Celebrating Oxford Down Sheep

The second breed of sheep I ever purchased were my five beautiful Oxford Downs. I bought them in as ewe lambs, in the hope that I would breed from them just before their second birthdays. Unfortunately, I am having to downsize my flock and thus they will soon be on their way to a new home. Although I am feeling slightly crestfallen, I know they are off to a good home and my love for the breed will never die.

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Here’s why Oxford Down sheep are pretty bloomin’ amazing.

  1. They are gorgeous! They have beautiful fluffy faces, ridiculous antenna ears that protrude from either side of their heads and if you think they are cute as adults, just wait until you see their lambs.
  2. They bring together all the good bits from three fantastic native breeds – the Southdown, the Hampshire and the Cotswold.
  3. They produce a very heavy fleece, the heaviest of all the down breeds, and the most wool of any of the terminal sire breeds. Back in the Tudor times this would have made you super rich, now perhaps not…. Still, every penny you can make from the British Wool Board helps!
  4. They are naturally hornless, which means less harm comes to you and they are less likely to get stuck in fencing – win, win!
  5. They produce a large, meaty carcass. Their lambs also mature early and are easy to finish. Oxford Down lamb is very well marbled, which positively influences its tenderness and flavour.
  6. Oxford Downs are very adaptable. They seem to flourish on any ground and in any climate. Their versatility has led to them being exported to nearly every country in the world.
  7. They are easy to keep. They have notoriously good feet and usually lamb unassisted, which means they need minimal intervention from us humans.
  8. They are a rare breed and despite a reduction in popularity, as preferences slid towards smaller breeds and smaller joints in the fifties, they are gaining popularity again.

So can I get a round of applause for the beautiful sheep that are the Oxford Downs?

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