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The Southdown was developed in Sussex, England during the late 1700's and early 1800's and exported to the US shortly after. In this century it became known as the "Aberdeen Angus" of the Canadian sheep industry because of its ability to flesh out on a small carcass, however the breed dropped drastically in numbers in the 1960's because of its too small stature and difficulty with lambing.
Breeding improvements have restored size to the Southdown while preserving its feed conversion efficiency and the breed has come back into favor. It is a medium sized sheep that excels in producing meaty carcasses for the medium to light lamb marked. The Southdown is very docile, adapts well to confinement operations and can be easily finished on pasture. Southdown rams are widely used as terminal sires to put finish on many other breeds but the ewes are usually bred pure. Because of its size and gentle nature, the Southdown makes an excellent starter flock or 4-H project for children.