The Elliottdale sheep was developed at the Elliott Research Station in Tasmania and is a dual purpose sheep although it was originally bred for specialty carpet wool. The rams may be horned or polled and when mature, generally weigh around 70kg. So far, our rams have all been polled. The ewes are always polled and weigh in a little smaller at around 58kg.
The background of the Elliottdale sheep is based on a carpet wool carrying Romney ram. At each shearing, and due to the wool length, there are two per year, the sheep cut around 6.0 - 8.0kg of wool. The wool has a fibre diameter varying from 18 to 120 microns, the mean being about 42 micons. Staple length grows to about 300mm per annum, requiring two shearings per annum giving a long staple length of 120- 150mm. The colour is dull, chalky white and the fleece is harsh to the handle. At least 30% of the fibres are medullated or hollow, the quality giving resistance to compression in the pile, and resistance to abrasion wear and good appearance retention in the carpet.
The breed was developed in the 1960's and early 70's and was commercialised in 1976, when the Australian Carpet Wool Industry was established. The effect of the Elliottdale gene (El) is similar to that of the Drysdale, Tukidale and to a lesser degree, the Carpetmaster (N series genes) in the Romney breed, but is at a different locus on the chromasome. The El gene is semi-dominant, allowing homozygous lambs to be identified at birth, and is not associated with the gene for horns.
The Elliottdale Project was terminated in 1993 and the Research Station became a Dairy Research Facility. Mr Carl Terrey, a research worker and member of the Elliottdale Research team bought several of the sheep and continued to breed them. When the flock was at the Elliott Research Station it was performance recorded, and breeding indices were developed by geneticists for both wool and meat. Although Carl did not have the same resources as the Research Station, he continued to use traditional stud phenotypic selection, with an emphasis on conformation and carcase market suitability, as this is where the economics of the breeding enterprise is based today.
Carl's attention to the genetics of the breed has been fortunate as he has kept the breed alive. Since Carl has dispersed his flock, there are currently only three stud Elliottdale sheep flocks left numbering less than eighty breeding ewes. Two are located in Tasmania and one is with us.
~ Attributes of the Elliottdale Sheep ~
Medium sized sheep and a major talking point as they are very rare
Naturally polled unlike the other Carpet wool breeds
Wool washes out incredibly easily, low lanolin
Dual purpose breed
Great wool for weaving and home wares