One of our lunch stops along the journey was at Flat Hills, a little farm with a cafe. After lunch, we got to go see all the animals. This is an excellent opportunity to talk about sheep in New Zealand because they are everywhere, the highest density of sheep per unit area of any country in the world. There are about 10 sheep for every one New Zealander.
What’s funny about the ubiquitous New Zealand sheep is that they are not native to the islands. In fact, only two mammals are native to New Zealand, and both are species of bat. Until the Europeans came, New Zealand was the land of birds. Every other mammal was introduced by Europeans. If you really want to get a Kiwi going on a hot topic, bring up pests. They really hate pests, defined as anything that threatens native species. There are extensive efforts to eradicate pests introduced by Europeans throughout New Zealand.
But sheep do not qualify as pests since they do not threaten native species. They’re also big business. In fact, the agriculture industry in New Zealand is so extensive they produce enough food to feed 67 million people each year. This is pretty impressive for a country of 4.5 million. Not surprisingly, New Zealand is the largest exporter of lambs every year.
Title quote: Sheep pledge of allegiance in Babe. I understand this movie is set in Australia, but I don’t think the sheep will mind.