Australia & New Zealand

Merino

The noblest
of wool sheep

The southern hemisphere countries of New Zealand and Australia offer exceptional conditions for the Merino. In the face of fierce worldwide competition, some breeders took a gamble on producing wools of unrivalled fineness.

The Merino sheep requires constant care and particular kinds of pasture, far removed from any form of pollution, and these are found primarily in southern Australia, Tasmania and New Zealand. Merinos involve more work than any other breed, requiring unswerving passion and devotion to the task from the breeder. Their toil is not always appropriately valued by the market, but as lovers of fine wool, they reap their reward at each shearing, when the fleeces reach the desired fineness.

Purebred Merino rams need a particular climate and pastures. Until the shearing period, flocks are free to roam and the breeder may face several hours’ walk to herd them.

Australia is the world’s leading producer of Merino wool, with the wool produced in Tasmania considered to be one of the country’s very best. Originally from Saxony, the Saxon Merino sheep is the aristocracy of wool sheep, so to speak. It is a high-maintenance animal and only very few breeders work with a flock of purebred Saxons.

The Taylor family

In Winton, the Taylors are enthusiastic about their flock of two thousand merinos which they farm on more than three thousand hectares of gently rolling valleys.

A New Zealand Merino ram

A proud young Merino ram on the hills above Dick Bell’s farm on the outskirts of Blenheim. As a timid and gregarious animal by nature, it is unusual to be able to get close to a lone Merino.

Focus on Merino fibres

The quality of the wool is judged on the basis of the colour – which should be as pale as possible – its elasticity in proportion to the crimp density, and its fineness, as determined by the diameter in microns or micrometres.

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