2019 Feature Breed - Polwarth
The Polwarth is Australia’s first breed of sheep and were developed in 1880 by the Dennis family of Tarndwarncoort near Colac. Polwarths were bred in response to the climate where early land holders found the Merino less suited to the higher rainfall of the local area. Polwarths were bred by crossing a Saxon Merino with a Lincoln and then back to a Saxon Merino. After 25 years of careful breeding by the Dennis family a consistent breed was established.
The Polwarth Sheep Breeders Association of Australia was formed in Melbourne in 1919 by the first breeders who were keen to register their sheep as a fixed breed. The sheep were officially named Polwarths after the County of Polwarth in which Tarndwarncoort is located. The Saxon Merino/Lincoln cross produced a robust adaptable dual purpose sheep with a good carcass and quality fleece.
Today, a group of passionate breeders located around Australia continue the Polwarth tradition. Economically, Polwarths provide farmers with a good source of income through both wool and meat sales. Ewes produce a quality prime lamb using Polwarth rams or crossed with a terminal sire. At the same time, Polwarths grow a long, high yielding soft white fleece of 19-23 microns. Polwarth wool has long been regarded in wool craft circles for its high comfort factor. Internationally, Japanese and Italian companies specifically seek to purchase Australian Polwarth wool for integration into bedding products and fine wool suits.
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