The breed started life in the UK as a cross between Norfolk Horned ewes and South Dorset rams, roughly some 130 years ago. Bred in an attempt to have a better quality meat sheep, it has proved to be a great success. Our little flock started out as a breeding trio, and today has grown into a lovely little flock of 40 breeders, and still growing. We have been very lucky with local school agricultural programmes using the breed, so we have been able to access some nice ram breeding lines.
Our flock are almost 100% grass fed, with only the ewes with multiple lambs getting grain, if they need it. Saying that, we find the ewes with multiples do very well on the annual winter rye grass which we plant for them. While the sheep have the main purpose of suppling hogget for the farmshop, they also have the secondary role of land management. We let them graze a paddock which the jerseys have previously been in, before then leaving it fallow for a period. This results in not only double manuring of a paddock but also less tractor hours/fuel consumption needed to top/mow the paddock after the cows have been through.
We have a pair of livestock guardian dogs which live with our flock. Without them we wouldn’t have a flock. Being surrounded by national parks, the threat of predation by dingo and feral/cross bred dogs, is always present. We have never lost a single sheep even though we will regularly see dogs on the farm boundaries. Lambing starts anytime from late June and continues until late September. The girls lamb out in the paddock, where a close eye is kept on them, not only by the livestock guardian dogs, but also myself. The dogs will know a ewe is lambing hours before I do, so usually I only have to look to see where the dogs are, to have a good idea of what’s happening.
Intervention only occurs as needed. Overall the flock lambs well, but I still have one or two every season who need a bit of a hand. We choose to produce hogget (between 1-2 years old), instead of lamb. This gives our wethers a longer life out on grass, but also, in our opinion, is a better tasting product. There is high demand for our hogget, which at this point in time is highly seasonal. Please email regards availability, or keep an eye on our FB page.
For further information on the breed and the dogs visit these links suffolks.com.au , suffolksheep.com.au and Livestock Guard Dogs Wiki.