We started with 2 pedigree Southdown sheep that were given to me by a colleague 7 years ago and have gradually grown our numbers and we are now up to 42 animals in the flock. We have been happy to see our numbers grow over the years but, since each breeding ewe has, on average 2 lambs per year, our numbers have started to grow exponentially so finally, after years and years when we have only ever bought stock and equipment, we have got to the stage where we have sufficient numbers to sell.
Southdown sheep used to be a very popular commercial breed but their numbers in the UK declined significantly at around the time of World War 2 when food supplies were scarce and farmers replaced many of the slower growing native breeds with more commercial breeds that matured faster.
Southdown sheep are now listed by the Rare Breeds Trust as being “at risk” and the breed is championed by the Southdown Sheep Society who promote the breed and ensure its continuation.
Every year, the Southdown Sheep Society organises an annual show and sale at the Auction Market in Worcester and so, with an early start on Saturday morning, the Paterson family set off with a trailer load of 5 young ewes in tip-top show condition.
We arrived at Worcester at 8.30 am and navigated the maze of gates between the unloading area and our allocated pens, allowing time for some last minute titivating before the show.
We were able to enter our 2 best sheep in the “Shearling Ewe” class. Our sheep are very used to being handled by us and so they stood beautifully while the judge looked at them but they reacted less well when the judge felt over their backs to check their body condition. Everyone else’s sheep seemed to be much better behaved than ours and we thought that we would be marked down so we were delighted when the judge approached us with 2nd and 5th place rosettes.
It was great to talk to other Southdown owners about how they manage their flock and to wander round the pens to compare our stock with other peoples’.
The sale that followed was a great success with all our sheep attracting strong interest. They were all sold for breeding stock to flocks throughout the south of England and we returned north with an empty trailer having made space for our next crop of lambs which will be due in March next year