The Polwarth was developed in the 1880's, in the
Western District of Victoria, Australia, at a place near Colac,
by the Dennis Family. It was the extreme climate and wet underfoot
for much of the year that persuaded Richard V. Dennis to cross
a Lincoln Ram with Merino Ewes. In 1932 the Polwarth was imported
to New Zealand from Australia for the first time.
The Polwarth is a large framed, robust sheep, similar to
the Merino in appearance but with less of the neck development. It
is a dual purpose sheep, producing lean carcasses and high yielding,
soft handling fleece. The face is open, soft, with a full top
knot of wool, a pink nose and white hooves. This does differ
in Coloured Polwarth. Polwarth Ewes are excellent mothers and
produce high lambing percentages. They have a greater resistance
to fleece rot and fly strike.
The Fleece is 58s-64s (21-26 Micron) Quality, of good length 75-120mm,
dense, even, bright and carried well down on the belly and points.
The Polwarth produce a very dominant genetic wool influence
when they are crossed with other breeds. It has more lustre
than most fine wools and can be spun easily, still in grease.
The Polwarth is noted for it's high wool production and the average
recorded in New Zealand are 5Kgs and better annually. For
the Handcraft Market, Fleeces are highly skirted to leave only
the Top Quality staples, long, clean and even of crimp. The wool
shows the character of strong Merino Style but without wax and
with little or no tip. It is used in the production of fine knitting
wools and apparel. It is also often used to blend with other fibres
like Mohair, Angora and Alpaca. As a Handcraft Wool it can be
used for felting and produces a soft, easily managed felt which
will hold shapes well.