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The Suffolk was developed in the early 1800’s in the southeastern area of England by crossing Southdown and Norfolk Horned sheep. It came to Canada in 1888 and interest in the breed rose rapidly after 1920. It is now the dominant breed in Canada.
Because Suffolk lambs are usually twins, exceed all others in rate of gain, respond well to confinement and command higher prices, they offer the best economic returns in the industry and continue to dominate the heavy lamb market in Canada. The rams are widely used as terminal sires on rangelands because of their ability to pass on valuable traits in meat production, i.e., rate of gain, carcass quality and high red meat content. However, the Suffolk is a heavy feeder and those breeders enjoying success with them have kept them at a moderate size, resisting recent trends by some breeders to make them bigger. The moderate sized Suffolk is an efficient converter of feed, somewhat shorter-lived than white-faced breeds and performs best on small farms and acreages under controlled management.