Breeding Babydoll Sheep in Australia
The History of Babydoll Southdowns in Australia
The Southdown sheep were originally farmed in the southern part of the counties of Kent, Sussex, Hampshire and Dorsetshire in England. They are named Southdowns after the long range of chalky hills where they were originally grazed.
In Australia the Southdown dates back to the beginnings of the sheep industry, coming to Australia on the First Fleet, and over time, breed characteristics have been changed by breeders to better meet the Australian conditions. The sheep has changed to a much larger framed and heavier Southdown of today with very short wool on their faces. This type of Southdown is sometimes known as the ‘Modern Southdown’ and most Southdowns in Australia are of this type.
Fortunately for the Babydoll Southdown, the Metcalf brothers in Victoria continued to breed the small, stocky type of Southdown, which they called the ‘Original Southdown.’ The Metcalf brothers were very successful breeders and won many championships with their Original Southdowns.
The Metcalf brothers eventually passed their stud onto Mr & Mrs Murray and Judy Peart, who continued to produce the Original Southdown at ‘Hillgrove Stud’ in central Victoria. We are very fortunate that ‘Hillgrove Stud’ has stayed true to the original Southdown; without them it is doubtful if they would have survived for us to enjoy today.
In America, a similar situation evolved. In 1990 Mr Robert Mock decided to locate as many Original Southdowns as he could. With much difficulty and much travelling, he found enough to form an adequate gene pool. He initiated a registry to protect their bloodlines and the term ‘Babydoll’ originates from here. This name has been formally adopted in Australia by the Australian Stud Sheep Breeders Association (ASSBA) and Babydolls now have their own section in the Flock Registry.