Southdown sheep come from the Sussex Downlands, England, and have been around for hundreds of years. They are one of the oldest purebred sheep. Approximately two centuries ago, selective breeding processes were pursued by breeders in the area to produce a larger type. The breed enjoyed great popularity between the late 1700s and early 1900s.
Southdown sheep are recognised for producing fast-growing prime lambs. When crossed over other ewes, the progeny will exhibit sound conformation and a quality carcase.
With the infusion of New Zealand Southdown bloodlines, mature ewes typically weigh between 68 and 77 kilograms, while mature rams reach weights between 95 and 104 kilograms. Ewes produce up to 3.5 kilograms of fleece, while rams can produce up to 5.5 kilograms. The staple length of Southdown wool is generally 4-6 centimetres. The average prolificacy rate of Southdown sheep is 150 percent.
Southdown sheep are considered to be an economical breed due to their extremely efficient feed conversion. They also produce a quality carcase that is recognised for its tenderness and fine flavour.
It is believed that Southdown sheep arrived in Australia in 1793, when they were imported by Reverend Samual Marsden. In Australia, they are extremely popular candidates in cross-breeding initiatives.
Southdown Australia is an Organization for Breeders of Southdown Stud Sheep. Southdown Australia's role is in promoting and developing the Southdown sheep breed in Australia.