Australia’s Foundation Finnsheep Flock

The First and Finest Finnsheep Flock

Five Finnsheep Importations

Pure Finnsheep or Finnish Landrace Sheep

Flock Est. 1981

Fifteen years earlier than any other.

Just some of our Finn-Texel (mostly), Finn and Finn-Merino ewes

on our Hazelwood Flats property - led by our old maremma, Brandy

We have the World’s Most Productive Sheep – Research proven 265% fertility (lambs weaned per ewe joined). Our Finnsheep are quite simply the world’s best sheep. Crossing with them will boost your lambing percentage  by 50-100%, improve your wool and make it long enough so you can shear twice per year.

(Contact information below - Phone: Australia 0351223328/0427041253 AH)

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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).

NB: All our sheep are pure white. Some others people have coloured sheep which 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 such faults in our flock. We have culled heavily for over forty years to eliminate all defects and inadequacies.

All our sheep live outside on very average pasture alone all year round, lamb and raise their lambs without assistance there with almost no shelter on very wet, windswept hillsides where it is often sub-zero and snows in winter.

We never bottle rear; neither do we feed concentrates. Some people actually shed their sheep during and after lambing. Such people just don’t know what a sharp knife is for! All such practices only create sheep which are unfit for purpose.

Even after forty years we still ‘chop’ some sheep every year. We would not sell anything that we did not think was the best.

We believe instead that your best sheep never dies, but the worst ones need to!

All our Finnsheep are from both multi-generation sire and dam lines which have been raised unassisted at least triplets in paddock conditions with just rough hill feed.

For over fifty years we have never kept a sheep of any breed which wasn’t (at least) a twin and didn’t raise (at least) twins.

We are fifth generation Australian farmers. Our Finn flock is over forty years old. That is fifteen-twenty years older than any other flock!

For decades we have been selling hundreds of pure Finnsheep and closer to a thousand finncross ewes every year.

Unless they sourced them from us, the ‘Finnsheep’ others have are probably not pure Finnish Landrace sheep. Ask us first.

NB: This Finn lamb’s 6” Fleece 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 ˝” long). Nearly 6” (15 cm) of wool! We sold this ram as he was not the best!

One year old Finnsheep ewe (2019-540) with twelve months growth of 12”/30cm long wool. Photograph 17/11/2020. This ewe bore four lambs at exactly one year old and raised three of them in the paddock by herself. One was trapped between a fence and a tree. Within five years the whole flock will be equal to that, and hopefully milking on all four teats. Those are our breeding goals.

 LATEST NEWS:

8th June 2021: All our lambs were pre-sold in 2020 before they were born. This year (2021) they were nearly all pre-sold before they were conceived! We have now taken orders (and deposits) for all (projected) 2021 drop ewe lambs and most ram lambs – over 100. We may have about four ram lambs still available. 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 ewe and ram lambs, semen or embryos in 2021 or put you on a waiting list eg in case others drop out through no fault of their own, or if we have more lambs (particularly ewes) than we estimate. But be quick. The 2022 drop is selling fast – we expect soon to be taking orders for the 2023 drop!.

We have also put up an indicative price for semen/embryos (eg per 50-100) below. We have technicians available who are experienced at exporting to most countries including China, the Middle East, North America and the EU.

NB. As (usual) all lambs/sheep are pre-sold often before birth (or joining even) 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. We cull them otherwise. 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 more or less by ballot. For example we will place the numbers of all rams/ewes in a container and for each buyer we will take out of the container in turn 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, except that we draw again to ‘switch’ them if we draw siblings for the same buyer. This is the only fair way we can think of to ensure that everyone gets a fair ‘choice’.

We are limiting individual purchasers to a ‘package’ of not more than 6 ewes together with at least 4 rams (you can buy fewer ewes or more rams) so that you purchase a viable ‘starter’ flock of our Finnsheep. We always have buyers who want to take the whole drop (especially ewes) which is what we used to go with (largely to the Middle East) because it was ‘less trouble’ in our retirement, but we decided in 2019 to be more patriotic and spread the genetics around a bit more even though the overseas people offer much higher prices – and still want them. Organising it is a bit more difficult with Covid.  2019 was also (nearly) the first year we sold ewes into the Australian market. We had a (perhaps mistaken) belief that we should control the genes we had developed absolutely, but as this would be to the disadvantage of the Australian sheep industry really we are now making them available. When we had a larger farm we just raised lambs from any which did not go overseas until it was time for them to go to the abattoir or they died of old age.

The ‘starter packs’ will have come from ten different ewes and have 3-6 different sires. This ‘package’ has worked well to provide as many different buyers as possible with the opportunity to purchase our genetics and to provide a wide enough basis for beginning a viable self-replacing flock. There are often some rams available separately. There may also be a small number of ‘cast-for-age’ ewes available too from time to time. These would need some TLC but will contain superior genetics. Feel free to enquire.

All sheep will be of our true ‘longwool’ type of Finnsheep (which only we have) though some will be longer than others – as we are constantly improving them. We are adding more wool every year. For example, we just measured one eight month old ewe’s fleece at 295mm! None of our 2020 drop lambs had less than 15 cm + of wool at six months of age. As you can see in the photograph above one young 2020 ram had 15 cm of wool at three months from birth! He was not our best and was sold. The wool is around 23 micron. I will include some testing results soon.

NB: Unless they bought them from us we do not believe anyone else in Australia owns true Finnish Landrace sheep. Read the sub-heading below: A BRIEF HISTORY OF FINNISH LANDRACE (FINNSHEEP) IN AUSTRALASIA. We would advise people not to buy any other types of ‘Finnsheep’ as we have likely culled them (and their faults) from our flock many years ago.

2021 Lambing: Some pre-lambing photos. The ewes are expected to start lambing within days of these snaps. A group of particularly gravid ewes looking very content with life.

You can see that these two are bagging up.

A UNSW/Sheepak type longwool ewe clearly with quads inside

A longwool mother and daughter team.

 A good solid ewe.

Two ancient 12 year olds (going back a bit actually) but both raised quads in the paddock last year (and the year before etc) and look as if they will try to do so again.

30/07/2021 Lambing Day 2: The very first triplets of the year (but there will be many more) from ewe 6059. Three very sound ewe lambs (4.5, 4.0 & 3.5 kg). You can see they really do lamb and raise lambs in the paddock. It is pretty cold and wet here in Gippsland too. Someone will get lucky with 1-2 of these ewe lambs. NB Nice woolly eyes/ears.

31/07 Doing nicely:

BTW: We still have 4 Finn-Texel ewes (for our own ‘table’ use) when once we had around 1,000. Still think they are one of the best crossbred sheep you could own. Always raise twins. Look at this lovely solid milky ewe:

Semen/Embryo Sales:

We have been negotiating about this with our vets (because it is impossible for us to keep up with the demand for live sheep). We can now give you some ideas about pricing for these commodities. Firstly, they recommend we do not take orders unless we have a 50% deposit, the remaining 50% to be paid on collection. This is because they have had so many problems over the years with buyers, particularly international buyers of these commodities, and so have we! They also advise that a minimum order size is quite large (approximately 50 embryos and 100 straws semen – per ram). This is because all the associated costs are so great (but particularly for export) that nothing else is viable. For local buyers it would (usually) be cheaper to buy live sheep from us even though you will have to wait – but maybe a long time.

You should realise that the returns (for us) with genetic material are not very great compared with the trouble we have to go to and the risks involved – particularly with embryo transfer. We had a whole batch of precious ewes (nearly a dozen) spoiled (by another vet) during a (failed) sale to South America some years ago.

The ewes had been emptied of eggs and about half could never lamb again and had to be culled! Fortunately we still owned their mothers and daughters! We have had other ‘deals’ which failed in the past (or we were cheated, sometimes ‘losing’ groups of ewes and rams!) so that we had thought (once) we would never do this again, but these new vets seem to be the genuine article and the payment terms should guarantee us against failure – so we are willing to try again, as so many people are asking. We are currently ‘talking’ with people about a couple of large embryo orders 500+ each! Of course ‘talk’s cheap’!

The cost of semen is likely to be at least $50 per straw (local) and $70 per straw (export) with a minimum order of 100 doses with additional costs if more than one ram s needed. The cost of embryos is to be $500 each (after collection, certified in the bottle) but you will have to add transport, paperwork, customs clearance, insurance (if needed)  & etc costs to that. More often than not these costs add $5,000 (or more – for export, less for domestic) to an order. A minimum order would be 50 which would come from more than one ewe, probably 4-6. It will cost us over $1500 per flush (alone) per ewe – you can see how the costs mount up!

When we have had to import genetic material ourselves as you can see we have had to simply accept the costs if we wanted the material, then we have selectively bred (often employing AI/ET ourselves) and heavily culled these sheep for forty years to make them the very best Finnsheep in the world. This is recognised by breeders even in Finland. Nothing worthwhile comes cheap!

For example, we recently imported a small consignment of (Finn) semen from New Zealand, absolutely the easiest nation to import/export sheep and genetic material to/from for Australia. We had over $4,000 of associated costs on top of the price of the semen – trivial by comparison! And we were able to share the costs (half) with another breeder! This is typical of international orders.

For export the ewes/rams have to be at the collection centre (for quarantine purposes) approximately two months before and have to remain there for one month afterwards. This means that they (ewes) would have to be there (after they have weaned their lambs) approximately from Mid Nov, through Dec & Jan to mid Feb in order that they could still be joined normally for a July-August drop. There is no quarantine period for local sales so that the ‘window of opportunity’ is slightly different. If they had to be flushed twice they would have to be away for a further six weeks. All this costs, and entails risks.

Different countries have different ‘protocols’ so you should check your country’s own protocols before sending them to us together with your orders. Some countries eg China have particular rules about eg Johnes disease. For many years we were in the Johnes Quality Assurance programme (and remain free) but for the last few years we have vaccinated each year’s drop (after we sell off our surplus) against this disease to confer a lifelong immunity should the scourge ever arise in our neighbourhood. This means that for China we could only send embryos from a current year’s unvaccinated ewe lambs, so we would have to know your requirements in spring so we did not vaccinate them after all other sheep had been sold and until embryos had been taken from them. A very narrow ‘window of opportunity’.

Our collection centre is near the NSW/Vic and we are near Churchill, Gippsland 400 km away. We are too old to be driving up and back there lots of times, so we will want to try to co-ordinate orders to only one such (double) trip per year whether it be ewes/rams. If you want to order semen/embryos therefore there will be a considerable lead-time.

You need to place your orders/deposits by the Australian Spring. By the same token, you can not acquire these genetics (or anything like them) from anywhere else in the world, so you should think about an early order. We can export to most countries including the EU, North America and the EU.

Lambing 2020: 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 (so she can guard them from foxes), 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 75 ewes 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 over 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 closest is a longwool type which we continue to work on - and so are the two ewe lambs especially the one on the right. Note: good wool cover on ears/nose.

 

The next is wise enough to have lambed next to a fence and right under the shelter of one of our ancient blue gums in the torrential rain last night. One lamb is lying down. Again good instinctive mothering.

We expect all hogget ewes to raise (at least) twin lambs. If they did not we would cull them. See how the lambs are sheltered by a fold in the ground? On my hiking/hunting blog I advise people to walk around (in winter) in short sleeves if they want to learn where deer will bed as then they will be able to feel where it is warmer.

Here is one of the previous year’s ewes with her triplets. Again that is what we expect, ie from two year olds. Again at least two long-wooled lambs:

This ancient 12 year old ewe (still sound mouthed, but wool ‘going back’) raised four (long wool) lambs in the paddock last year too as she is doing again this year. This old ewe is also a four-teater. We would like to get embryos from her. Perhaps we still can. We have several of her progeny however. I hope for a really good ram from her this year.

NB: We have had a number of ewes who have continued to produce and raise multiple lambs like this until they were over 15 years old. We keep such old girls because we believe that if we can increase the average productive life of sheep there will be enormous financial advantages – many people have a 20% replacement rate. Imagine if you could reduce that to 10% whilst at the same time increasing the annual lamb production from eg 100% to over 200%! We are also keen to ‘fix’ that four-teated gene. Perhaps my daughter will if I don’t.

May 2020:  We exported (2019) 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 (Emirates, China, Uruguay - you name it) for several years. For example a buyer in Abu Dhabi bought 30 ewes and some rams a few years back and returned last year for another similar order of several dozen. He is lambing them twice a year over there in air-conditioned comfort, producing in excess of 600% lambs per ewe per year. The year before they all went to Qatar – and so on.

A number of local buyers benefited this year too (at our ‘normal’ farm gate price of A$550 ea (ie 2020) – which we needed 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 importation! The new Finn genetics are from outstanding stock weaning in excess of 260% in exposed outdoor situations on natural feed on NZ’s North Island. All are from sheep being shorn twice per year.

This will be the fifth Finnsheep importation into our flock. All other breeders have just a single importation which we have culled most heavily, probably having eliminated them almost entirely by now.

All spare sheep are usually sold the previous year, 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’. That 50% Finn will boost your lambing percentages between 50-100% ie most eg Finn-Merinos raise just under 200%.

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 clients in Abu Dhabi).

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.

A very nice 2019 long wool Finn ram

This guy is nearly 50% bigger than our other rams. He was one of the very few Finns we have ever raised as a single. He was one of four, but when I belatedly discovered the very old ewe she had one lamb stuck which had turned black. The next two were practically rotten, yet this one (the last) was still alive. A survivor! However, he showed me that the sheep are genetically bigger than I expect them to be just that they (practically) never grow out to that potential as they are (for us) always raised as triplets or quads by their dams in the paddocks. It has always surprised me that feedback from buyers is that their progeny are usually bigger than the sheep they cross them with. I guess this is why.

International Buyers:

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.

Retirement 2012:

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 Mike Terry District Veterinary Officer Bairnsdale Gippsland and marketed as ‘Footrite’ for a number of years – but no longer available. Mike eradicated all footrot (virulent, benign, foot abscess, scald etc) in East Gippsland with this cure in the early 1990s. When he retired the practice lapsed. The Ag Dept no longer even has the recipe, but this is it (straight from Mike many years ago) and it works.

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 US which killed hundreds of people in just this way – sold as a patent medicine and miracle ‘cure’. For people it is not, but for sheep with pregnancy toxaemia it is.

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)

$50 No Spoil Sheep Hay Feeder: The big round bales are definitely the most economic source of hay but there is much wastage if they are not feeding enthusiastically so this is the way around that problem:

I cut a 2.4 metre (8′) piece of concrete reinforcing mesh (about 6 mm or 1/4″ steel diameter and in 8″ or 20 cm squares) in half with the angle grinder or the bolt cutters – whatever is to hand. They cost around $60 each for a 6 metre or 20′ length so this gives me two feeders. I overlap the squares one or two spaces depending whether feeding out silage (which is smaller in diameter) or hay and simply join them with lots of cable ties.

As soon as it rains they get stuck into it:

I source used pallets for free from behind local stores (asking first of course) to sit the bale on, then I cut down a 6′ diameter (if I can get it) beach umbrella to use as a roof and cable tie the ribs to the outside rim of the weldmesh feeder so that the hay does not spoil from rain if the sheep are not feeding very enthusiastically. Read More: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2021/06/17/50-no-spoil-sheep-hay-feeder/

SRS (Soft Rolling Skin Merinos): This ‘breed’ was created under the aegis of the late Jim Watts and his protégé, the late Paddy Brosnan from specially selected (by Paddy) UNSW Finns from our flock who examined every Finnsheep in Australia before they made the selection choosing only Finns from our flock! Paddy also helped us with our breeding programme and with other (eg wool/skin advice). These two men were true geniuses of the Australian sheep industry and are sadly missed, particularly Paddy who was so young.

We already had some longwool type Finns when Paddy organised the purchase of the sheep on behalf of a consortium of approx 60 breeders who then went on to conduct 1500 ETs and 5000 AIs in their first year of operation (alone) with them. They aimed to eradicate wrinkle and mulesing and to create sheep which could be shorn twice per year – as well (of course) as increasing lambing percentages. All these aims were handsomely achieved. We are proud that the SRS sheep today have this continuing percentage of our Finnsheep in their genetic makeup.

NB. Paddy was good enough to identify (for us) and leave us with the very best sheep (when he could have taken the best for all we knew). He also advised us how to breed the sheep so as to improve them further - which we have done. We looked forward to working with him on this project for many years, but alas, it was not to be. However, all that was nearly twenty years ago now, and we have made considerable progress on our own with improving our sheep still further so that we are convinced that an infusion of our Finn genes into your merinos will improve them even more than the SRS team were able to do.

For example, we have had this sort of feedback from prominent merino breeders: that they were ‘stuck’ with great sheep which they struggled to improve further for 50+ years until they introduced our Finn genes. Then they saw both an increase in the size of their sheep, a dramatic increase in wool length as well as wool quality (finer and that they are able to shear them twice per year) and (at least) a doubling) of lambing survival percentages to 150%+. One breeder described this as the very best decision he has ever made.

Finn-Texel – World’s Best Prime Lamb Sheep:
(click here to view images of Finn-Texels)
 

This cross is currently dominating prime lamb production in Europe. This stable cross was first developed in the Netherlands and there called the New Hollander, (an appropriate name for Australia if there ever was one). It combines the best of the two parent breeds. From the Texel we get excellent muscling, hardiness, good growth, and a dense protective fleece. From the Finn comes fertility, growth, leanness, good mothering, excellent milking ability, hardiness and a softer fleece.

Thousands of these sheep are producing 200% lambing also in New Zealand in rough hill country, and their lambs (produced by mating them back to Texel rams) meet the highest carcass standards. These sheep are as hardy as Perendales and Cheviots but produce more and better lambs. They are great sheep for tough conditions and may be the most efficient and productive prime lamb producers in the world. One New Zealand studmaster is selling 1500 rams per year; his rams alone joining 3%+ of all NZ sheep! (See Sheepak and One Stop Ram Shop in GIPPFINN FINNSHEEP NEWS )

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: 62.5 Texel. This cross's heavy weight lambs produced from a terminal ram (in New Zealand Suffolk-Oxford Down and Dorper cross rams are a rising choices) have to be seen to be believed.

We had 800 of these beauties on our Hazelwood Flats farm (see cover photo above). We have not kept a sheep for forty years which wasn’t at least a twin or did not give birth to at least twins.  Those 800 Finn-Texel ewes used to produce around 220% three-quarter texel lambs each year which we helped grow out on big round bales of silage. We had a contract to supply these prime lambs to local supermarkets/s where we were able to see and examine their carcass characteristics.

The butchers told us they had never seen lambs as good in half a century or more in the trade. One (Alex) was cutting one up as we spoke one day. First he cut up the forequarters then said, ‘Look, this is worth more (dollars per kilogram) than the hind quarters of any other sheep’. Then he cut up the hindquarters and said ‘Nothing I have ever seen is anywhere near as good as this’. He then held out a small (less than half a hand full) of waste. He then showed me a ‘normal’ bucketful of waste off another type of sheep - worth maybe 20 cents a kilogram. ‘Nuff said’? 

 

FINNSHEEP BACKGROUND


Finn ewe ready to deliver quads, like this. These guys are definitely less than a week old:

Originally from Scandinavia the Finn is a relative newcomer to New Zealand and Australia, the first animals from selected flocks becoming available only in the 1980s. There have been four importations: Lamb XL,  Sheepak, Australian Texel Corporation (ATC) and University of New South Wales (UNSW). We are the only breeders with genetics from all of them. We are also the largest Finnish Landrace breeders in Australia, and have been commercial farmers for over forty years. Because of this we have been able to make considerable improvements to our Finnsheep.

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 Australia has these sheep – unless they bought them from us. Be warned!

Below some sheep ‘porn’ taken on June 1st 2020: Healthy contented sheep fed only pasture. The pure Finns have those short tails and clean breeches. There are still a handful of Finn-Texels (for our table). Can you spot them?

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 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/ We do still have five Finn-Texels just to raise our own meat, but no Texel ram. You can probably spot two on the right hand side.

A bit of a closer view. The sheep have a bit over six months of wool. You can’t imagine how many foxes there are in that patch of bush behind us. We once shot 34 foxes on our 25 acres in a single night. One year we poisoned over 500 of them! All ‘Land for Wildlife’ & etc people behind us. Vermin and weed lovers! We also have a (major) eagle problem. A pair nest every year about 200 metres further up the creek behind. They love lamb! I am very reluctant to shoot them though.

And a closer up view of some ewes. We have tried hard to get hair (cover) on the ears and around the eyes to prevent sunburn. Some are still a bit pink Working on it.

This is one of or longer wooled hogget ewes. We will be making more of them. Six months’ wool! It will nearly be touching the ground at shearing! Nice wide mouth.

A couple of 2019 ewes (centre) and one behind them – again 1 June. All the adult sheep were shorn at Xmas but not these lambs. The two with the yellow RF tags (and others) were supposed to go to Mongolia at $1200 a head but they delayed too long!

That is what nine-ten months of 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 (big-bellied ewe that is).

Here (1 June) are four quads from an old ewe born early last August. They are a bit undersize but she has raised four of them in the paddock. They will lamb this year, probably in August and will (likely) produce twins. Of course four will not grow out as well in their first year as a single or twin will – but 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. We are doing some pasture improvement (now 2021) on this awful hill farm – we have bought an old Antonio Carraro tractor – marvellous on steep country! We should be able to run more ewes in the future and grow them out better - with some more subdividing fencing – so much for retirement! With the tractor we will also now begin to be able to offer the sheep ad lib big round bales of pasture hay from feeders this winter as we could on our Hazelwood Flats property. We will have to buy it in – it is far too steep for hay here. It will make such a difference to them.

This ewe (again 1 June) is their sound ten year old mother again full of lambs. She has a strange expression on her face because of the dog which is with me. You can see she is about ready to stamp her right foot. Most ungulates are also right-footed I have noticed. 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 (finished 2020). 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 Finland for over a thousand years, also known by the names of Finnish Landrace or Finn (but not ‘Fin’. Tat is another breed of sheep). It is one of several North European short-tailed Landrace (or native) breeds. Some such breeds are sadly in danger of extinction due to the EU's 'scrapie' policies. Some breeds just don't have the gene for scrapie resistance having been around for far longer than the disease. They may sell still be free of it. Some, such as those of North Ronaldsay need no copper in their diet and can subsist on a diet of wave-driven seaweed alone. There is also the giant Icelandic sheep, the Romanov and the four-horned Jacob's to name a few. Magical sheep. Such wondrous breeds surely have much to contribute yet to sheep husbandry. It will be a dire tragedy if they disappear from the earth.

Here in Australia in any case with us - and because of us, the Finn breed lives on, whatever dangers it may face from faceless bureaucrats elsewhere. Each year we have sold hundreds to every state in the Commonwealth, so that especially away from the absurd habits of breed societies, the Finn breed thrives in many places.

Because Finland is mainly within the Arctic circle it is only above zero Celsius at night for a short time each year. Therefore the Finns have developed a number of 'landraces' which will produce the maximum offspring from the minimum of animals over-wintering. People might remember the impact that the Landrace Pig had on that industry during the sixties where annual productivity was more than doubled by the infusion of its superior genetics. The introduction of Finnish Landrace sheep genetics into the prime lamb industry is having a similar impact, and it is early days yet.

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! One guy lost 3,000 sheep; another over 200 cows! 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.

In Finland, most Finn hoggets are mated and 80-90 percent lamb. In Australia most Finn cross hoggets will be able to be successfully mated, thus increasing productive efficiency. They are also long-lived sheep. Most of our ewes have been  productive dams over 10, and some over 15!

Finnsheep were 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 feed in Finland is mainly cabbage. They are a hardy race of sheep and will survive quite extreme conditions providing there is something to eat.

Our own experience during the drought of the last ten years was that no Finns starved - whereas quite a number of Border Leicesters (for example) in the same paddock did. While the Borders stood in the middle of the paddock starving and waiting for the next non-existent blade of clover to grow, the Finns were down in the bracken and dogwood, even eating the dead leaves from under the gums - and just generally 'doing'. And surprisingly still doing well: raising three lambs and the like whilst the Borders died, and raised none!

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 Australia is in crossbreeding to produce elite lamb, as a milking strain and generally to improve other breeds with an infusion of Finn genetics. Our sheepmilking clients report that their Fincrosses are the only sheep they have which milk right through from early Spring to later Autumn.

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

High fertility

Fast lamb growth

Long, lean carcasses

Fine, lustrous wool

Good mothering ability

Parasite and Disease resistance

Easy lambing

Early sexual maturity

Highly intelligent, friendly and docile

Great doing ability

Long lived

Clean breech belly and face, short tail

Conformation: Upright head with extended reach

Easy on fences

Profitability

Constitution

A BRIEF HISTORY OF FINNISH LANDRACE (FINNSHEEP) IN AUSTRALASIA:

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 University of NSW from semen collected from three rams imported from two flocks in Iowa in 1981. One flock was owned by Prof Jack Judy who was the Professor of Sheepbreeding at the University of Iowa and a foundation member of the American Finnsheep Breeders Association. The other flock was owned by Robert Thurman.

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 Dorsets as terminal sires.

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 Finland by the University of Manitoba, Canada in 1968 and purchased from them by Prof Judy.

The rams (and their progeny) were kept in quarantine at Wardang Island, Adelaide for seven plus years. The UNSW flock was graded up (using AI) from Border Leicester ewes, first at Wardang Island (beginning in 1984) and after 1990 at Hay NSW in a double-fenced quarantine area. When the quarantine period was completed the original rams were slaughtered and declared free of scrapie & etc. Before they were slaughtered semen was collected which still we have in store. This semen has been used in the 2019 breeding season and is still perfectly viable. I understand that the importation of this breed of sheep (and another ‘exotic’  ‘pelt’ breed –Karakuls - imported simultaneously) cost the Australian taxpayer approximately $4 million!

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 Iowa rams were used and the flock attained 87.5-93.5% purity. From 1991 onwards either rams derived from this upgrading were used or AI programmes using Iowa, NZ (Sheepak) and ATC/Lamb XL rams were performed, and the flock continued to be around 87.5%+pure.

Dr Jeff Eppleston Professor of Sheep genetics of the UNSW - and who incidentally, created the White Suffolk sheep breed - was responsible for much of the breeding guidance. He felt that the flock should be kept between 75-87.5% pure with other important characteristics being added from the other 12.5-25%. Principally the other genetic component (at Hay) remained Border Leicester.

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 too. 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. We have now (2021) imported a fifth line of Finn genetics.

LambXL was a NZ ‘quango’ which imported up to 7-8 different sheep breeds from Sweden about 1983. An ‘expert’ from Massey University visited Sweden to make this selection. He ‘chose’ to import as wide a range of Finn genetics as he could find (including coloured stock – which we did not want!). We believe he (inadvertently) included many Swedish Fin (sic) – a separate breed – in his selection, mistaking them for Finnish Landrace.

Swedish Fin (sic) sheep: this is a breed of fine woolled sheep from Sweden (Sweden’s – quite inadequate – ‘answer’ to the Merino) which they upgraded with Finnish Landrace over there to improve their fertility. I had long thought that the finer woolled ATC Finns represented this breed (due to their striking difference from the UNSW, Sheepak and the ATC longwoolled variety).

This was confirmed for me when we were visited in 2009 by David Williams (an expatriate and) Sweden’s largest Finnish Landrace breeder, who also farmed some Swedish ‘Fin’ sheep over there. (For his comparison, we still had a few older part ATC type finewools at the time). He could spot the difference instantly. He confirmed that it would have been an easy mistake to have made if the ‘expert’ from Massey Uni was enquiring after ‘fin/n’ sheep. Of course, what this means is that (other than some of our ‘daughter’ flocks) ours may be the ONLY Finnish Landrace flock in Australia!

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 Finland. Like us, he selected longwool Finns with a proven history of paddock raised triplets and quads and natural hardiness. His farm at Hawkes Bay comprises many thousands of acres of quite rugged, wet windswept hillsides. His Sheepak genetics were introduced to our flock from 1998 on.

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 ewes 1990-217 and 1992-105 who were just about the only sheep they had who were able to raise quads at Echuca/Moulamein. We purchased an elite UNSW ram in 1997 (U96002), and purchased the entire UNSW 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 (and other serious farmers) 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 Tasmania and elsewhere report that the ATC sheep have struggled in their areas while our UNSW sheep have thrived and prospered. Robin Hilson (NZ’s largest ram breeder) of Sheepak at Hawkes Bay in NZ - whom we have shared visits with says the same thing has happened in NZ ie the Sheepak true Finnish Landrace have survived and prospered better than most LambXL varieties.

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. One of our best (measured) lambs was 47 kg at 75 days (This was as an ET) and his progeny outgrew all other breeds in the MCPT trials at Hamilton. Many of our other rams are also excelled in trials eg in fertility, fecundity, wool quality, lamb survival & etc.

As a result of our Finns now being superior to either original Finnsheep importation we chose to call them ‘improved Finns’.

Finn Ewe with Texel quads: Combined weight at 12 weeks (84 days) over 100kg .

(PAST) LATEST NEWS
(for more news click here)

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 South Australia reported:
“Maiden Merino/ Finn cross ewes mated to a Texel sire lambed 180% lambs born mid October, weaned 160% lambs at 14 weeks of age. At weaning each lamb averaged 37.3 kg or each ewe weaned 61.2 kg of lamb”.

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, China and South America where there is increasing interest in our unique genetics. We again sold significant consignments of sheep interstate especially to Western Australia, Tasmania, Queensland and New South Wales. Client feedback indicates that our genetics are having an amazing effect on the nation's sheep flock. Farmers continue to report improvements in size of sheep, conformation, doing ability, six monthly shearing intervals, twinning, better milking and mothering etc.

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 Australia to improve that breed and produce a Finn-Merino hybrid which produces two cuts of 5kg plus per year of fine wool and two good lambs per lambing.

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 ˝” long)

         

And this lamb Ewe lamb Number 2020-030 born 08/08/2020; Photograph 17/11/2020:

In rg 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 Australia, land which could cost itself less than $600,000! These genetics are really on track to return profitability to the sheep industry in Australia.

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 Leicester Merino cross was 103% from lambs born per ewe joined of 123% and 146% litter size per ewe lambing - well down on normal farming practice.

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 Texel on the outside, and have fair eye muscle depth. Fat score is generally around 2 - there is a marked tendency to build up fat deposits internally. Our Finncrosses are as a consequence leaner than traditional crosses (usually 3-4) and more likely to store fat internally. This is a big saving to the works.

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 Tasmania sold 210% Dorset lambs from his Finn-Merinos from 1997 to 2000 compared to 120% from his traditional first-cross ewes and achieved $1's more each for the Finncrosses! This client has also regularly lambed twice in one calendar year, six months apart and raised spectacular averages both times (210% in Spring and 100% plus in Autumn - 300% plus per calendar year! Of course this requires excellent sheep management and pasture.

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 USA are being lambed twice every calendar year and their best ewes are producing 600% per year - again this is a quality derived from the Finn breed. This may be the future for the Australian prime lamb industry too, (See: FINNSHEEP LINKS ).

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 Suffolk growth rates - but with extraordinary leanness - especially their Texel cross lambs have been consistent carcass competition winners. Three quarter Texel lambs from Finn-Texel ewes have won many carcass competition in Victoria for the past six years.  

 

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FINN-CROSSES
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 Scandinavia and they would take hundreds of thousands! It may be that certain Finn cross lambs will bring nearly as much for their pelts as for their carcass. It is desirable to sell Finn cross wethers directly to the works because their reduced back fat can lead buyers to mistake them for stores. (See: FINNSHEEP QUOTES ) Let's face it though: two lambs at whatever price are going to be worth more than one!

 

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FINN-MERINO
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.

In Australia the Finn-Merino is the prime lamb mother of the future. This (typical) one has around 15 kg of newly born lambs. We made a small flock (50-100) of Finn-Merinos (for demonstration purposes). On our Hazelwood Flats farm they consistently produced and raised over 200% very good lambs.

Below we see the Finn-Merino cross compared to the traditional first cross:

Border Leicester:     160-180%
Plus Merino:             90%
= First Cross Ewe:     125-135%

Finn:                        260%
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.

WOOL

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!

 

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FINN-FRIESIAN
A WHOLE NEW BALL-GAME!
(click here to view images of Finn-Friesians)

 

PLEASE NOTE:  We no longer have any of Finncrosses 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 Australia.

BREED CHARACTERISTICS

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 France Finn-Friesian crosses' milk is used to produce the famous Roquefort cheese, and Pecorino in Italy. Australia imports approximately $10 million worth of sheep milk products per year and some industry figures suggest there is an untapped export market of in excess of $50 million.

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 Hamilton in 1999.

They are very lean on the outside of the carcass (moreso than the Texel) with most of the body fat inside. This factor together with their growth rate makes them ideal for producing three types of lamb: beta lambs with a carcass weight of under 10 kg at 2-3 weeks, sucker lambs at 6-10 weeks and heavy weight lambs at over 25 kilos with very little fat.

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 East Friesians are a specialty breed.

 

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FINNSHEEP RESEARCH
(for more finnsheep research click here)

Note: Over the years we made large numbers of two other Finn crosses: Finn-Dorsets (remember Dolly the cloned sheep) and Finn-Perendales. Both these crosses performed outstandingly. I would particularly recommend the Finn-Perendales for rough wet hill farms.

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 , Pretoria, 16-19 April 1984. Eds Hofmeyer, J.H. & Meyer, EH, South African Studbook and Livestock Improvement Association, Bloemfontein. This is a summary of 120 studies on Finnsheep from 18 countries. "Finnsheep and their crosses were compared with approx 40 different breeds and their crosses." 80 studies here from the British Isles and USA for example showed that Finncrosses weaned an average of 167% more lambs per ewe joined than non-Finn sheep and their crosses . They were 141% more fertile (ie ewe lambing per ewe joined) yet their lamb survival was 105% & their weaning weights were 105% of other breeds.

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, New Zealand. "In spite of having the lightest birth weight the Merino-Finn lambs grew comparatively faster than all other breeding groups....Merino-Finn wool was more like Merino than all of the other crossbred wools...The Finn-Merino crosses show favourable heterosis in fertility, early maturity, survival rate, and some fleece characteristics...Merino-Finns had the best crossbred carcasses both at first cross (yield 43.4%) & second cross (yield 57.8%)...Merino-Finns lambed @ 181.4% and Border Leicester-Merinos @137.2%... fertility in the Merino can be effectively increased in a first cross to a level which might be achieved after more than 50 years of selective breeding. "

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

 

FOR SALE

 

BOOKING:
Many people are booking our sheep up a year or two
in advance on a 25% deposit. Semen and embryos 50% deposit.
The rule is: get in early and don't be disappointed!

RAMS FOR SALE
We usually have for sale Finn rams.

EWES FOR SALE
We also have Finn ewes.

ALSO AVAILABLE
We also have semen, embryos – prices available in the note at the top of the page.

PRICES
We sell our sheep at normal commercial prices:

RAMS and EWES (pure Finns): $550 (2020) $660 (2021) $720 (2022)
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 Australia!

DELIVERY
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
Gippfinn Finnsheep Stud
130 Jeeralang West Rd Morwell 3840
Australia         CONTACT US

 

 

Email: 
stevendella@finnsheep.com

Copyright © 2021 [Finnsheep TM]

 

 

 

Telephone: 
(From Australia) 0351223328
(Internationally) 613 51223328
Mobile
(From Australia)   0427041253  
(Internationally) 61427041253

 

 

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