Blog: New Sheep Flock

Jul 01, 2016 Written by 

Say hi to our new flock of Oxford Down Sheep. 

Britain probably has the largest range of native sheep breeds in the world and along with our Rare Breed Goats we have a few rare native breeds of our own.

Our goat herd make up the large proportion of our livestock, however our sheep flock also takes up much of the farming calendar, from their regular care and annual shearing in the summer (we often have raw fleeces for sale from our flock, as well as spun yarns, for further details of available fleeces contact us direct.) to the excitement of lambing in early spring. 

The Oxford Down Sheep are a rare breed of sheep that has become een successfully used throughout Northern Europe since 1830s after crossing Cotswold rams with Hampshire Down and Southdown ewes. 

The Oxford down sheep are easily recognisable from their dark faces and woolly white fleeces - making them 'teddy bear' looking. 

'The reputation of the Oxford Down grew, and for the first half of the twentieth century it was one of the most popular crossing sires for lamb and mutton production. Upwards of 1000 rams were penned annually at the Kelso Ram Sales in the Scottish Borders while in England the traditional sale was the Oxford Ram Fair.

The Oxford Down is the heaviest of all the Down breeds, and the second heaviest of all British breeds of sheep. The breed has developed a sheep of hardy constitution, noted for early maturity and quality meat, with strong bone and thick, fine wool with good length of staple. The Oxford produces the heaviest fleece of any of the Down breeds. It shears a valuable commercial fleece of long-staple, light-shrinking wool which is commonly used for hosiery, knitting yarns and felts.'

'The pure-bred Oxford Down ewe is found to be healthy, easily managed, docile and with good mothering ability. Partly because the Oxford Down is a large breed, the ewes are relatively easy to lamb and many will lamb unassisted.'

'The breed is also noted for its very good, hard feet that need minimal attention. Ewes will naturally take the ram early in the season, making them suitable for early lamb production. The pure Oxford is a hardy animal and the pure-bred lamb, with good wool cover at birth, a good birthweight, and a strong instinct to suckle will withstand adverse conditions and generally does well.'

The Oxford Down thrives equally well on both arable and grassland and in every climate, and finishes on a comparatively smaller quantity of food than almost any breed. It is a notable fact that although some breeds of sheep appear to thrive only in certain localities, Oxford Downs flourish everywhere and have been exported to nearly every country in the world, so will be suited to our very chanagable weather, here in the far north.

 Advantages of the Breed.

1.  HIGH GROWTH RATE
Oxford cross lambs have outstanding liveweight gain potential with a capacity for maturity up to three weeks earlier than lambs by other rams
2. LARGE LEAN LAMBS
Oxford cross lambs will grow to heavy weights without excess fat
3. EASY FLESHING
Oxford cross lambs will finish easily off grass or low-cost fodder as lambs or hoggs and will hold condition well during adverse weather
4. HARDY LAMBS
Good wool cover at birth and high birthweights give lambs a high degree of tolerance to cold and wet conditions
5. LAMB VIGOUR
Oxford cross lambs are strong and active at birth
6. EASY LAMBING
Oxford cross lambs will lamb easily from most ewe breeds and crosses. Oxfords do not have excessive bone
7. CARCASE QUALITY
Large lean carcases with great width of loin and depth of lean meat. Flavour and eating quality are excellent
8. WILL TO LIVE
Oxford rams are vigorous, active, and good stock-getters and are noted for their longevity
9. VERSATILITY
Oxford crosses can be finished quickly for the early trade or kept on to heavier weights for later marketing, giving great versatility to the commercial producer
10. LEVEL LAMB CROP
Oxford rams are highly prepotent and will stamp their type on progeny, producing a level crop of lambs from all breeds and crosses of ewe

 

For regular update of our sheep flock, follow us on Twitter and Facebook by clicking on the link to the side of this page.

 

Last modified on Tuesday, 16 August 2016 11:12

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