One of New Zealands lesser known flocks of feral sheep has
been found on Woodstock Station, lying on the middle reaches of the Waimakariri
River valley west of Oxford in Canterbury. The Station is immediately adjacent
to the Oxford State Forest, New Zealand.
During initial surveys of feral sheep in the 1970s they were
considered to be of little significance and were among those tagged for
eradication by the Department of Conservation. However, a more recent awareness
of the potential genetic importance of feral flocks of early origin has
resulted in a renewed interest in the Woodstock sheep.
The flock is believed to have originated from an
introduction of Merinos to the Station in the 1890s, a time when there was
little fencing. Escapees were therefore easily able to establish themselves as
a feral flock in the indigenous forest as well as the tussock grasslands. The present-day
sheep have clean legs and faces and are disease and dag free. The rams are
characteristically horned. Although basically white-woolled, one unique feature
of the Woodstock sheep is the percentage of ‘badger-faced’ animals found among
them. This is a primitive color pattern not found in other feral flocks in New
Although the Canterbury section of the Rare Breeds
Conservation Society financed the recovery of a number of Woodstock sheep,
their present status is unknown.
Content and Photo Source: New
Zealand Rare Breeds (www.rarebreeds.co.nz