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A Rare Breed of New Zealand Origin
The Hokonui hills in the heart of Southland, New Zealand, are widely known as the home of an illicit and potent “Home Brew” whisky. Not so well known is an interesting breed of wild sheep which have made the rugged and isolated Hokonui Hills their home for more than a century.
At one time more than 2000 Merino sheep roamed the hills. Today only about 100 remain feral. Another 100 to 150 are being retained in domestic flocks.
Wild sheep were known to occur in this area as early as 1863 – only a few years after the first Merinos had been brought to the district.
Re-domesticated Hokonui sheep continue to display feral behaviour patterns. They build strong family groups, and quite frequently a junior ram will stand guard over a younger lamb while the mother goes off to feed.
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