Australia’s Foundation Finnsheep Flock
Pure Finnsheep or Finnish Landrace Sheep
The First and Finest: Four Finnsheep Importations
Flock Est. 1981
Above: Finns and Finn-Texel ewes – and the odd Finn-Merino.
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Finn ewe with Finn-Texel quintuplets (approx 1 day old – 13kg+ of lambs) – in the paddock next to the race (for shelter).
Our Finnsheep are quite simply the world’s best sheep.
NB: All our sheep are white. Some others people have coloured sheep which is a breach of breed standards and flies in the face of over two centuries of careful professional Australian sheep breeding practice.
Coloured sheep and the like undesirable features are always culls. We do not have any coloured genes in our flock. We have culled heavily for over forty years to eliminate all defects and inadequacies.
All our sheep live outside on pasture alone all year round, give birth to and raise their lambs without assistance there. To do otherwise (as many do) is just to breed sheep which are not fit for purpose. Neither do we feed concentrates.
All our Finnsheep are from both multi-generation sire and dam lines which have been raised at least triplets in the paddock.
We are fourth generation Australian farmers. Our flock is forty years old – in Australian paddock conditions!
Finn Fleece at exactly three months old. Ram lamb Number 2020-067 born 14/08/2020; Photograph 17/11/2020. The Micro Leatherman tool is exactly 6 cm (2 ½” long). Nearly 6” (15 cm) of wool!
One year old Finnsheep ewe with twelve months growth of 30 cm long wool. This ewe bore four lambs at exactly one year old and raised three of them in the paddock by herself.
18 Nov 2020: All our lambs were pre-sold this year pretty much before they were born. We have already taken orders for 2021 drop lambs. If you are thinking you should buy some of our Finns to improve your sheep flock you should contact us now. We may still be able to provide rams, semen or embryos for example in 2020 and lambs in 2021.
NB. As (usual) all lambs/sheep are pre-sold often before birth and clearly ‘sight unseen’. Buyers have to accept that we make every effort to ensure that all our sheep are of the very best genetic quality. It would be impossible to organise that all buyers could turn up to pick up stock at the same time and on the same day and therefore could take ‘picks’ in turn. We also do not want to be responsible for ‘picking’ out stock for individual buyers.
Consequently sheep will be allocated to buyers by ballot. We will place the numbers of all rams/ewes in a container and each buyer will take out of the container the slips of paper equivalent to the quantity of sheep they are buying. The numbers drawn will be the numbers of the sheep they will take away. This is the only fair way we can think of to ensure that everyone gets a fair pick.
July 18 2020: Our ewes have begun lambing. Here are the very first lambs for the season from ewe #4002: Four 3kg+ lambs born up against a netting fence in the paddock this morning, as you can see. Still wet. We are taking orders now. First come, first served NB: This is not our best sheep. She is just the first to lamb this year. Another approx 65 to go. Lambing time is a lot easier now than when there were 1,000+ ewes! Ah, retirement!
We always tag the lambs in both ears as soon as they are born (as you can see) and note down litter size, weights, gender and other relevant comments, eg Nice wide mouth. Good wool at birth. Good ear/face cover, etc. We have forty years of such breeding records. We do not lose track of any information about our sheep. These guys hurried straight under mum looking for a drink.
August 7 2020: Here are the first three of last year’s lambs with their newborn 4 kg each twins. These ewes are exactly one year old – to the day! The first is a longwool type which we continue to work on - and so are the two ewe lambs NB good wool cover on ears/nose.
The next is wise enough to have lambed right under the shelter of one of our ancient blue gums in the torrential rain last night. One lamb is lying down. Good instinctive mothering.
We expect all hogget ewes to raise (at least) twin lambs. If they did not we would cull them.
Here is one of the previous year’s ewes with triplets. Again that is what we expect:
NB: 2020 orders are filling fast. We will be starting on 2021 orders soon!
May 2020: We exported lambs again this year. One buyer would have taken them all but there was a delay because of the coronavirus so many went elsewhere.
We have been exporting the bulk of our stud sheep to various countries
A number of local buyers benefited this year too (at our ‘normal’ farm gate price of A$550 ea – which we need to increase as the sheep are in such short supply) and there were some large semen sales - as usual.
We are down to the base flock at the moment, plus a few special rams we want to see grow out. Sheep will begin lambing again this year in late June so if you need some, try to get in early with an order - and a deposit. We only have a small property now we are ‘retired’ but previously we used to run thousands of sheep.
We will be importing some more Finnsheep genetics this year to be used
in our 2021 breeding programme - along with some stored semen and embryos from
previous importations and other selected stock. Some of these embryos represent
a sixth imprtation! We may also be introducing yet another exciting new sheep
This will be the fifth Finnsheep importation into our flock. All other breeders have just a single importation of Finn genetics from an importation which we have culled most heavily.
All spare sheep are usually sold long before Xmas, I'm afraid. You have to get in early as there is competition - and it will only get worse. Order with a 25% deposit is the best idea if you don't want to miss out. We always have a number of people competing for these pre-orders, so do make contact (by phone at night) now and get in early. First in best dressed.
These are simply the best sheep (of any breed, and definitely the best Finns) available anywhere in the world. They will boost your lambing percentages by approx 1-2% for every increase in Finn genetics of 1%. We suggest you aim for 50%, eg 50% Finn + 50% Merino – or whatever the breed is you want to ‘improve’.
This will also boost
your wool production, increase the value of your wool and make it possible to
shear twice per year. Finns and Finncrosses can also be managed to lamb more
often than once per year (eg 3 times/2 years or even twice per year! Special
care is necessary to achieve this, but it is being done routinely eg by our
You should always ring at night. It is always possible we will still have some eg rams for sale.
Note: I am pretty deaf and usually can’t understand messages left on answering machines. Ring until you get one of us, or send an email, but a phone call is best.
We have a a number of forwarding agents now who handle all our international orders. We have used them several times to successfully export sheep to a number of countries. Make your enquiries to us first and we will forward your business on to them if we can help. Sometimes it is better to take semen/embryos.
Oh such a lovely word! With considerable sadness we sold our main flock of Finn-Texel ewes (over 1,000) which had been weaning 200+% and the main farm, retaining just a small farm (25 acres) and our nucleus flock of pure Finns - so we will still have Finns for sale, but they will need to be off the property well before Xmas each year so: first come, first served.
And now we will have much more time to pursue those other interests: hiking, white water canoeing, hunting, craft etc. See above: The Ultralight Hiker Wowee! The good news for you: You can continue to purchase the best Finnsheep genetics here.
Footrot Cure: This was developed by the late
These are Mike’s instructions: ‘Cull any sheep whose hooves are under-run to the bone etc for animal welfare reasons. The remainder are to be stood in 6” of this mixture for ten minutes. It will penetrate the hooves and continue to kill any footrot micro-organisms for longer than they can persist in the soil. One treatment will eliminate it from your property completely forever – unless you import it again. It can only survive in soil for a little over a week. The treatment chemical will persist in the hooves for more than two weeks.
Per 100 litres of water mix in 8 kg of Zinc Sulphate and 3 kg of Sodium Laurel Sulphate, available here. Place in foot bath. Stand sheep in it for ten minutes each. While Zinc Sulphate alone does not work, this mixture does.
We did this (once) to a mob of sheep c1990 who had ‘benign’ footrot. No foot problems of any sort ever returned. NB The sheep improved in condition astonishingly in the two weeks after the treatment – like feeding them several kg of grain a day would do!
Pregnancy Toxaemia Cure: This is usually a minor problem with Finncross sheep as Finns for some mysterious reason are not very susceptible to it despite the multiple births, however during the drought we had some ewes with it and have worked out a cure! This is really good as it turns it from a 100% fatal illness to something which is about 10% fatal.
Just like everyone else we too have been dosing sheep with the recommended treatments only to see them die anyway but we now realise that if you give at least FOUR TIMES the recommended dose of BOTH the two main treatments they will most likely recover and be up and gone in half an hour. We don't want to be held liable for this but it worked for us and the only other alternative is a dead ewe and lambs.
So that's four times the recommended dose (50 ml) of propylene glycol Orally (ie 200 ml) and four times the dose of Minject 4 in 1 (mainly sodium boroglutamate I think) Sub-cutaneously (so a total of at least 100-200ml injected in multiple sites). It is probably impossible to overdose sub-cutaneously. Sometimes (rarely) daily or twice daily dosing is required. Some sheep will still die but our experience is that 90% will get up and walk away within minutes and then lamb normally!
I have since been told by a buyer that you can inject the 4 in 1 directly into the milk vein (in front of the udder) if the ewe is comatose with miraculous results. I have not needed to do this. I would probably try a smaller quantity intravenously – probably 50 mls.
Sheep cannot metabolise
sugar (glucose) so it is no use at all giving them sugar of any kind orally.
They metabolise the glycol into glucose (sugar) in their blood stream. If you
drink glycol by the same token you will die. Back in the 1920s there was a very
famous poisoning case in the
Vermin-Proof Fencing: We long since grew tired of a variety of vermin eating our pasture or eating our sheep. We are currently completing or new boundary fence around our retirement farm – just in time for lambing. This is the third farm we have done this on, so we know it works. On our last farm we used to have nearly 2,000 lambs a year. In ten years there was only one single lamb we could not account for. One! Foxes took zero! I have written a more detailed description of it on my other page here: Wildlife Proof fencing If you have not yet visited any of the 1400+ posts there it may be time you did! Basically the idea is electrified Ringlock. It maybe costs 10% more to set up when you are building a new fence (and less to maintain!) yet it keeps pretty much everything on the correct side. Creatures learn very quickly from 5000+ kilovolts!
Planting Trees in Sheep Paddocks: We have been doing this for many years and have by now pretty much perfected a system (which costs about $1 per tree!) and no pasture loss or weed problems. Within two years the trees are out the tops (from tube stock – much quicker from large eg willow/poplar cuttings)– and the sheep don’t harm them. Cost less than $2/tree. You can read about it here: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2019/10/16/trees-and-tree-guards/ You can see some more of them here: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2020/05/03/the-creek-1/ For example here is a weeping willow we planted from a cutting just a year ago. (PS: The green tre guard is 5’ high)
Finn ewe ready to deliver quads, like this. These guys are definitely less than a week old:
Scandinavia the Finn is a relative newcomer to
Our finnsheep are reasonably large (ewes usually around 65 kg to 70 kg). Finn animals have a long lean carcase (fat is carried internally) . A proportion of Finn genes within a composite ewe breed will generally decrease fatness in lamb carcases, a desirable trait. They are fast-growing, medium-fine (22-28u) longwool sheep which can be shorn twice yearly. They have high fertility and research proven fecundity of at least 265% and outstanding mothering and milking characteristics. Our average sheep have been raised by their dams as triplets or quads in the paddock without concentrates or supplementary feed!
When we first got some
‘Finnsheep’ they would have heaps of lambs but pretty much none
that were any good. I guess we culled 90% of them several times over for the
last 30 years to get the flock we have today who have 3-4 good lambs (3 kg
each) and enough milk to raise them on just pasture even in the wettest,
windiest, coldest conditions. One of the main reasons the original ones
weren’t much good is that they weren’t actually Finnish Landrace
sheep, and what there were of them had been ‘ruined’ by
hand-raising cull lambs and feeding the mothers on concentrates. It has taken a
lot of expense and a lot of selective breeding to get where we are now, believe
me. Too many sheep breeders don’t realise that the abattoirs is the best
place for most of their sheep instead of breeding on with them. Pretty much
no-one else in
Below some sheep ‘porn’ taken on June 1st 2020:. Healthy contented sheep fed only pasture:
This ewe and one of her daughters (last year’s lambs) to her left have obviously got 3-4 good lambs each inside them. Still at least a month off lambing.
The green things are our
tree planting system. Within two years the trees are out the tops – and
the sheep don’t harm them. Cost less than $2/tree. You can read about it
You can see some more of them here: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2020/05/03/the-creek-1/
We do still have five Finn-Texels just to raise our own meat, but no
A bit of a closer view.
And a closer up view of some ewes. We have tried hard to get hair on the ears and around the eyes.
This is one of or longer wooled ewes. We will be making more of them.
A couple of 2018 ewes (centre) – again 1 June. All these sheep were shorn at Xmas. That is what six months wool looks like on our Finns.
I do like big-bellied sheep. Plenty of room for tucker and lambs. This ewe (8046) is one of last year’s lambs so she is ten months old.
Here’s a couple more
And another one.
Here (1 June) are four quads from an old ewe born early last August. They will lamb this year. Of course four will not grow out as well in their first uyeasr as a single or twin will – bt an unusual thing about Finns is that they are never stunted by early experiences like this. They will still grow out to their full size. We have even had lambs which became separated and appeared to survive without ever having had any milk at all! For weeks they appeared to be dwarfs (compared to the others) but gradually they recovered from the experience and after a year you could not tell the difference.
This ewe (again 1 June) is their sound ten year old mother again full of lambs. We like old sheep which are still productive.
Postscript: We did not expect them to do so well on the fox-ridden hillside where they now have their home, in OUR retirement, an area where (due to the proximity of so many 'conservationists' and nature 'lovers') it is impossible to bait for foxes, but where, in the past I have shot 34 foxes in a single night on 25 acres! Our mature ewes still managed to raise 200%+ though - out of a drop of about 350%. Other sheep in the same conditions are struggling to raise 50% - they are such good mothers. Some old gals just insisted the foxes weren't going to eat any of their lambs and raised their triplets or quads anyway. God alone knows how!
We are currently building a fox-proof boundary fence. Hopefully it will be finished before the end of June so they can lamb this year free of foxes. Here are the details about it: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2018/07/06/wildlife-proof-fencing/ We have built one around two previous farms so we know it works, but it takes so much longer now we are old, and on such steep country.
More: The Finnsheep is an ancient breed,
having been in
When the time comes for all the sheep to disappear into sheds (just as the pigs did, long since) the Finns will be well represented there: producing two crops of lambs per year or three per two years and achieving annual lambing percentages of 600% or more! The increasingly wealthier Chinese and Indians will pay well in the future for such lambs, believe me.
Trials carried out in recent years here and overseas 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 this country, it was expected the wool weights of cross bred would be down by 15% on the wool breed dams. Results so far from OUR sheep have proved that there is often no loss in wool weight, which is more than compensated by being a finer wool of high lustre, yield and value. We have increased the wool weight on our Finns enormously. Finn-Merino crosses made with our genetics generally have more wool than the original Merinos; the wool is longer, has a lower prickle factor, better character, and is able to be shorn twice per year!
Most of these lambs are Finn-Texels, some second-cross Texels, eg second from left. I can see a Finn-Merino on the left and possibly a Finn lamb right/
As part of a composite high fecundity ewe breed, the Finn is the best breed anywhere in the world for obtaining an immediate lift in lambing percentage. The Finn is the only breed available where the fertility genes are stable (and where as many as six genes are involved), and from which major increases in lamb production can be achieved in first cross animals. The Finn is sexually precocious (keep the suckers AWAY from the rams!) and will 'cycle' for several months longer than standard British breeds. The ability to extend the killing season is significant in a number of areas.
During the atrocious weather experienced in Gippsland in Aug 2005 for example, the Finns, knee deep in snow or water, proved to be intelligent mothers seeking out the best possible conditions for their lambs. We had ewes who kept four lambs alive on a terrible day (10th August) day though we had virtually zero shelter for them, whilst some sheep flocks (and even complete herds of dairy cattle) in the district were wiped out entirely! No ewes died! This toughness and mothering ability (in our sheep) is apparent from an early age even as hogget mothers. The ewe's chief concern is with her lambs no matter the number.
Finnsheep are not
normally shedded or lot fed in Finland and they are mostly browsers, gaining
most of their sustenance from the leaves of evergreen trees. Because they are
browsers rather than a grazers, they are ideal for cleaning up rough blocks.
Pure Finns carry their heads erect and can reach very high for food (over 5
ft), even being able to stand upright on their hind legs. Supplementary
Our own experience
during the drought of the last ten years was that no Finns starved - whereas
quite a number of Border
Whereas the 100+ Borders raised less than one lamb each during the worst years, the Finns raised twins or triplets in the same paddock! The only supplements we have ever given the sheep was ad lib access to fair quality hay (when things were desparate) and Olsson's stockblocks in the worst years, so we have not spoiled the animals' rumens with grains and other concentrates. They are very big bellied sheep, able to process huge quantities of poor quality feed. Our clients report that their Finncrosses have inherited this hardiness, but of course to maximise productivity it is more desirable to feed the sheep better than we have sometimes been able to do. Our Borders have long since all been culled.
The Finns' role in
A 25% infusion of Finn genes results in an increased lamb drop of 30% plus. Half-Finn animals drop 50% plus more lambs whose survival and growth rate is 15-25% better than that of traditional sheep. Most Finncrosses will average pretty close to 200% lambing
SOME GOOD REASONS FOR CHANGING TO FINNSHEEP
Fast lamb growth
Long, lean carcasses
Fine, lustrous wool
Good mothering ability
Parasite and Disease resistance
Early sexual maturity
Highly intelligent, friendly and docile
Great doing ability
Clean breech belly and face, short tail
Conformation: Upright head with extended reach
Easy on fences
A BRIEF HISTORY OF FINNISH LANDRACE (FINNSHEEP)
The University of NSW (UNSW) flock
(of which we are the sole owners – though we have now established some
‘daughter’ flocks) is the original Finnsheep importation to
Australia and precedes the ATC (Australian Texel Corporation) importation
(which is all other breeders have) by over ten years. This flock of sheep was
derived by the
I spoke to Prof Judy and his wife
years ago when he was quite elderly: he had been a large-scale commercial sheep
breeder for over thirty years. Sheep had mostly moved indoors in Iowa some
years before, and were ‘factory farmed’ for maximum lamb
production, so that it was quite ‘normal’ for him to produce 600%
lambing (annually) from one ewe. He had hundreds of Finns and Finn crosses
(such as Finn-Suffolks), and mainly used
All three foundation rams were born
and raised triplets or quads. One of Prof Judy’s UNSW rams he described
(twenty years later) as ‘the best Finn ram he had ever seen’. These
Finnish Landrace sheep represented prime stock imported from
The rams (and their progeny) were
kept in quarantine at
Amazingly all the 1990-born sheep were still alive and lambing in 2000 though they had ‘enjoyed’ an awful life. Most still had all their teeth! Most were still alive in 2002! This and the fact that the flock was run at Hay NSW (on country which supports only one sheep per ten acres - where they nonetheless regularly raised triplets) testifies greatly to the hardiness and longevity of this flock, as well as to the perspicacity of the farm manager there. We sold some sheep to a lady in 1998 who cared for them intensively. All sheep were still alive and lambing twenty years later!
From 1983 until 1991 only the three
We have added a dash of ‘Silverstream’ East Friesian (a related breed) to our Finns (from 1996) to see what genetic improvement we could make, principally in milk production, growth, wool bulk, and muscling. In 2002 we also experimented with introducing/augmenting the four-titted gene (already present) from Keri Keri merinos. In 1999 we introduced some other Finn genetics (embryos) from NZ’s LambXL flock. Sheepak genetics, as I said were introduced in 1998. Our flock, therefore represents FOUR different lines of Finnish Landrace - every other breeder has genetics from only a single importation (ATC). We have also returned (via AI) to the original imported genetics and to rams bred up by the UNSW in the early 1900s which we also own the semen from.
LambXL was a NZ ‘quango’
which imported up to 7-8 different sheep breeds from
Swedish Fin (sic) sheep: this is a
breed of fine woolled sheep from
This was confirmed for me when we
were visited in 2009 by David Williams (an expatriate and)
We believe other breeders clearly have a large percentage of this (finewool) or Swedish Fin sheep in their gene pools (probably in excess of 50%). These are sheep we have been largely CULLING for most of twenty years!
Williams Family from Sweden inspecting some of our Finns
The Sheepak importation. Robin
Hilson (NZ’s largest ram breeder) from Hawke’s Bay became
dissatisfied with the quality of many LambXL Finns quite early on (late
1980’s) (for the same reason as we did) and imported his own selection of
REAL Finns from
The ATC importation of Finns: The Australian Texel Corporation was a private firm who brought two breeds of sheep over from New Zealand (derived from the NZ Lamb XL importation). The great bulk of the Finns they released were ‘finewool’ Finns which cut a very light fleece (well under 2kg Often little more than 1 kg).
We chose rather to pursue their longer woolled stock, and particularly sought (and acquired) only stock with a PROVEN record of raising triplets and quads (in the paddock) – which were mostly of this type. In the end, this type of sheep represented about 5% of the ATC offering, and we acquired all of them.
Embryos from ATC’s importation became available in 1994 - when we were the first to purchase several selected embryos. We had 14 ATC Finnsheep born in 1994. We attended all subsequent auctions they held and purchased selected stock, as well as making some private purchases of (‘elite’) stock from them, paying not less than $1,000 per head and as much as $3,000 per head, except at their final clearing sale where some stock sold for less than this.
Two of our best ATC purchases were ewes1990-217 and 1992-105 who were just about the only sheep they had who were able to raise quads at Echuca. We purchased an elite UNSW ram in 1997 (U96002), and purchased the entire flock in 1999. Only 2-3 other rams were ever sold by the UNSW - to Scott McIntyre of the Western District. We have semen stored from these rams also – and have used it and the original imported semen eg in 2002. During the years 1995-2002 we undertook a number of AI and ET programmes (eg 50 ewes ET-ed in 1995 alone!) to improve our Finns (and also purchased Friesian genetics). We have cycled through literally THOUSANDS of Finnsheep to the point we are at now!
The Australian Finnsheep Breeders Association: we remain the only FOUNDATION members of this association – which in its heyday numbered nearly one hundred (once farmer) members founded c1994. We ARE Flock Number 2 (there WAS no Number One!) The association today consists mostly of hobbyists.
We have found the UNSW flock and the Sheepak flock to be superior to the ATC sheep in most ways. We believe that this is because they are pure Finnish Landrace, rather than comprising much of Swedish Fin (sic) genetics - as we are now 99% certain the ATC flock were. (NB The Swedish ‘Fin’ breed were produced by crossing Finnish Landrace with Swedish finewool sheep - the breeding emphasis was on size and fineness and tended to ignore successful profligacy, lamb size, milk production and hardiness. ‘Fin means ‘fine’ in Swedish, so it is easy to see how the import selectors may have got this wrong).
Our clients in colder climes, eg
We have crossed the UNSW flock with selected ATC/LambXL sheep and vice versa since 1995 (using UNSW semen in our first ET programme then) so that by now there are no pure ATC sheep on our property. Our experience has been that less than 10% of ATC sheep met our standards of what a good sheep is, but about 90% of UNSW sheep did. We have selected away from light-framed finewool Finns and Finns who give birth to small offspring and/or who are unable to raise 3-4 lambs of at least 3kg birthweight each in the paddock without assistance.
We will not use a ram which wasn’t reared at least a triplet in the paddock without assistance.
UNSW/Sheepak type Finn ewe with four lambs. Lambs are certainly less than a week old and growing well.
We do not think that it is specially
important to have the largest sheep (which only eat more) but that productive
sheep of good size, muscling and conformation which raise a lot of 40 kg lambs
economically are better. We have wanted Finns which cut 4kg plus of wool and
who have a little fat on their backs to keep them warm. We have selected sheep
with large rumen capacity and who can produce significant quantities of milk.
Our best sheep are raising litters of three plus lambs whose total weight is
100kg plus at 84 days (weaning). Anyone can see that this amounts to 1000
litres of milk in 84 days. Our best lamb was 47 kg at 75 days (This was as an
ET) and his progeny outgrew all other breeds in the MCPT trials at
As a result of our Finns now being superior to either original Finnsheep importation we chose to call them ‘improved Finns’.
(for more news click here)
PREGNANCY TOXAEMIA CURE: This is usually a minor problem with Finncross sheep as Finns for some mysterious reason are not very susceptible to it despite the multiple births however during the drought we have had some ewes with it and have worked out a cure! This is really good as it turns it from a 100% fatal illness to something which is about 10% fatal. Just like everyone else we too have been dosing sheep with the recommended treatments only to see them die anyway but we now realise that if you give at least FOUR TIMES the recommended dose of BOTH the two main treatments they will most likely recover and be up and gone in half an hour. We don't want to be held liable for this but it worked for us and the only other alternative is a dead ewe and lambs. So that's four times the recommended dose of propylene glycol ORALLY (200 ml) and four times the dose of Minject 4 in 1 (mainly sodium boroglutamate I think) SUBCUTANEOUSLY (100-200ml multiple sites). Sometimes daily or twice daily dosing is required. Some sheep will still die but our experience is that 90% will get up and walk away within minutes and then lamb normally!
LAMB TONNES PER HECTARE: Even during the 2006-7 drought we produced over one tonne of lambs (liveweight) per hectare. (Approx 10 lambs per acre @ one lambing per ewe per year). Such is the productivity of Finn crosses on good country. On irrigation and lambing twice per year or three times per two years producers should be able to achieve nearly two tonnes per hectare liveweight or nearly one tonne carcass weight per hectare. At $4.50 per kilogram this works out at $4,500 per hectare per year! Our advice: give Finnsheep a try!
THE DROUGHT: We came through the drought with our ewe flock intact thanks to the doing ability of the sheep, having nearly adequate stored feed (though our 2006 hay/silage season was abysmal), implementing a small irrigation project, planting a summer crop (Millet/Annual Rye) and gaining access to a spare paddock across the road. Of course sales were not as good as usual as few people could buy breeding stock because of the drought, so unfortunately some of our ewe lambs were sold to slaughter at reasonable prices - but it was a pity to lose their potential. The drought 'ended' here on 28th February 2007 as predicted by one of the long-range weather forecasters after pretty much zero rain for months. The sheep have been doing well ever since.
IMAGES: Check out our new Images page for more pix of Finns and Finncrosses than you can poke a Finn at! .
TRIALS: A trial conducted at Kirra
“Maiden Merino/ Finn cross ewes mated to a
SURVEY: A Quote from a Survey of users
producing 1st X lambs using Finn Sires
"we sold approximately 160 Finn/Merino wether lambs at the same time we were marketing the standard 1st cross wethers (BL/M). The Finn cross were almost a month younger and the carcase weights were almost identical to the BL lambs. They were definitely leaner. The Finn cross carcases stood out against the BL sired carcases because they were very smoothly skinned. The muscle pattern and finishing ability of the Finn cross is quite satisfactory. Slightly more length of leg in the carcase but there were no deductions for the Finn cross in comparison with the BL sired first cross lambs."
EXPORTS: We have continued to export genetic
material eg to the Middle east,
LONG WOOLS: We have now successfully developed
long wool Finns with fleece lengths (@ one year old) of up to one foot (30 cm)
at @25 micron or less with thin, soft rolling skins (SRS) and typically able to
raise triplets and quads. These genetics continue to be eagerly sought by the
Merino industry in
Check out this Finn fleece growth at exactly three months of age: Ram lamb Number 2020-067 born 14/08/2020; Photograph 17/11/2020. The Micro Leatherman tool is exactly 6 cm (2 ½” long)
And this lamb Ewe lamb Number 2020-030 born 08/08/2020; Photograph 17/11/2020:
In 2004 clients sold
this type of Finn-Merino lambs' wool @ $5.50-kg off five months' old lambs as
compared with their adult Merino wool at $7-8/kg. These producers observed that
the length of their lambs' wool assured them that they could achieve two
shearings per year as stated above. (Their breeding objective is to achieve two
cuts of 8 kg per year and at least two lambs raised each lambing!).
In a normal year such sheep offer the prospect of $80-100 of wool and $150-200 worth of lambs giving return per ewe to $300 per year or better. On irrigation (or shedded) a well-managed flock might achieve two lambings per calendar year. A small flock of such ewes (1,000) has the prospect of grossing $300,000 per annum from a single lambing and can be run on less than 100 hectares of good land in South-Eastern
RESULTS: The Maternal Central Progeny Test's
results are now in for the three years' joining of a variety of crosses
developed for their fertility (see Technical Bulletin 50 Page 44 NSW Dept of
Primary Industries: Sire progeny means for annual lambing rate - 1st cross
ewes). Unfortunately the research scientists overall did not have the expertise
that the average farmer has to gain the best from the sheep in their care and
overall lambing percentages for all breeds and lamb losses were most
disappointing. Seasonal factors have also been poorer than normal.
The average lambs weaned per ewe joined for the traditional Border
East Friesian Merino crosses achieved 115% lambs weaned per ewe joined from 132% lambs born per ewe joined and 150% litter size per ewe lambing. Lamb losses like this of approximately one-third across all breeds would not normally occur on a profitable farm.
The Finn Merino crosses performed better than this as might be expected with 117% lambs weaned per ewe joined from 161% lambs born per ewe joined and 179% litter size per ewe lambing!
The study does demonstrate that there are significant improvements to be made in prime lamb production from a switch to Finn and East Friesian genetics and particularly to Finn genetics - of at least 30%. Our client experience from practical farmers is that improvements in productivity of 50-70% in lamb production are the norm.
Most of our farmer clients are managing to market larger percentages per ewe joined than the study managed to get on the ground ie normally around 180% lambs to market from Finn-Merino ewes on the mainland and even better in Tasmania!
GOOD FEATURES OF FINNS
(click here to view images of Finnsheep)
NO MULESING: Because the Finn has a bare breech and a short thin tail and a very thin wrinkle free skin, Finncross progeny particularly Finn-Merino crosses do not require mulesing to ensure freedom from flystrike. This is a great step forward for the sheep industry. This characteristic persists in Finn- merino crosses containing quite small percentages of Finn genetics as does the increase in fertility and some other desirable characteristics.
FAT: Our pure Finns are
very lean, in fact leaner than the
FERTILITY: The Finn ewe
is sexually precocious (Finn ewes and rams will successfully mate from
around four months of age!) and has a longer breeding season than traditional breeds - Finn-Merino
hoggets usually produce 100-140% lambing! We have many clients with flocks of
over 500+ adult ewes which have averaged around 200%. One client from
Three lambings per 24
months which is still 300% per annum are easier, and routine in some flocks but
some Finn-crosses such as the Polypay in the
WOOL: The longwool Finns we have developed (with their very thin wrinkle-free skins) are capable of making Finn-Merino crosses with improved wool characteristics and yield capable of twice per year shearing. This is a really big bonus.
RAMS: The pure Finn ram is extremely fertile - able to cover up to 200 ewes - and will mate successfully at a very early age (close to three months!). Six month old rams can join 100 ewes if carefully managed. Giving mature rams 50-100 ewes would be more normal management. You don't want to kill him! These rams will produce first-cross ewes whose lambings average aound 200%. The same equally applies to other composites we produce (eg Finn-Texels) because we only sell rams who were triplets or quads. You can pretty much dial up the fertility you want from your prime lamb dams by using Finn genetics, eg by breeding Finncross rams to your specifications.
GROWTH: Finn cross growth is exceptional: 11 month olds have been weighed at 95 kilos! The progeny of our Finn ram No.96.85 have topped growth at Hamilton Research Centre in 1999 with lambs at 35kg at weaning (better than Border Leicesters, East Friesians, & etc)- and this was in a very ordinary season.(See: MATERNAL CENTRAL PROGENY TEST )
I like to see good udder development – here on a Finn-Merino ewe.
Purebred Finns and
crossbreeds produced with Romneys and Coopworths have shown
WHY CONSIDER AN INFUSION OF FINN GENES?
(click here to view images of Finnsheep and Finn-Crosses)
PRIDE: First and foremost you can continue to feel pride that you are producing at least medium finewool sheep. It is also nice to know that you have the most productive sheep in the world.
MORE LAMBS: The Finncross lamb is leaner and livelier. This means greater ease of lambing and less fox predation, thus lower lamb and ewe losses. (Our Australian research shows that our Finncross lambs have had the best survival rate compared with all other breeds - See: MATERNAL CENTRAL PROGENY TEST ). More importantly having lively lambs which get straight up and follow the dam trains the young ewe to be a better mother. Most importantly more live lambs means more profit!
A flock of sheep which averages 200% can be 1000% more profitable than a flock of sheep which averages 100%! This is because all the biggest farm costs (capital, equipment, etc) have already been paid for. (See: FINNSHEEP NEWSCLIPPINGS )
LAMBS: The value and
demand for Finn-Merino ewes makes this a desirable option. Ewe lambs have been
bringing as much as $100, and it is unlikely the market will be oversupplied
for a decade. Heavyweight Finn-Merino wethers have also sold at over $100. Pelt
prices have usually been higher for Finn-Merinos and may get much higher - pure
Finn pelts are worth over $50 in
THE EWE FOR YOU!
(click here to view images of Finn-Merinos)
These are new-borns. You can probably see they are not quite dry.
Below we see the Finn-Merino cross compared to the traditional first cross:
Plus Merino: 90%
= First Cross Ewe: 125-135%
Plus Merino: 90%
= Finn-Merino: 175% PLUS
In other words 1,000 ewes will produce at very least 400 more lambs. If an average price were $40 (net), this would mean an extra $16,000 plus per year! And we all know that prices lately have been much better than that and that the net on the second lamb is much greater than on the first! This represents an improvement in profitability of 250% plus - see FINNSHEEP NEWSCLIPPINGS . Of course if you have superior fertility Merino genetics (such as Keri Keri @ 140%) an infusion of Finnish Landrace genetics at say 25% (eg by crosing with one of our Finn-Merinos) should lift your Merino lambing by about 30% to around180% plus. On excellent feed such sheep should be able to be shorn twice per year. If you can select for four-titters, you will have unbeatable sheep. The Finn-Friesian-Merino and Finn-Texel-Merino are also shaping up as superior breeds.
Various Finn crosses (eg Finn-Romneys) have cut 5-6 kilos of wool every 9 months. The Finn-Merino's generally under-25 micron wool has been attracting prices comparable to that of similar merinos and some breeders have achieved better prices.
Finn-Merino ram @ six months: 6” plus fleece length!
A WHOLE NEW BALL-GAME!
(click here to view images of Finn-Friesians)
PLEASE NOTE: We no longer have any of these sheep for sale. Having retired to become smallholders, we have had to concentrate almost exclusively on the pure Finns, but you can make your own with our genetics!
Introducing the East
Friesian sheep to Australian farmers. The sheep were in quarantine in New
Zealand for three and one half years having been imported from Scandinavia, and
have undergone compulsory rigorous testing for Scrapie, Johnes disease &
etc. During this time they were crossed with a number of breeds and had their
progress carefully monitored. At the end of that time an auction of surplus
animals was held. Six-month old pure Friesian rams sold to $28,000, and various
Friesian crosses to $3,500! This surely indicates the extent of the interest
across the Tasman at the time, and should be a reasonable guide to the
potential of the breed both as a milking strain and as a maternal breed in
prime lamb production in
The East Friesian is a
large sheep (ewes 85-95 kg unjoined) from the Dutch-German border where it is
the basis of a sheep milking industry as the best may produce 500-600 litres of
milk over a 210-230 day lactation. It is worth noting that most of the world's
milking sheep have about 3/8ths Finn and 1/8th Friesian. In
It has a fecundity of around 150+ and its lambs growth and leanness are spectacular. East-Friesian-Romney crosses in New Zealand grew at an average of 412 g per day for the first twelve days of life, and thereafter averaged 360 g per day to 7 weeks when they averaged 23.3 kg! Friesian cross lambs here have been excelling in growth and leanness in various studies. This was over 100 g per day greater than the traditional Border Leicester-Romney cross over there, a fact which augurs well for crossing them with Merinos here. There is a potential to utilise this growth by producing meat-Friesian cross rams for use as terminal sires, eg 75% Texel+ 25% Friesian are becoming popular in NZ
Our Finn-Friesians grew
at nearly 500g per day for the first month of life and weighed 20-25 kg at 28
days, and 40-45 kg at 75 days! Only our Finns have done bettter than that.Our
Finn ram No.96.85 was 47 kg at 75 days on straight pasture. His progeny outgrew
all others at
They are very lean on
the outside of the carcass (moreso than the
Purebreds shore 4.5-5 kg of 37 micron white wool. They have a thin, bare tail similar to the Finn: in effect they are naturally mulesed . Finns and Friesians can pass this characteristic onto their stable crossbreeds with careful selection, thus eliminating the need for tail docking.
Our Finn-Friesians have the following characteristics: ewes to 90 kg; milk production in excess of 2 litres per day, wool @ 4.5 kg plus and approx 30 micron, super-lean carcass, extremely fast growing, fecundity about 250% with superior lamb survival rate. Nearly all our Finn-Friesians had three lambs or better and most raised them quite satisfactorily in the paddock. Indeed the average triplet at weaning was exactly the same weight as the average twin and above 25 kg!
We believe that a flock of Finn-Friesians would produce as well as an average flock of diary goats. We have many who have raised a total lamb weight of 80kg plus at weaning at 12 weeks on very ordinary pastures (we have been in drought for three years), and this represents a lot of milk! Mind you, our best Finn produced 105 kg of lamb in the same time!
PURE Friesians did not
DO well on pasture (unlike Finns). We believe
WORLD'S BEST PRIME LAMB SHEEP!
(click here to view images of Finn-Texels)
This cross is currently dominating prime lamb
We suggest using
Finn-Texel (50:50 or25:50) over other Finncrosses (eg Finn-Merinos to grade
them up to Finn-Texels. The best mix to aim for is probably about 37.5 Finn:
(for more finnsheep research click here)
The Finn has been the most studied sheep in the world over the last twenty years...
We include here excerpts from some studies done and indicate where these may be found. The unanimous conclusion of this huge body of research is that the Finnsheep is the most productive sheep in the world.
1. Maijala, K.A. Review
of Experiences about the use of Finnsheep in improving fertility. Proc. 2nd
World Congress Sheep and Beef Cattle Breeding ,
2. Hofmeyr, JH, 1982
Implications of Experimental Results of Crossbreeding Sheep in the Republic of
South Africa, Proc. World Congress Sheep & Cattle Breeding Vol 1,
Technical, New Zealand, 28 October- 13 November 1980. Eds Barton RA, &
Smith WC. Dunmore Press, Ltd Palmerston North,
3. A comparison of Dorset and Finnish Landrace crossbred ewes, Cochran KP, Notter DR, &McLaugherty FS, 1984, Journal of Animal Science Vol 59, p329. "Average total income/100 ewes lambing was higher for 1/2 Finns ($8996) than for 1/4 Finns ($8246) and Dorsets ($7144)...If an increase in lamb marketed/ewe joined is a primary goal in improving efficiency, the Finn is an excellent choice for the prolific ewe breed. Finn crossbred ewes have a higher reproductive rate and greater lifetime productivity such that an increase of 40% or more in number of lambs born ...seems to be a reasonable expectation.."
4. Lifetime meat production from six different F1 crossbred ewes, Greef JC, Roux CZ & Wyma GA South African Journal of Animal Science ,1990, Vol 2, p2. "The Finnish Landrace - Merino had the highest productivity owing to their exceptionally higher fecundity, and the higher mean survival rate of their lambs from birth to weaning...than the mean for other groups."
For more finnsheep research see: FINNSHEEP_RESEARCH
Many people are booking our sheep up a year or two in advance on a 25% deposit.
The rule is: get in early and don't be disappointed!
We usually have for sale Finn rams.
We also have Finn ewes.
We also have semen, embryos.
We sell our sheep at normal commercial prices:
RAMS and EWES (pure Finns): $550 (2020) $660 (2021)
All prices include GST.
Clients need not worry
that they will have to sell their farms to buy them. We would rather see them
out there working than attracting the highest prices in the world. These are
simply the best commercial sheep in
In the past we have arranged delivery almost anywhere, but would now prefer you did it yourself. We are retired and have smaller numbers, and want just to do 'retirement' things: Hiking and Canoeing, for example.
Steve & Della Jones
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