The first large-scale sheep farming venture on Stewart
Island, New Zealand, was commenced in 1874 on what proved to be unsuitable
terrain at Scott Burn. Within a few years other sheep runs were taken up on
drier land at Island Hill and Kilbride in Masons Bay on the western coast.
Prior to this only small numbers of sheep had been kept on the island for
household supply, mostly at The Neck (on the east coast). Sheep farming was
never greatly successful on the island, although it did continue until the
Sheep that escaped from farming operations formed a feral
population and some have been recovered in recent years and maintained on the
mainland. These are described as being very like those from Arapawa Island in
size (i.e. relatively small) and general appearance – the rams having
particularly fine horns. They are mostly black and often have a patch of white
on the nose and between the eyes, and a white tip on the tail.
They are very alert and aware of what is going on around
them. In a group, a female will often act as a ‘lookout’ for the approach of
strangers. The ewes are very protective of their lambs. They don’t need
drenching and don’t get daggy. On lean feed they tend to hold their condition
better than commercial breeds.
Since the cessation of farming, the Department of
Conservation has taken steps to eradicate feral sheep (and other feral animals)
from Stewart Island to prevent them damaging native forest and the habitat of
Content and Photo
Source: New Zealand Rare Breeds (www.rarebreeds.co.nz