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Southdown Sheep Come to the United States


The Southdown breed of sheep originated in the South Down (hills) of Sussex County, England. The English farms kept these sheep for their flavorful meat and fine fleece. In the early 1800s the Southdowns were imported to the United States.   With the arrival of refrigeration larger meat carcasses were desired and the smaller sheep were crossed with bigger sheep to produce a larger animal. They are the Southdowns of modern day referred to as the American Southdown.

Around 1990 small flocks of the original smaller Southdowns were rediscovered and labeled Olde English Babydoll Miniature Sheep to differentiate them from the larger modern breed. Currently people raise these docile miniature sheep as pets because of their overall sweetness, for their wool, and as grass trimmers, perfect for today’s smaller acreage farms. They are one of the oldest known down sheep. Today’s breeders believe breed preservation is of utmost importance and strive to keep this wonderful breed of sheep from forever being lost.   Their calm nature makes this breed easy to work with and a good choice for the first time shepherd or 4-H projects

Babydolls are born either black or white. Black lambs will fade with age, turning from chocolate brown to a lighter, mocha color over the years. White lambs are born with either a cinnamon color or pale gray color around their noses and lower legs. Their tails are docked shortly after birth. Adult miniature Southdowns are 24 inches or less at the shoulder [without wool]. They are easy to handle and are not aggressive. Flocks can be maintained in small pastures and do not require high fences. Both ewes and rams are polled (have no horns) and are non-aggressive by nature.

Ewes are good mothers, often having twins and occasionally triplets. Care for miniature Southdowns is similar to that of other sheep including annual shearing, vaccinating, foot trimming, and worming. Their wool is short stapled and fine with a 19-20 micron count. 


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