Origin & History
The Finnsheep is an ancient breed, native to Finland, also known by the names of Finnish Landrace or Finn. It is one of several North European short-tailed Landrace breeds.
At 260 percent, the NZ Finn lamb drop is as high as any breed in the world. In Finland there has been a rigorous selection programme for live weight over the past twenty years. This has resulted in a substantial increase in the body size in the Finnish Landrace breed as imported by LambXL and Sheepac to New Zealand. The average weight of the ewes in quarantine was 63 kilograms.
NZ Finn animals have a long lean carcase. A proportion of Finn genes within a composite ewe breed will generally decrease fatness in lamb carcases, a desirable trait.
Trials carried out in New Zealand in recent years have shown Finn cross ewes to be clearly more productive than ewes in traditional flocks. This is due to dramatically higher lamb production.
When imported into the country it was expected the wool weights of cross bred would be down by 15% on the wool breed dams. Results so far have proved that there is little loss in wool weight which is more than compensated by being a finer wool of high lustre, yield and value.
NZ Finn wool is of medium fineness with high lustre. Cross bred wool sold in Canterbury achieved premium levels with a price of $5-60 a kilo for 25 micron, 76.1% yield lamb wool. This at a time when wool prices were low. It suggests that the wool has the potential to be a sought after product by overseas buyers, mainly for the Asian market.
One of the most interesting crosses to date has been the Drysdale/NZ Finn. This has resulted in a fast growing, well modulated, high lustre, fine fleece. A lamb shorn at 12 weeks produced a 2.5 kilo without the expected hairiness of the Drysdale. The fleece had a micron of 29.9 and the yield was 75.9%.
NZ Finn have been crossed with the Merino resulting in a heavier fleece, higher yield with very little loss in micron.
Lamb XL’s breeding programme put major emphasis on fleece weight in order to provide sires which pass on the dramatic increases in lamb drop while minimising wool production loss.
As part of a composite high fecundity ewe breed, the NZ Finn is the best breed anywhere in the world for obtaining an immediate lift in lambing percentage. [Ref Sheepac, LambXL, Prof Robertson Dept of Agriculture USA]
NZ Finn is the only breed available where the fertility genes are stable and major increases in lamb production can be achieved in first cross animals. The fecundity of NZ Finns is a genetic trait maintained in most European short tailed sheep, which responds to feed input. [Ref MAFTech]
The NZ Finn is sexually precocious and will ‘cycle’ for several months longer than our standard British breeds. The ability to extend the killing season will be significant in a number of areas in New Zealand.
In Finland, most Finn hoggets are mated and 80-90 percent lamb. In New Zealand most NZ Finn cross hoggets will be able to be successfully mated, thus increasing productive efficiency.
Experience in Southland has shown that the NZ Finn and 1st cross animals to be aggressive feeders, and have maintained themselves well in mixed mobs of traditional breeds of sheep.
During the atrocious weather experienced in Canterbury in 1992, the NZ Finn, knee deep in snow or water, proved to be intelligent mothers seeking out the best possible conditions for their lambs.
This mothering ability is apparent from an early age even as hoggets. The ewe’s chief concern is with her lambs no matter the number.
At the Southland Wool Breeds lamb competition held at the Makarewa Freezing Works, a line of NZ Finn/Border Leicester X lambs were chosen from a small flock of 45 ram lambs. Although the stock agent doubted that the lambs were prime, the three lambs surpassed the target weight of 17 kilos, each weighing in at 19.5 kgs on the hook.
The NZ Finn is a browser rather than a grazer and is ideal for cleaning up rough blocks.
11 Good Reasons For Changing to New Zealand Finnsheep
- High fertility
- Fast lamb growth
- Long, lean carcasses
- Fine, lustrous wool
- Good mothering ability
- Facial eczema resistance
- Easy lambing
- Early sexual maturity
- Highly intelligent
- White face
- Pink nose
- Very little wool on poll
- Fleece white and lustrous
- Long-bodied and long-legged
- No wool on legs
- White hooves
Active. Highly fertile. Very good mothering ability. Highly resistant to facial eczema. Used in cross-breeding programmes with traditional sheep breeds to produce half-bred sheep with increased flock fertility and resistance to facial eczema. Being fine-woolled it may eventually become recognised as a useful dual-purpose breed.
Location: The breed is found in a wide range of climatic conditions throughout Bodyweight New Zealand.
Ewes: 50-70 kg (110-154 lb)
Rams: 66-93 kg (145-205 lb)
Very white, lustrous wool. Fleece has good colour and bulk.
Fibre diameter: About 27 microns
Staple length: 75-125 mm (3-5 inches)
Fleece weight: Range 2.5-4 kg (5.5- eczema.. 8.8 lb)
Uses: Pure Finn wool is used for interior textiles.
Carcase lean and non-fatty