When Sligo man Sean Gilligan decided last year that he needed to travel to gain some experience in the sheep industry, he could not have picked a better spot than New Zealand.
The Land of the Long White Cloud has long been known as the home of sheep farming; for many decades, it has held the record of having the highest density of sheep per unit area in the world.
“I was working in landscaping before this but was thinking of getting into sheep at home, so needed some experience. I had never worked with sheep before last September,” the 27-year-old says.
According to Independent.ie,
Sean’s family farm a beef herd near Lissadell House in North Sligo.
Leaving his native Strandhill for pastures new with his girlfriend Louise Cawley, Sean is now helping run a 5,000-ewe farm in the heart of sheep country in the picturesque but remote area of Lumsden in the Northern Southland district of South Island.
The nearest shops are 90 minutes’ drive.
Sean had no job when he arrived but he quickly made good contacts through the backpackerboard.co.nz website and did a stint with George and Sarah Tatham at their sheep and beef breeding and finishing farm, Matariki Terraces.
He also spent six weeks at a 3,500-ewe farm and another six weeks with Bill and Shirley Wright on their mixed farm in South Canterbury.
"This job then came up in June of this year and I applied for it. The owner Angus Cowie is currently off due to an injury," he says.
With lambing set to start in early September, Sean is preparing for a busy few weeks ahead, but he is looking forward to the challenge.
"All our ewes lamb are out. We have approximately five ewes to an acre, and 40 or 50 to a paddock.
"They are all Perendale, which is the result of crossing a Cheviot with a Romney.
"They are known to be good for both their meat and their wool," he says. Having spent last Christmas in the sun, Sean is unsure of his plans now that Louise has returned home to continue her studies.
"This job is good until November and I will be applying to extend my visa in the next few weeks so after that I don't know," he concludes.