Persian Sheep in Australia

Persian Sheep in Australia

Persians are a rare breed in Australia with the total Australian flock numbering less than 200 (in early 2014). Indeed they are rare in all countries of the world except Africa. Throughout Africa ‘Persian-type’ sheep are common in some areas. Stud Persian sheep, however, are only found in significant numbers in South Africa.

In 1999 the first black headed Persian embryos were born in South Australia – imported by Genelink Pty Ltd for William Marshall then living at Moonta in South Australia. The sheep were bred at Parilla, South Australia. The flock was split in 2006 when William moved to Kangaroo Island to establish a rare breeds farm. Skilder Persian embryos were imported by Genelink and arrived at Parilla in 2005. This resulted in a diverse group of 14 ewes and 8 rams being born in October, 2005. Genelink is operated by Denis and Bronwin Russell and is now based at Canterbury Park Sheep Farm Bordertown, South Australia. Denis has a particular passion for importing and developing breeds of sheep. He also developed the Meatmaster breed (specifically selected for production in Australia’s arid areas) and has maintained both commercial and stud Dorper sheep flocks.

Five Persians were purchased from Genelink by Colin and Meredith Walker of Coolibah Stud in Pearcedale in 2008. Since then further Persians were purchased each year. In 2013 a significant number of breeding ewes moved from Parilla to Pearcedale. Denis maintains his interest in Persian sheep and holds a small flock of high quality individuals. Currently about 100 breeding females are at Coolibah. Their placid disposition when regularly handled, beautiful colour and low maintenance are making Persian sheep increasingly popular in Australia. For the small property holder looking for an attractive low maintenance sheep that does not require shearing either as a pet or ‘lawn mower’ they are ideal.

Colin Walker and DenisRussell with Stud Sheep ‘Genelink Domino’ at Genelink’s Bordertown sale, 2011


Meredith Walker with the first Persians leaving Parilla for Coolibah


African sheep at home amongst the gumtrees and magpies at Coolibah in Australia