Sheep played a major role in the development of human civilization. Together with goats and pigs were domesticated in the Neolithic period 10,000 years years ago in the Middle East (present-day territory of Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Israel).
merino history is the history of various genetic crosses. Sheep from Asia Minor, found their way through the Phoenicians to North Africa in about the twelfth century were in Spain with the Moors. In the next two centuries These sheep have been crossed with sheep from England.
From the twelfth century Spain was known for its high quality wool, allowing it to monopolize the then production knitting for the period from the twelfth to the sixteenth century. The main source of income of Castile in the late Middle Ages was the wool trade with Flanders and England.
the eighteenth century to the export of merino from Spain in this country was punished by death. However, since this century, a small amount of merino sheep were exported to other European countries. And so in 1723, these animals were in Sweden, in the second half of the century Saxony, Prussia and Hungary. In 1786, Louis XVI received 366 sheep bred on a farm king at Rambouillet. After crossing the English longhaired sheep they have become a new odmiandziewierstwa podstwą of voting helped the French sheep.
The collapse of the English knitting contributed to the Napoleonic wars, and since 1810 the industry based on the pile of merino moved to Germany, USA and Australia.
South Africa was the first country outside Europe, which were grown Merino. The history of these sheep on the African continent began in 1789, the year of the outbreak of the French Revolution, when the Dutch government offered two rams and four sheep Colonel Jacob Gordon then serving in the army in South Africa. Previously these sheep, derived from the famous Escorial Merino flock, were present English king (who had the exclusive right to export merino) for the Dutch crown. However, weather conditions in Holland were not conducive to the development of animal and why they found their way to Colonel Gordon, who started rearing them on a farm in Groenkloof, 55 km from Cape Town.
In South Africa are grown now 25 million sheep, of which account for almost half Merino (14.5 million). The ability to produce high-quality Merino wool is unique. One sheep is able to "produce" the quantity of wool corresponding to 10-15 per cent until the animal's weight. Merino sheep are present in almost all regions of the country, especially in the Northern Cape, Western Cape, but also in Kwazulu Natal.
However, the greatest producer of merino wool is out of Australia, where the traditions of sheep breeding and crossbreeding of different species from the mid-eighteenth century. In 2005 Australia produced nearly 25% of world production, China has been further (18%), New Zealand (11%) and Argentina (3%).