Other common names: Southdowns Sheep; South Downs 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.
According to the The Southdown Sheep Society, "The peak of the Southdown's popularity was from about 1790 to the 1914-18 War. During this time they were to be found on many of the large estates in flocks of 1000 or over, as well as being in the possession of yeoman farmers. Although it had been exported to many parts of the world, probably it had its greatest impact in New Zealand, where it was the sire used in the production of the "Canterbury Lamb", a position it held for many decades. The Southdown of today has returned to a larger more active sheep, partly due to the reintroduction of New Zealand and French blood."
Somewhat controversial is the creation of a "sub-breed", the Babydoll Southdown Sheep.
Appearance / health:
Southdown Sheep are a medium sized breed.
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:
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.
disease resistant.They, great temperamentthey, quality lamb, quality wool
Randolph is my favourite sheep ever. He quickly replaced Brian and Timothy in first place. Randolph was gorgeous. Randolph had big (excuse the expression) mutton chops, he looked like a teddy bear. He also had a wicked sense of humour. He loved it when some innocent person looking the other way (well the way they were walking). He'd start walking, trotting, galloping to this person and if you did not turn round and catch him he would like nothing better than to unite his big woolly head with the back of your knees. If he was seen he would just acquire a most innocent expression, change direction and go that way as he surely intended to all along.
Yes, it's true. Sheep are stupid. But also incredibly clever. They remember. The know that in the barn is where they have their hooves clipped and their fleeces shorn. They also know that's where the food is. So when you are there to get the food out there they are. When you go to get them in the barn to clip their hooves - there they aren't.
I was there for Duchesses first lamb - lots of pain, panting and confusion - mostly on her side. And then relief when her giant boy came out. She stood panting in relief. And had no idea there was a baby she had created lying in the straw behind her. Until it bleated then motherly sheeperly instinct kicked in and she turned and began nursing her bairn.
Randolph sadly died. He got foot rot and although treated he was found dead the next day. According to a our local friendly shepherd that is normal. Sheep tend to give up easily and none more easily than the males. The females often have a bit more get up and go, maybe to do with being mothers but male sheep. Well, it's just too hard.
I was once told not to get livestock because there always comes a point when livestock become deadstock. Well its true and if you're not prepared for that bit I suggest you adopt a something at your local zoo..
From Hairybear Jul 24 2015 4:51AM
You can't miss with a smiling Southdown
Southdown sheep are beautiful. Short in the leg, great easy going animals. We started with three sheep, two ewes and a ram. The ram was difficult and you need to literally watch your but when in his pasture because he will knock you down with no hesitation. He did give us six beautiful babies, four of them needed to be pulled. They were born in different years but always seemed to be the coldest night of the year.
If you have a good pasture all they need is salt which you can purchase in block or granulated, and a sheep shed which keeps them out of the weather.
If you live in an area with predators like coyotes or wild dogs you will need protection for them. We found that out after one of the sheep was attacked by a coyote. We started with a miniature donkey (Kiwi) but he protected his pasture not what was in it, so we went with Great Pyrenees dogs for protection. They did a great job. We purchased the dogs and the sheep from the same farm in Georgia. Purchasing our first sheep there we noticed the farm had several of the Great Pyrenees dogs there and we quickly found out why.
Sheep do need care. you need to shear them once a year. We started shearing them ourselves, but quickly decided that it took three weekends to do six or seven sheep and found that for six dollars per sheep they would all be done in an hour. Get on a rotation for sheep shearers in your area and they come at the same time every year.
We do feed our sheep just plain old scratch grain once a day, mainly to see them up close, maybe get a chance to pet one or two and just check out how they are doing. They need annual shots but the vet will come out so you don't need to move them.
We understand that they are great for meat as well as wool, but I can't eat an animal that has a name and is like a child. The wool we have been saving. I'm not sure for what yet, there are many things you can do with it. Use it as insulation in your workshop, felt it for dog beds, have it turned into yarn. We have some ideas but we have done nothing with it yet..
From Matt2654 Jan 27 2016 11:30PM