Breeding the perfect sheep is not as easy as it looks, says Ross Hyland.

Hyland, one of New Zealand's leading agricultural entrepreneurs, was intrigued by an interview on The Country with Stephen Jack, a South Otago farmer who is attempting to develop such an animal.

"I think it's like beauty - it's going to be in the eye of the beholder," Hyland told The Country's Jamie Mackay.

Read more: Future looks bright for mid-micron wool growers


The perfect sheep is an animal that grows meat, but also has finer wool which can be sold for profit.

Jack's attempt is called Glenflora Hillender, a dual purpose sheep which is half-Dohne, quarter-Finn and quarter-Texel.

Listen to Jamie Mackay's interview with Ross Hyland in the audio below:

Hyland told Mackay he was "fascinated" by the Gelnflora Hillender, as it reminded him of other breeders attempting to "fine-up" crossbred wool.

"You've got all these conflicting goals and focus and I think Stephen's perfect sheep, what he's aiming for - it's really a difficult one to focus on any one particular breed."

The Texel is a heavily muscled breed. Photo / File
The Texel is a heavily muscled breed. Photo / File

Although Hyland is impressed with the Gelnflora Hillender's 25 micron, calling it "a huge leap forward," he thinks Jack still has a way to go in breeding the perfect sheep.

"I think they're really going to struggle to find a fine micron ... it's not the 25 or 30 dollar a kilo stuff that the likes of the fine wool guys [are producing]."

Merino wool. Photo / Sarah Ivey
Merino wool. Photo / Sarah Ivey

Another issue facing those wishing to breed finer wool is maintain the ewe's productivity, said Hyland.

"The challenge will be how to you maintain a high fecundity and at the same time fine-up that bloody fiber that you can get to that 15, 20, 25 dollars a kilo."


Listen to Jamie Mackay's interview with Glenflora Hillender breeder Stephen Jack in the audio below:

One thing Hyland does agree with Jack on is that crossbred wool is "absolutely buggered".

"I think you'd have absolute consensus across the board - I think strong wool is in bloody serious trouble."

However, he still has hope.

"People were saying that about venison three or four years ago and it has sort of bounced back ... maybe crossbred wool's got to get so scarce that it becomes valuable."