The East Friesian breed originated in the
Friesland area in the north of Holland and Germany. In Europe it has been used
either purely as a milking breed - it is considered to be the worlds highest
producing dairy sheep - though it is often crossed with other breeds to improve
fecundity and milk production in breeds that are bred for their meat or for
their milk production. The East Friesian is described as a large-framed,
high-fertility breed with a pink nose and a thin tail.
Some breeders refer to their very quiet
temperament and docile nature, though it is not clear whether this is more
pronounced than other sheep that have close contact with humans.
The New Zealand Sheep Breeders' Association
reports that the first importation of East Friesians to this New Zealand was in
December 1992 when eleven pregnant ewes and four rams were imported from Sweden
and were put into a private quarantine station at Silverstream, near Dunedin.
Thereafter a breeding program was commenced using embryo transfer techniques,
with only those animals derived from the embryo transfers eligible for release
The first release took place in March 1996,
with 40 rams being sold while the remaining animals were retained to expand the
flock numbers. However, there were substantial sales of semen, with an
estimated 50,000 ewes of various breeds being artificially inseminated.
The first flock was registered in 1995 and
by 2014 there were seven stud flocks registered in New Zealand. There are,
however, a number of small unregistered flocks of purebred or crossbred East
Content and Photo Source: New Zealand Rare