There are a lot of sheep in New Zealand. There are in fact an estimated 10 sheep to every Kiwi (New Zealanders, not the bird), a few years back the ratio was more like 20 sheep to every person. So if the current population of New Zealand is 4,432,174,* then that would mean the population of sheep would be… 44,321,740. Yes over 44 million sheep!

 

Some sheep facts from An Encyclopedia of New Zealand 1966

  • New Zealand’s first sheep were set ashore by Captain Cook on 20 May 1773.
  • Rapid sheep population growth in the 1850s and 1860s was mostly attributable to permanent immigration rather than natural increase. In 1864 alone, 13,000 sheep arrived in Canterbury from Australia. Droughts meant that sheep could always be bought cheaply from Australia. Drought continues to affect Australian farmers and sheep numbers.
  • The first shipment of frozen lamb and mutton sailed to London from Port Chalmers aboard the Dunedin in 1882.**
agrodome sheep show
Teacher Traveler flickr

In the Agrodome Sheep Show, 19 champion rams of different breeds wait on a platform before making their entrances. After all 19 rams are in place, a shearing demonstration is given with another sheep. At the end of the show, Border Collies demonstrate their agility by running over the backs of the rams.

The New Zealand Agrodome is a 160-hectare working sheep and cattle farm with 1,200 sheep and 120 beef cattle. In 1999, the Agrodome opened a woollen mill that shows all aspects of New Zealand wool processing. The Agrodome gives international visitors to New Zealand a real, hands-on, live experience of farming and a total interaction with sheep, goats, cattle, deer, and baby lambs.***

Sheep are bred for meat and wool. Some people just have them as pets. Back in the days when my mum was a little girl, she use to have a pet sheep. Its name was Taho. One day she came home from School and noticed Taho missing. My Gran told her that Taho had ran away… So of course mum was crying, her brothers and sisters didn’t care. They were just excited that they were going to have an awesome dinner. My mum was 30 yrs old when she found out she ate Taho, she’s 43 yrs old now and still to this day is very upset about it. I remembered the story after my Gran telling me, but I asked my mum what the sheep’s name was. She didn’t want to tell me. Hehehe.

References:

*http://www.stats.govt.nz/tools_and_services/tools/population_clock.aspx
**http://population.govt.nz/myth-busters/myth-8.aspx
***http://www.sheep101.info/interestingfacts.html

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