From ... unknown origin... to Pohatu bay, New Zealand
Experts say they cannot rule out the possibility that a rare flock of feral sheep found on Arapawa Island in the Marlborough Sounds came from Spanish galleons landing in the 1500s.
It is one of the wilder theories for the sheep's origins but if substantiated, it would rewrite the history books.
Dutchman Abel Tasman is credited as the first European explorer to discover New Zealand, in 1642.
The common thinking was that the sheep came from merino or merino-derived animals from Australia but this theory has been ruled out by researchers tapping into a worldwide genetic project.
The sheep are unlike any other domestic breed in New Zealand.
AgResearch research associate Emily Young traced the sheep's closest relative to the gulf coast native sheep, found in the southern United States that was introduced by the first Spanish explorers.
The Gulf coast sheep has always been farmed but did almost die out as better breeds came along. It is now a conserved rare breed of considerable interest.
Another sheep breed from the Santa Cruz Island is a wild hardy Island breed that most likely has the same origins as the gulf Coast sheep but has in the wild state developed the same fine fleece and large horns the Arapawa sheep did. They stayed white however rather than reverting black. If they were black you would think you were looking at an Arapawa sheep. There is a close resemblance to both these breeds.
At Pohatu we breed pure bred Arapawas, only getting stock in from known pure stock.
Most foundation ewes came from Muriwai farm, North of Auckland. Bev Trowbridge breeds big horned animals in many colours including spotted and brown.
The ewes that came down were already in lamb. Three produced ewe lambs and one produced Shadow the ram we used as a swinger after we lost Rolly the wrecking ball.
Rolly our beautiful brown rams linage was also from the North Island and could be traced back to Brian Hales flock straight from Arapawa Island.
Although we have just a small flock of 10 ewes and a breeding ram, we do keep some uncut surplus rams every year. These we are happy to lease out for tup as young rams in the Canterbury area.
This year so far we have two brown rams. One we would be willing to sell but the other would be lease only for one tup as we will want to use him ourselves in a year or two.
We also will have a limited number of ewes and ewe lambs for sale.
We are happy to breed rams on request so please feel free to contact Shireen on 03 304 8552 or email her at email@example.com.