Wiltipoll sheep are distinguished by their ability to produce quality, lean and flavoursome meat without the costs of wool. The breed was established in Australia using Wiltshire Horn stock. The objective was to develop a polled strain of the easy-care Wiltshire Horn.
The poll gene was initially incorporated by crossing a pure-bred Wiltshire Horn ram with a polled-breed ewe. The first cross was subsequently back-crossed for four generations, ultimately achieving 96.87 percent Wiltshire Horn blood. Now, the Australian Wiltipoll Association stipulates that registered sheep must posses no less than 96.87 percent Wiltshire Horn blood, while other rigid guidelines have also been implemented.
Wiltipoll generally exhibit similar traits to Wiltshire Horns. However, they have no horns! They have large frames, and usually weigh between 65 and 120 kilograms (rams are obviously at the heavier end). Wiltipoll coats bear a short white fleece that sheds annually. They are bred primarily for the production of prime lamb, particularly in pastoral regions where they can perform well on marginal feed.
In meat breeds, wool shedding can translate to economic benefits for a number of reasons. There are no costs attributed to shearing, crutching, dipping, flystrike or mulesing. It also means that large amounts of nutrition are directed towards the production of meat in the animal. Also, it renders the sheep ideal in organic lamb operations - which is currently a popular consumer demand.
As prime lamb sires, Wiltipoll sheep produce lean, adaptable progeny that offer meat that fulfils the requirements of the Australian domestic and export trade. They produce a carcase that offers high dressing percentages of lean ,well muscled and tasty meat. Wiltipolls can also perform well in different management systems, without gaining excess fat. Rams remain productive throughout the year.
Wiltipoll ewes are recognised for their easy lambing, milkiness, and propensity for multiple births - usually achieving rates between 140 percent and 180 percent. Some ewes are able to procreate as early as 6 months old. Although they are relatively adaptable, they perform particularly well in the wetter regions of Victoria.
The Australian Wiltipoll Association Inc. was formed in 1996. The first flock book was published in 1997. Now, there are more than 140 studs throughout the country.