Oxford Down sheep at Jimmy’s Farm & Wildlife Park
The Oxford Down sheep has a thick covering of wool and has a woolly topknot. Both sexes are polled (no horns) with wool-less with very dark brown, wool-less faces. Their legs are dark with a wool covering.
The breed has been successfully used throughout Northern Europe and is a generally hardy breed capable of surviving in most conditions. Firm handling is required as the breed is so large.
Lambs have a good wool covering at birth and do not suffer from the cold.
History of the Oxford Down sheep
The development of the Oxford Down began in the 1830s from crossbreeding Southdown and Hampshire Down ewes with Cotswold rams.
Many of the early flocks were based around Witney hence the name Oxford Down and in 1889 the Oxford Down Sheep Breeders’ Association and the first flock book published.
The breed became immensely popular and was widely exported throughout Europe and North America. In the latter half of the 20th century the breed’s popularity declined as farmers focused on producing smaller joints.
As with the other Down breeds the Oxford Down was overtaken by the Suffolk and imported breeds such as the Texel.
In the first half of the 20th century, upwards of 1000 rams were penned annually at the Kelso Ram Sales in the Scottish Borders
Rare Breeds Survival Trust
Jimmy’s Farm & Wildlife Park is proud to be a member of the RBST, whose mission is to ensure we do not lose the diversity of our native breeds. They do this through a programme of monitoring, saving and promoting the breeding & registration of rare and native breeds.
Meet some more of our rare breeds
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