The Finnsheep is a breed of Northern European origin. The first importations of Finn genetics occurred in the mid 1980’s, when the University of New South Wales imported semen from the North American rams. This semen was used to upgrade the Finns, largely from Border Leicester and Merino ewes. Progeny from this breeding program are still available. However, the base Australian flock largely descends from the original importation made by Lamb XL into New Zealand in 1986. The animals were selected from 13 different flocks in Finland and Denmark to ensure the widest genetic sample possible.
After 7 years of intensive breeding during the quarantine period, purebred offspring of these animals were released to the Australian sheep industry in March 1993.
The importation took advantage of more than 20 years of genetic selection for growth made in Finland. It also ensured the stock available for the Australian release were from only the top performers within the very intense genetic evaluation undertaken in NZ from 1986 to 1993.
From 760 Finns in the Lamb XL flock only the top 114 ewes were selected,which included 72 ewes with superior genetics from the 1992 drop. In the male side only the top 14 were brought to Australia.