The Southdown were developed in Sussex, England during the late 1700 and early 1800s'.  Documented importations were made into Pennsylvania from 1824 to 1829 from the English Flock of John Ellman. Later irnportations from the Jonas Webb flock were made into Pennsylvania, New York and Illinois.  These two men are considered by many to be the standardizer and main improver of the breed. As expected, many of the early registered sheep were imported from England.

The Southdown is best suited for farm flock production.  It is a medium to small sized breed with a gray to mouse-brown face and lower legs and is polled (hornless).  Southdown are an early maturing breed with good lambing ability and average milk production.  They excel in a cross breeding program in their ability to produce meaty lamb carcasses at light weights and hot-house lambs.  The Soutdown is adaptable to varied and wet climates.

Mature weights for Southdown rams range in weight from 190 to 230 pounds (86-104 kg), ewes are slightly smaller and weigh from 130 to 180 pounds (59-81 kg).  Fleece weights from mature ewe are between five and eight pounds (2.25-3.6 kg) with a yield of 40 to 55 percent.  The fleeces are considered medium wool type with a fiber diameter of 23.5 to 29.0 microns and a numerical count of 54 to 60.  The staple length of Southdown fleece ranges from 1.5 to 2.5 inches (4-6 cm).

[Sheep Breeds || Breeds of Livestock || Animal Science Home Page || Comment ]

added 1996, updated June 26, 2003