Diversity

About Pitt Island SheepAbout Pitt Island Sheep



 Photo Source: New Zealand Rare Breeds
Photo Source: New Zealand Rare Breeds
The feral flock of sheep on Pitt Island in the Chatham group of New Zealand, which existed in the nineteen-seventies, likely originated from Saxony Merinos that were initially introduced to South-East Island, another island in the Chatham group, in 1841. Later, these sheep were transferred to Pitt Island, where they formed a feral population that thrived for almost a century.

In 1981, recognizing the significance of this unique population, a Reserve was established on Pitt Island to protect 300 of these animals. Additionally, some of these sheep were transported to mainland New Zealand for various purposes.

Pitt Island sheep are predominantly colored, and they exhibit self-shedding fleeces, which is a characteristic trait often observed in feral breeds. The rams of this population are particularly noteworthy for their impressive horns, which can measure up to a meter in length when curved.

A study conducted on the sheep within the Reserve in 1981 by Dr. M. R. Rudge revealed interesting findings about their characteristics. Only a small percentage of rams and ewes were white, with the majority of rams exhibiting horns. However, while a significant portion of ewes had scurs (small, undeveloped horns), only a fraction had true horns.