Southdowns originate from the sheep that roamed the range of grass covered chalk hills running East and West along the Southeast coast of England in Sussex and Kent for the last 500 years.

Southdown wool is shorter, denser and finer (25-23 microns) than other England breeds and was used for fine wool suits prior to the importation of Merino wool for this purpose.

The Southdown came to Australia in the 1790's as a meat breed. Their reputation as a superior sire of early maturing prime lambs was already well known, with most of New Zealands 'Canterbury Lamb' produced by Southdown rams.

Over decades in Australia, breeders have developed several different lines of Southdowns.

To compete with modern meat breeds a heavier, taller and longer Southdown with a clean face was created by upgrading from other British sheep breeds. This is the commercial breed that most butchers and consumers will be familiar with.

However, some breeders continued with the heritage bred smaller Southdown lines especially as they were useful under orchards and in vineyards. The meat has dense melt in the mouth muscle with fantastic marbling and little in the way of "greasy" back fat.

A breakaway group from heritage Southdowns were renamed "Babydoll" Southdowns in keeping with the American naming system and have their own breed standard.

The three varieties of Southdown available in Australia are "Southdown", "Heritage Southdown" and "Babydoll Southdown".

Hoya Pastoral

Hoya Heritage Southdown Sheep