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How Many Sheep?

Sheep Numbers in New Zealand, 2005

Common as well as Rare and Minority Breeds

In 2005 the Rare Breeds Conservation Society of New Zealand compiled the following table of sheep numbers in New Zealand, obtaining the data from the sources given in the references beneath the table. Variations in numbers may, in many cases, be due to what they actually represent – ranging from full flock estimates to counts of registered ewes mated – and to differing dates of publication. By May 2006, some of the websites referred to below were either no longer available or no longer contained the figures quoted here.

BreedNew Zealand
Wool Board 1
Sheep Breeds of
New Zealand 2
Meat & Wool
Innovation 3
New Zealand
Sheepbreeders 4
Rare Breeds
Awassi19 (in 1995)<200
Border Leicester500,000110,000110,0006,990
Campbell Island <100
Chatham Island <100
Clarence <20
Coopworth7.5 M4.9 M7.3 M29,3916
Corriedale2.7 M2.8 M2.8 M11,358
Diggers Hill <200
Dorset Down15,00051,00051,00010,277
Dorset Horn3-400*516 <1,000
East Friesian1,2001,200452
English Leicester15,00015,00015,000927
Gotland Pelt **300 <600
Hokonui <500
Herbert <100
Karakul<15057 <200
Merino2.5 M3.3 M***2.3 M22,014
Mohaka <500
NZ Halfbred2 M1.8 M900,0001,539
NZ Romney27 M25.5 M25.1 M
Omahaki <100
Perendale4.75 M3.1 M1.9 M
Pitt Island<1,000
Poll Dorset85,00023,00012,00022,935
Poll Merino***1,594
Polled Wiltshire5,0002,000
Raglan <100
Shropshire<500<1,000197 <500
South Dorset5,0005,00058,000343
South Hampshire<10,000****
South Suffolk70,00094,00094,0008,860
Stansborough Gotland5081,000 7
Stewart Island <100
White Headed Marsh<500494
Wiltshire Horn<30099 8 <700
Woodstock <100

The symbol < is used in the above table to mean "fewer than"; M stands for million.

1 Figures from New Zealand Wool Board website on 5.1.2005 – probably taken from 1996 Agricultural Census Survey.
2 Figures from Sheep Breeds of New Zealand by Graham Meadows, Reed Books, Auckland, 1997.   Many (but not all) of the figures are the same as on the New Zealand Sheepbreeders Association website (on 5.1.2005).
3 Figures from Meat & Wool Innovation website on 5.1.2005.   The New Zealand Sheepbreeders Association website (on 5.1.2005) lists similar figures for many of the same breeds, but is not as comprehensive.
4 New Zealand Sheepbreeders Association, Newsletter 7 – registered ewes mated in 2003.
5 Cheviot Sheep Society of New Zealand, personal communication 2004.
6 Number of ewes mated in 2003 from Coopworth Sheep Society of New Zealand website (on 5.1.2005).
7 Flock number given on the Stansborough website on 20.1.2005.   (Although originally registered as Stansborough Gotland, these sheep have subsequently been referred to as "Stansborough Greys.")
8 Registered ewes in New Zealand Flock Book, Volume 100. New Zealand Sheepbreeders Association, Christchurch, 2004.
9 Estimates based on numbers given to the Rare Breeds Conservation Society in 2004-2005.   For feral breeds, the estimate is of the number in domestication.

* Dorset Horn is included with Poll Dorset in the Meat & Wool Innovation figures (note 3 above).
** Stansborough Gotland are not included with Gotland Pelt – see separate listing.
*** Poll Merino included with Merino in Sheep Breeds of New Zealand (note 2 above).
**** The South Hampshire breed was withdrawn from the New Zealand Flock Book in 1992 because of the decline in numbers.

For descriptions of breeds that are not available on the New Zealand Rare Breeds website, try Sheep 101 Info.

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