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Our sheep are the stars that wool the ZQ world!

ZQ sheep graze on pastures in ‘free range’, extensive farming conditions in the high country hills of New Zealand, the outback of Australia, the green plains of South Africa or the mountainous terrain of South America. By choosing ZQ products, you can be confident that the sheep producing the wool are humanely treated, well fed, live natural and healthy lives, and not subjected to mulesing, which means you’re also getting fibre of the very highest quality and performance.

Every ZQ certified grower adheres to the​ requirements laid out in the ZQ Grower Standard


Healthy sheep naturally produce the best quality fibre 


The ZQ programme ensures healthy animals by adhering to five basic freedoms. Growers supplying ZQ wool are required to provide and care for their livestock in accordance with these freedoms: 

ZQRX  Sheep grazing healthy green pastures 02.JPG




ZQ sheep are farmed in a manner where they can forage as they please. Well fed sheep with good nutrition are better able to cope with natural stress, like extreme weather. ZQ growers manage their farms to ensure their sheep always have access to clean water and adequate nutrition.


ZQ sheep are free range. Free to roam in vast open pastures, with typically more than an acre of space each, though they prefer to roam with their mates. With so much land available and a hands off approach, they’re free to act naturally, and display normal patterns of behaviour.


Over the years, our woollen friends have evolved in environments with extremes of heat and cold, largely on account of their fleece, which means they’re able to survive and thrive in varying conditions. However, to give them a helping hand, ZQ growers go that step further to protect sheep from distress and ensure they have adequate shade and shelter available at all times.



ZQ growers must handle and manage their sheep to avoid any unnecessary stress and pain. That’s why mulesing – a painful on-farm procedure traditionally used to prevent flystrike disease - is NOT permitted on ZQ farms. Farm facilities are also maintained to ensure they don’t pose a risk of injury. Safety first, always.



To minimise stress or discomfort, ZQ growers regularly monitor their flock to prevent disease, illness and to rapidly diagnose animal health issues. A lot of our growers come from sheep farming families, where stockmanship knowledge is developed and passed on over generations of farming.

No Mulesing


Mulesing is a surgical procedure that removes a section of skin from the sheep. It is carried out to reduce the risk of attack by flies (often described as flystrike). Mulesing is not permitted on properties that supply ZQ Natural Fibre. ZQ growers have adopted integrated strategies to manage the risk of flystrike, without mulesing. ZQ Natural Fibre led the world to be the first accredited Merino fibre that guarantees mulesing does not occur. It is still the world’s main source of accredited non-mulesed wool.

Please click here for our Mulesing policy.

No live international transport


The ZQ programme also includes livestock transportation requirements. ZQ growers globally have set the highest standard by prohibiting the live bulk international export of sheep for slaughter or breeding. 

Please click here for our Live Export position.

Continued improvement


ZQ continues to invest in projects that focus on nutrition and feed management, animal health, disease prevention, parasite management, sustainability, and biodiversity. This research and development support ZQ growers, providing them with the tools they need to ensure the welfare of their ZQ sheep and maintain a healthy environment.


The Perfect Sheep


Distinct capacity building projects, such as research into production science, are key to improving animal welfare outcomes. At The New Zealand Merino Company, we understand that every property is unique and that there is no 'one-size-fits-all' solution. We want to help Growers find the 'perfect sheep' and production system for their farming enterprise.


The Perfect Sheep Website is a library of the work that NZM's production science team undertakes, with a focus on four key principles:

  • Market-led production: Focusing on what your production system can produce best, and producing it to your target market's specifications.

  • Breed well: Selecting genetics that meet your breeding objective and suit your environment.

  • Feed well: Developing year-round forage and monitoring systems to unlock the genetic potential of your sheep.

  • Keep them well: Optimising animal health and welfare through best-practice management.












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