Poll merino sheep

Poll Merino sheep are raised primarily for wool and meat. The breed is from Australia. A subtype of the Australian Merino without horns(polled). Poll Merino wethers and rams are less prone to poll strike than horned Merinos and are easier to handle at shearing and crutching time. 

Poll Merino sheep breed information

The Poll Merino sheep are large-sized with white fleece.

The Poll Merino has no horns.

The adult Poll Merino ram weighs 115 kg (250 lb) and ewe weighs  90 kg (200 lb).

The breed is early maturing and large framed.

The wool is soft and retains the attributes of the Merino.

Easy to handle has there are no horns, easier to shear and crutch.

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Things to know

Poll Merino rams are not susceptible to poll strikes (maggots behind the horns) which results from fighting and which can cause temporary infertility.

Poll Merino breed highly fertile and easy to handle and care for.

In 1934 the late Otway Falkiner formed Poll Boonoke Merino Stud and this is recognized as the first attempt to establish the Poll Merino commercially. See the extract below from Golden Fleeces II by Tim Hewat:

“Then in 1934, Otway Falkiner, who had just turned sixty, embarked upon his greatest contribution to the Australian wool industry: the establishment of the Boonoke Poll Merino flock and stud. He observed that out of the total Boonoke ram drop of nearly nine thousand there were thirteen ‘sports’ which had no horns; from these he selected eight which were strong and exactly true to type except they were polled. The next year he put them over four hundred selected Boonoke ewes. The polled progeny excited him and he saw several advantages in them: they were quicker to mature, they were less susceptible to blowfly strike in the head, they were able to forage further for food because there were freed of 7 or 8 pounds of horn weight and, most important of all, they could not get horns caught in fences or bushes; they were, in a phrase, easy-care sheep. When they were first offered for sale in 1937 they helped push Boonoke ram sales for the year to 9607, second only to the record year of 1925”.

In 1956 the Poll Merino Breeders’ Association of Australia was formed.

Poll Merino sheep characteristics

Breed NamePoll Merino sheep
Other Name 
Country/Place of OriginAustralia
Breed Purposeamericameat and wool
Breed Sizelarge
 115 kg (250 lb)
Ewe(Female)90 kg (200 lb)
Good for Stall Fedopen grazing 
Climate Tolerancelocal conditions

Are Merino sheep polled?

Not all Merino sheep are polled. There are different bloodlines in Merino, one of them is Poll Merino.

There are four types of Merino bloodlines

  1. Fine Wool
  2. Medium Wool
  3. Strong Wool
  4. Poll Merino

1. Fine Wool

The distinctive bloodline of Merino, that is famous worldwide for its finest wool is the Fine wool type bloodline. They produce soft fleece that is bright with high crimp frequency. Mostly found in the North and south of New South Wales, Tasmania and few districts of Victoria.

The wool produced is classified into sub-types –

  • Ultrafine wool with a fiber diameter of 16 to 17.5 micron.
  • Superfine wool with a fiber diameter of 17.6 to 18.5 microns.
  • Fine wool with a fiber diameter of 18.6 to 19.5 microns.
  • Fine-Medium wool with a fiber diameter of 19.6 to 20.5 microns.

2. Medium Wool

The Medium wool bloodline can be found in large numbers. The fiber diameter of 20.6 to 22.5 microns with a staple length of 90 to 115 mm.

The wool is mainly used for commercial purposes for making knitwear and light suiting. The fleece is soft handling and good color.

3. Strong Wool

Strong wool bloodlines are hardy that is suitable for all hot, dry and semi-arid areas of Australia. It doesn’t require much of care, has very heavy fleece.

The fiber diameter of 22.6 microns with a staple length of 100 mm. The wool is used to make jersey wool, suiting fabrics and also for seating in Automobiles.

4. Poll Merino

The Poll Merino has the recessive poll genes, that produce hornless Merino sheep. In Australia, the hornless make lambs are called as “sports“. The Polled bloodline is maintained by selecting and breeding only with polled rams.

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