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The Southdown breed of sheep originated in Sussex County, England. They were raised for their meat and fine fleece. The small Southdown was not satisfying the consumer's demand for large cuts of meat. Therefore, they were bred to be larger. This is evident in the Southdown of today, which is larger and leggier. While breeding for larger characteristics, the original Southdown was nearly lost. In the 1990's small flocks of the original Southdowns were rediscovered and named Olde English Babydoll Southdown Sheep. They are raised for their wool, as pets, for 4-H projects, organic fertilization and weed control in vineyards/orchards, and as lawn ornaments.
Babydoll's wool is coveted by hand spinners.. Samples of their fleece are found to be 19 to 22 microns which is the same class as cashmere. The fleece blends well with several other fibers such as Angora Goat and Angora Rabbit.
The gentle nature of the Babydolls make them excellent companions for all ages. They are also wonderful in vineyards and orchards because they keep the grass and weeds trimmed, but don't bother the vines or trees unlike taller sheep breeds.
Babydolls are cared for in the same manner as other sheep. This includes hoof trimming, worming, vaccinations, and annual shearing. They do not challenge fencing, but secure fences are important to keep out predators.
Please refer to the NABSSAR website for a detailed history and description of Babydoll characteristics.