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Babydoll Southdown Sheep

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Other common names: Olde English Babydoll Southdown Sheep; Miniature Southdown

The basics:
The Babydoll Southdown Sheep is a smaller version of the Southdown Sheep. Southdown Sheep were developed in Sussex, England during the late 1700's and early 1800's. Southdowns were among the animals brought to North America as early as 1640. Later, documented importations where made into the United States from 1824 to 1829 from the English flock of John Ellman.

Although somewhat controversial, today the Southdown Sheep breed has been split into two sub breeds - Southdown and Babydoll Southdown. Babydoll Southdown breeders claim that the Southdown Sheep raised today by commercial growers is larger than the "traditional" Southdown, and that Babydoll Southdown Sheep are closer to the old, historical British Southdown.

According to the Olde English Babydoll Southdown Sheep Registry, "In 1986, Mr. Robert Mock began a search for the sheep with the original blood lines that conformed to the original Southdown of the 1700s. Finding them proved to be difficult. At one point they were believed to be extinct. After a four-year search, two small flocks totaling 26 sheep were located; however, this group would not be able to provide a sustainable gene pool. After further extensive searching, a total of 350 of these miniature sheep were located. Many of them still carried their original Southdown registration papers."

"To distinguish these small sheep from the larger modern-era Southdown, Mr. Mock named them “Olde English Babydoll Southdowns." To keep this line pure, a registry was formed. Only adults two years and older were accepted so that they could be judged against the original conformation standards as verified by a veterinarian. Each sheep's registration application was passed before a board of three members of the Breed Association. After this initial review and acceptance period, the "Foundation Flock" registry was closed in 1991."

Appearance / health:
Babydoll Southdown Sheep are small, with the breed standard stating that a height of 18"- 24"is ideal.
One of the most common ailments among sheep is a viral skin disease called soremouth or “orf.” Ringworm or “club lamb fungus” is a rash also common among sheep. And much like “mad cow disease,” sheep can have a similar neurological ailment called “scrapie.” Sheep health issues should be addressed by a qualified veterinarian. Good health is promoted by sanitary habitat conditions and proper nutrition.

Behavior / temperament:
Babydoll Southdown sheep are known for easy handling and docile dispositions. They are nurturing mothers. Their small size and easy keeping metabolism requires less acreage per animal compared to other breeds.

Sheep are herd animals that rely on staying together as a flock to protect themselves from predators. They are highly sensitive to predators because they are basically “prey animals.” They sense the presence of threat from several hundred feet away (they are able to twist and turn their ears to detect potential danger) and instinctively flee instead of fight or attack. While fleeing, sheep run in a winding pattern to be able to see what is behind them.

As domesticated animals, sheep make good pets because they are docile and easily connect with humans, especially lambs that are bottle-fed. Miniature breeds and sheep that have hair instead of fur make ideal pets. Raising pet sheep is a popular project in the 4-H youth organization.

Housing / diet:
Sheep are grazing animals and do well living their entire lives outdoors. They get sufficient exercise and fresh air out in the field. They do need shelter from bad storms and unusually hot days. Many sheep keepers install field structures to provide shade, for example, hutches, domes, carports, and makeshift sheds. A common shade structure is a hoop house, like an open hangar or a greenhouse, which has a metal arched frame covered with tarp or other heavy-duty fabric.

Some sheep owners keep their flock in a barn or similar enclosure to protect them from predators. These enclosures must have very good ventilation because moisture and poor air conditions lead to the sheep’s poor health.

For warmth and comfort, bedding material should be provided. The best bedding is absorbent, clean, and dry. Some options are straw, wood shaving, sawdust, corncobs, dried corn stalks, peat, hemp, paper, and alfalfa hay. Preference is determined by cost, availability, convenience, and type of sheep. Wool sheep will not appreciate sawdust because it gets in their fleece. Paper is highly absorbent but difficult to manage in the field.

Lambs start with their mother’s milk and a light diet of pasture grass at two weeks old. After weaning the lambs from ewe’s milk at six weeks old, they can start eating dry feed of grains (wheat, oats, barley, cottonseed, corn), soybean and peanut hulls, and hay. The main diet of sheep is fresh grass and other forage and pasture vegetation. The pasture must be fertile and large enough to support the grazing of sheep for about seven hours a day (morning and afternoon). Fresh water must be constantly available, especially during the warm months and if the diet is mostly dry hay. Supplements are recommended, and must be given in the middle of the day to balance the sheep’s food intake.

wonderful

wonderful sweet temperaments, little guys, small hobby farm, excellent pets, micron range

challenging

hooves, Deworming

interesting

knit socks, hand spinners, cashmere, great 4H project, fleece

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