New Zealand - The world's biggest sheep farm

New Zealand is sometimes called the world’s biggest sheep farm. Only one million people live on New Zealand’s South Island, but it has about 50 million sheep. Every shepherd controls about six sheep dogs. There may be up to thirty dogs on one farm. ‘Eye’ dogs round up loose sheep. Huntaway’ dogs work with large flocks of sheep. New Zealand has been exporting sheep meat — mutton and lamb — since the late nineteenth century. In those days, transporting meat such long distances wasn’t easy. The first ship containing meat for England left New Zealand in 1882. It had a refrigeration machine to keep the meat cold. Unfortunately, sparks from the machine set the ship’s sails on fire. The crew put out the flames. After that, the machine worked perfectly, but it almost froze the captain and his crew to death. In 1973 Britain joined the European Common Market and started buying European products instead of Commonwealth products. Today it is more difficult for New Zealand to sell its sheep and dairy products to Britain.

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