AUSTRALIA may run more sheep, but the Brits have more breeds.
While the tally of recognised sheep breeds in Australia is around 40, the United Kingdom has about 65, and the number is growing as farmers seek to take advantage of rising lamb prices.
Rex Vincent from Witney, Oxfordshire, west of London is torn between his love for the heritage breeds and the need to be profitable.
Although Mr Vincent runs a stud of Oxford Downs and Clun Forests, his commercial flock of 1200 ewes consists of New Zealander composites - the Highlander, based on Romney, Finn and Texel, and Primera, based on Suffolk, Poll Dorset and White Suffolk genetics.
Growth rates and fertility were the reasons he opted for the New Zealander bloodlines.
Like in Australia, British lamb prices have never been better.
A fortnight ago, Mr Vincent sold lambs with a carcass weight of 18.5kg to a processor for 80 or $120. Last year he received 50 for similar lambs.
Mr Vincent said British domestic butchers and supermarkets maintained their preference for a 18-20kg carcass, which is why New Zealand, with its smaller export lambs, remained a strong supplier.
But with the rise in wool prices, Mr Vincent sees a future for Oxford Downs, regarded as one of the heaviest wool cutters among the heritage breeds.
At the recent Oxfordshire show, where Mr Vincent was picking up his share of ribbons, he said the prices for Downs type and crossbred wools had doubled in two years.
This had encouraged farmers to be more careful with their shearings and the need to produce a white fleece, he said.