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New Zealand Sheep breeds


The original Down breed from the rolling country in Sussex, England, the Southdown was among New Zealand's earliest stock arrivals in the 1840s. It was used in Britain and New Zealand in the evolution of Hampshire Down, Suffolk and Dorset Down and although smaller than these breeds, the Southdown is still earlier maturing and more compact.

Once almost totally dominant as the New Zealand fat lamb sire, changes in carcase requirements have caused it to lose ground to other breeds in recent years. The pedigree Southdown is not noted for fertility, but crossbreeding improves lamb survival rates and a Southdown-Romney lamb can reach carcase weights of 13 to 15 kilos in 12 to 15 weeks.

The individual fibres of the light, fine Southdown fleece have a distinct spiralled crimping. This creates a bulky effect and short staple length in comparison to fibre length. The Southdown wool is used in knitwear blends.

Meat breed used as a terminal crossing sire. Short Down wool.

The most widespread of any Down breed in New Zealand.

Moderate sized sheep. Mouse-coloured face — upper part and ears covered with short wool. Compact, well-built body on short, woolled legs.


Body weight:
50–55 kg

Wool production:
Fibre diameter: 23–28 microns
Staple length: 50–75 mm
Fleece weight: 2–2.5 kg

Lamb production:
100–120 per cent


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