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
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