New Zealanders are so weary of the old sheep jokes that an official government website addresses the sheep to human ratio statistics…in detail! They call it “mythbusting;” we deem it “sheepgate.”
The bottom line is that as of June 30, 2011, our furry little friends still vastly outnumber New Zealanders, but the ratio is lower than lore would have us believe. For each human Kiwi, there are seven sheep. Take that Little Bo Peep.
To get a visual of what this looks like, check out our short video on “Our Farmers.”
Here’s our question: what about in the New Zealand spring (a.k.a right now)?!?
It’s lambing season in New Zealand, which is bound to throw the ratio into a tailspin – at least for a few months. Since ewes are known to most frequently bear twins, we speculate the sheep to human ratio is currently skyrocketing.
Other than the involuntary melting of our hearts from watching fuzzy lambs bounding in the bright green field, a strong lambing season is good for our ranching partners and good for all of us down the line. The quality of wool begins with a healthy flock and a strong stewardship over the sheep’s lifetime.
Despite the admittedly horrible pun in the headline, the 2012 season seems to be off to a promising start. The New Zealand autumn (a.k.a. spring in the Northern Hemisphere) was favorably mild for the good health of the ewes. According to Roger Kerr, a business reporter for Newstalk ZB in New Zealand, “A number of…prominent Southland farmers are reporting [ultrasound pregnancy] scanning percentages are up on last year, so around the country it appears the sheep went into the winter in pretty good condition.”
Ultrasound scanning of ewes is a common practice among ranchers in order to gather a more accurate assessment of what to expect come lambing season. According to a report from the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs in Ontario, Canada, “Ultrasound pregnancy scanning can be used as a cost-effective management tool to improve breeding program management, feeding management, and newborn survival.”
So with that, our shepherds are off to the races. Best of luck for a successful lambing season and at least a minimum amount of sleep! After the lambs yelp their first “bahhh,” they’ll be busy putting on their fleece for their first shearing next year, and we’ll be busy designing new gear and appreciating the renewable gift of wool.