Southdown Sheep: Smallest British Breed

The Southdown Sheep is a medium-hair, dark-skin, antlerless breed originally from the Sussex Hills. It is the oldest of all the British breeds of sheep, with an ideal body conformation for the production of meat. Its wool is narrow and is one of the best of all British breeds. The Southdown is popular in many parts of the world, especially in the Commonwealth and the United States.

It takes its name from Suffolk County, although it developed in Suffolk, Essex, and Norfolk counties in southeast England. Also, this breed originates by crossing black face rams South Down on ancient native sheep called Norfolk. It has now been divided into two sub-races: The Southdown of today’s commercial producers is larger than the “traditional” Southdown of years ago.

Southdown Sheep

Characteristics of Southdown Sheep

The Southdown Sheep are characterized by being fertile, precocious, with an important frequency of melliferous and they are excellent mothers. In a pure Southdown flock, with an adequate nutritional level, it is expected between 20 – 25% of melliferous (even 30%). Results that have been verified in the main Cabin of our country where the nutritional base is mainly natural field and improved natural field.

On the other hand, the rams are very hard workers and prolific, being able to cover to field up to 50 bellies without difficulty. The sheep at birth weigh between 3.8 and 4.0 kg. The lambs in addition to registering good weights at birth are characterized by having an excellent initial vigor which ensures low neonatal mortality.

Even in adverse conditions, obtaining better levels of the signal being the race in studies conducted in New Zealand of better performance in the first days of birth. No problems of Dystocia (or birthing) have been registered either in the slaughter sheds or in sheep of wool breeds in terminal crossing systems. You can also like to read Shetland Sheep.

The Southdown breed is a breed of white wool, thin and short. Objective data of the breed with which it is counted. The fineness of the fleece of this species is between 23 and 26 microns. At the moment of commercialization, it was always classified as fine, obtaining good prices. On the other hand, the length of the fleece goes from 4 to 6 centimeters. While the weight of fleece in a normal and dirty state is between 1.5 to 2.5 kg.

There is no objective data of color at a national level, being totally white animals, unlike other carnivorous breeds. Therefore it is considered a good option in crossing systems where, in addition to producing meat, you do not want to demean the wool. The presence of moles is practically insignificant, being able to appear black fleece animals but in very low proportion.

Small in size, its conformation is perfect as a meat animal. The head is small, without horns, a very short neck, the body representing a parallelepiped of exceptional width. The extremely short members, face, and extremities of pigmented limbs from dark brown to dark gray.

The shoulders are soft and well-balanced. For his part, he has a deep and well-defined chest. The back is long, level and with a good cover of meat and muscle. Tail broad and well implanted, long ribs and well extended. It also has straight and black legs with flat bones and good quality. Covered with wool up to the knee and hocks, clean down.

The legs should be strong and well plump, long and muscular. The fleece is dense and free of black fibers. While the belly is well covered with wool. On the other hand, the skin is fine, soft and pink. The fleece of secondary value does not exceed 20 kilos. Wool from 26 to 30 microns, short and rough. You can also like to read Rambouillet Sheep.

Specialized breed for the production of precocious lambs and their own confirmation for a great meat yield; very indicated for industrial crosses with dual races. The males of this species weigh between 90 and 100 Kg. While the women of this breed weigh between 60 to 80 Kg.


Southdown Sheep is a double-purpose breed, the farmers produce it for their excellent wool. As well as for producing excellent meat.

Special Feature

Southdown Sheep have extraordinary exploitation conditions that have stimulated the interest of farmers in New Zealand, Australia, the United States, Canada, Argentina, etc. Countries where this variety thrives more and more. The Southdown sheep is a very resistant breed of domestic sheep and is valued primarily for its lambs.

They breed once a year and their sheep produce more lambs of high quality than any other breed. The Southdown Sheep often use for crossing with other species to produce more substantial lambs.


Is Southdown a meat sheep?

Yes, Southdown is a meat sheep. It is a breed of domestic sheep that originated in the early 19th century in Sussex, England. The Southdown was developed by John Ellman and is one of the oldest and most popular breeds of sheep in England. The breed was exported to the United States in 1825 and has since become popular there as well.

Are Southdown sheep a rare breed?

Southdown sheep are a rare breed, but not critically endangered. They were first developed in the early 19th century in England, and were bred to produce meat and wool. These sheep are small and have a white face and legs. They are considered to be one of the oldest breeds of sheep in England.


The Southdown is a British breed of domestic sheep, ​​ the smallest of the British breeds. It is a short wool breed and it’s considered to be one of the most popular meat sheep in England. With its small size and high-quality lambing rate, this specific type of animal can work well for smaller farms or those with limited acreage. For more information on how your farm might benefit from raising these animals or if you’re still unsure about what kind of livestock would best suit your needs, contact an expert like us today!

As a Reference: Wikipedia.

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