Polwarth sheep are originally Australian and they are named after Polwarth - a region near Colac in Victoria. Polwarth sheep are the outcome of a Lincoln-Merino cross, bred back to Merino rams. The cross is 75 percent Merino, and 25 percent Lincoln. They were developed in the 1880's with the purpose of creating a dual-purpose breed. Their wool is considered to be fine and they also produce a quality, lean carcase.
Mature ewes typically weigh between 50-60 kilograms, while mature rams achieve weights between 66-80 kilograms. Their fleece measures between 23-25 microns and it is considered to be white, soft and high yielding. Many commercial flocks achieve cutting weights of 7 kilograms per sheep. Their fleece is also resistant to fleece rot. Both polled and horned strains exist. They have large frames, make excellent prime mothers and are also recognised for their climatic adaptability
The carcase of a Polwarth sheep is known to be particularly lean. It is well-suited to lamb and mutton markets where consumers desire minimal amounts of fat. The breed is also known for high lambing rates, rapid growth and early maturity, mothering attributes and productivity.
Polwarth sheep are particularly suited to high rainfall regions and quality pastures. They are predominantly distributed throughout southern Australia. The Australian sheep industry has been successful with the exportation of Polwarth sheep and they have been particularly well-received in South America.
The Polwarth Sheepbreeders' Association of Australia was established in 1918. In 1948 they closed the studbook, which has guaranteed that the breed continues to maintain its genetic purity.