What is the history of Coopworth Sheep?The Coopworth breed was developed at Lincoln College, New Zealand, by Professor Ian Coop. The work to develop the breed began in 1958 by mating of stud Border Leicester rams to Romney ewes over 3 years (1958-1960). Then crossbred rams and ewes were interbred. During its development, the Coopworth Sheep was selected severely to emphasise prolificacy and wool production. Once increased prolificacy had been established in the breed, increased selection pressure was placed on fleece weight and the growth of lean meat.
The Coopworth Sheep makes up the second largest flock in New Zealand. It is also bred in Australia, parts of Europe, and the United States. The Coopworth is used for both meat and wool.
What are the characteristics of Coopworth Sheep?
- Coopworth sheep are white, some animals have black spots on the skin.
- The head is relatively big, wide between the ears, and free of wool with the exception of a top knot.
- The ears are short and erect, and some are pigmented.
- The neck is short and wide.
- The body is relatively large with a straight back.
- Legs are usually bare, short, and thick.
- The tail is narrow and long.
- A hairy tail may indicate a coarse wool later in life.
- Wool cover Long, dense wool covers the whole animal and extends to the belly.
- Wool is generally of good handle(soft to touch).
- Coopworth sheep are hornless.
- Rams are sexually mature at 7-8 months.
- Up to 70% of ewe lambs will conceive at about 9 months and lamb at 14 months of age.
- Fertility is high in Coopworth sheep.
- The length of gestation is about 145 days in ewes carrying single lambs and few days shorter in those carrying larger litters.
- Coopworth ewes are superior in ease of lambing and mothering ability.
- Assistance needed at lambing much reduced.
- Coopworth were rated top in behavioural studies comparing mothering instinct at lambing in different breeds in New Zealand.
- The sheep are quiet, easy to handle, and pleasant to work with.
- Weight of Coopworth lambs at birth averaged 4.5 kg for males and 4.1 kg for females.
- At peak lactation ewes nursing single lambs and twins produced 2.24 and 2.85 L of milk per day.
- Fiber diameter of Coopworth animals ranges between 33 and 37 um, an average fleece weighs 5 kg.
What is the weight of mature Coopworth Sheep?
Coopworth Ewes weigh 60-70 kg and Coopworth rams around 80-100 kg.
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