Scientists from Massey University are collaborating with two Chinese institutions to investigate breeding sheep with the ability to produce lambs all year round.
The partnership with the Peking and Shihezi universities will include a project which the Chinese government is funding to identify gene markers that enable non-seasonal lambing in selected breeds of Chinese sheep.
Massey's deputy head of veterinary animal and biomedical science Hugh Blair says the breed which will be used in the project is known as Hu-Yang.
Once the genes which enable breeding year-round are isolated, he says researchers will look at transporting the genes to a suitable breed which is used commonly in New Zealand.
The ewes cannot simply be transported to New Zealand because they weigh about 30kg and are too small to be profitable.