Are Arapawa sheep good eating?

Arapawa sheep is from the feral sheep of Arapawa Island in the Marlborough Sounds, New Zealand. The wild sheep’s origin is unknown some claim its from Merino sheep that introduced to the Island in the early nineteenth century.

Other theory states that like other island breeds, they abandoned onto offshore islands like Arapawa island in the Marlborough sounds like a food cache for returning sealers and whalers in the early days of exploration of New Zealand.

They are powerful breed as they survived the harsh conditions on an Island. “male chickentail” Arapawas are those that are white spotted.

Arapawa Sheep Characteristics

Generally, the sheep are in chocolate brown or black in colour—very rare sighting of white colour.

Arapawas are not large sheep, being relatively lean and light-boned.

The Rams are horned, but the ewes are polled. Some of the horns may grow up to one meter (3 feet) length. Usually Horns colour be of coat colour.

They have alert, bright eyes, are set on a long neck and topped with slender ears.

The wool is wonderful and doesn’t grow much—around 11 microns. The wool will shed by itself. Arapawa exhibits some resistance to flystrike.

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arapawa sheep

Long legs are light boned and free of wool. Also, feet exhibit resistance to footrot.

The long legs make them a very active sheep as befits animals which had to survive for more than a century in very steep and hostile terrain.

They are always on high alert and active. 

Arapawas carry their heads relatively low, and it is this tendency coupled with low-set long tails, which gives them a hunched look.

Arapawa meat is fine-grained, sweet, lean, and with a unique ‘gamey’ flavour.

Their fleece will only grow so long before they shed their wool naturally.

Things to know

They will lamb in early winter if allowed to do so, an adaptation to their dry & barren rocky island homes where feed would have been scanty in the summers and harvest time. So sheep are now well-developed and independent when summer shows up, and will even breed promptly in their first year.

They are brilliant, alert and elegant creatures, and can progress toward becoming ‘offbeat’ if they don’t see people frequently.

In any case, they are anything but difficult to habituate to your property and method for overseeing them, and can be promptly hand-restrained with a pail of sheep nuts.

They are additionally peaceful and simple to deal with in the sheep yards, being significantly lighter than white woolly sheep.

They have smart ‘anti-fly’ behaviours and a thick skin, so although they are susceptible to flystrike, they are also pretty good at resisting it. They are being used in breeding experiments with the hope of introducing this characteristic into commercial flocks.

The wool is very light, making it ideal for fabric production. It felts particularly well and spins into a light yarn. It also makes excellent waterproof felts for head and footwear.

Brief characteristics of Arapawa Sheep

Breed NameArapawa Sheep
Other Name
Country/Place of OriginPortugal
Breed Purpose wool
Breed Sizesmall
Weight     Ram(Male)
Good for Stall Fedopen grazing 
Climate ToleranceNative Climates

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