stock count.
They have a wild nature and do not like to be handled too closely (they jump a
bit like goats). The lambing begins every year in May and I am told that is how
they have always behaved, including the ones still in the wild. All of our
sheep are white but the manager has seen some black ones in the wild.