Southdown Sheep, Size, Diseases & Best 10+ Information

Southdown sheep is a British breed of sheep with fine, glossy fleece. They are raised primarily in the South Downs area of England for meat and wool production, though some are exported to America where they have been crossbred with American breeds. The breed was first found in the UK by Walter Wade who crossed Southdown rams with Hampshire ewes to produce a new breed.

The sheep are renowned for their consistently good and hardy carcasses, wool, good carcass, and color. There are around 350,000 breeding females in the UK, making it the second most common breed after the mule, with a flock of around 2 million. The principal areas are Sussex and Kent; however, the Southdowns have been exported all around Europe.


How to identify Southdown sheep?

these sheep have a double coat of medium-length wool that hangs loosely. They have dusty-colored skin and black hooves. The ones that look similar, but are usually darker in color are the Romney sheep. The Southdown has a uniform black fleece and horns. The rams have straight horns that curve to the tip and weigh from 3 pounds to 7 pounds, while ewes’ horns weigh from 1 pound to 5 pounds.

Southdown sheep size

Southdowns are small by sheep standards, although they are larger than Shetland, which is where the name “Southdown” comes from. They reach a height of about 40 inches at the withers and have an average weight of about 110 pounds. The shearling ram weighs around 93 pounds and the ewe weighs around 76 pounds.

Mature ewes in the UK weigh from 55 kg to 75 kg (120 lbs. to 165 lbs.). Non-mature ewes, called hoggets, weigh from 20 kg to 35 kg (40 lbs. to 60 lbs.).

Average height

Mature rams in the UK measure 54 cm to 67 cm (21 in. to 26 in.) at the withers; they weigh from 170 kg to 230 kg (375 lbs. to 510 lbs.).

Behavioral characteristics

Southdown sheep are docile animals. They are herbivores and generally don’t like to travel far from the barnyard. If a member of the flock is hurt, they all flock together to use their bodies to protect the injured one, even though it might be a different breed such as a goat or cow. It is also said that alone Southdown will rub against a tree for hours with no effect except to remove the fleece from its side.

Southdown Sheep herd
Southdown Sheep herd

Southdown fleece is generally medium-coarse and medium-fine, with a high luster and strong colors. The wool hangs well, due to a high density of crimp. The average micron count ranges from 36 to 40, with an average length of 30 mm. Southdowns are susceptible to flystrike.

Breed origin

Southdowns have existed in some type of form for over 200 years. Their numbers were boosted in the 1970s and 1980s when there was increased demand for them to meet the high demand for meat. Since that time, Southdowns have become popular as crossbred replacements with other breeds. They are raised commercially primarily in Sussex and Kent, but also in other counties in England, Scotland and Wales.


they are typically used for meat, but the wool can be spun and woven into soft, heavy cloth.

As pet

Many pet owners or owners of small farms keep them as pets. They are docile and usually don’t leave the farm. The breed is generally docile. Many people keep them to raise them for meat, and some others for crossbreeding reasons with other breeds of cattle, such as the Hereford. Others keep Southdown for their wool, which is used in making clothing and blankets as well as carpets and furnishing fabrics.


These sheep are grazers and do not require a lot of housing. Housing should be well-ventilated with a tight floor to keep them from getting wet feet. They also need to have an area where they can get out of the sun on hot summer days. They prefer to live in an open country with lots of grass for grazing and shade trees for resting in hot weather.


they do not get many diseases. They can get worms, coughing sickness, and foot rot. These sheep have been plagued by flystrike, which can be caused by mildew that can lead to anemia and death.

Special Considerations

Like most sheep, Southdowns need to be shorn annually for their wool. It is also best to keep them in smaller flocks (no more than 25). Poor handling and transportation methods can cause stress and illness in animals, so it is important to be careful when moving them.

Southdowns are not known for their jumping ability, but it is still a good idea to have fences sturdy enough to keep them contained. However, review the full breed profile of the Southdown sheep in the following table.

Best 10+ information

Breed NameSouthdown sheep
Other NamesWool sheep, woolen
Country of OriginUnited Kingdom
Breed PurposeMeat, fiber
Weight100 pounds to 300 pounds in the adult sheep.  
ColorDeep brown
Climate ToleranceCold and hot weather  
TemperamentGenerally docile and easy to handle  
As petGood
LifespanAbout 15 years  

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