Tullens Pickhurst Lane
HISTORY OF THE BREED
The origin of the Dorset Down breed goes back nearly 200 years. A Mr Homer Saunders in Watercombe near Dorchester commenced his work of improving the class of "Down" sheep by crossing his largest rams and ewes. At the same time a Mr Humfrey from Chaddleworth near Newbury, crossed some of his best Berkshire, Hampshire and Wiltshire ewes with pure Southdown rams from the celebrated flock of Jonas Webb. This created the "West Country Down".
In the second half of the nineteenth century the sheep of Messrs Saunders and Humfrey were introduced into the Down flocks of Dorset to produce what we know today as the Dorset Down. The Dorset Down Breeders Association was formed in 1906. While as seen below the breed has many attributes , due to the influx of foreign breeds with allegedly leaner meat and a higher lambing count the number of pure bred Dorset Downs has, in recent years, declined. Today there are under 3,000 registered animals in only 50 registered flocks so the breed is classified as a "Minority Rare Breed" by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust.
EARLY MATURITY- The Dorset Down Ram has no equal for early maturing lamb production. He transmits all his qualities and produces an ideal carcasse regardless of the sex of the lamb. Single lambs can be brought up to 18kg dressed carcasse weight within 10-12 weeks. Twin lambs can reach this target within 12-14 weeks and a good lamb can gain up to half a kg. live weight per week.
MATING- Dorset Down Rams can be used with confidence on any breed of ewe. Difficult lambing cases can be eliminated because of the small head. Lambs are very hardy at birth, vigorous and ready to suckle. The ram will work at any time of the year and ewes will take the ram at most months of the year thus enabling the breeding of early lambs. TEMPERAMENT- Rams are generally easy to handle and ewes are docile and adaptable. They make an ideal breed for small flocks. They cope well with close winter housing, paddock grazing or stocking behind electric fencing. CARCASSE CONFORMATION-The animals are fine boned and well fleshed with an outstanding leg and a good depth of meat from tail to crutch. The loin is perfectly covered with a full eye of meat and the shoulder is of particularly good flavour.
HIGH QUALITY FLEECE- The wool is short and fine in texture on mature sheep. Tight wool on lambs resists bad weather. The British Wool marketing Board classes the wool as of the highest grade.
SHOWING OUR SHEEPShow results worthy of note in recent years are as follows;
1st Rare Breed Ram and Reserve Rare Breed Champion -Surrey County Show
1st Rare Breed Ewe and Rare Breed Champion -Cranleigh Agricultural Show (Also won Ram Lamb, Ram and Shearling Ewe Rare Breed Classes)
1st Rare Breed Shearling Ewe and Reserve Rare Breed Champion-Edenbridge And Oxted Show (Also won Rare Breed Ram Lamb Class)
1st Rare Breed Ewe and Rare Breed Champion -North East Hampshire & Alton Show (Also won Rare Breed Ram class)
1st Ewe Lamb and Reserve Downs Breed Champion -Weald And Downland Rare Breed Show (Also won Downs Breed Ewe and Ram Lamb classes)
Supreme Inter Breed Champion and Champion Downs Breed Ewe -Weald And Downland Rare Breed Show (Also won Downs Beed Ram Lamb class)
1st Rare Breed Ram and Shearling Ram North East Hampshire and Alton Show
1st Rare Breed Ram Lamb and Reserve Rare Breed Champion-Cranleigh Agricultural Show (Also Won Rare Breed Ram class)
Did not Show
Rare Breed Champion & Reserve Champion 1st Rare Breed Ram , Ewe And Ewe & Lamb -Surrey County Show
3rd Downs Breeds (other than Southdowns) Shearling Ewe and Ram Lamb- South Of England Show
1st Downs Breed Ram and Ram Lamb -Weald And Downland Rare Breed Show
1st Rare Breed Shortwool Ram & Ram Lamb-Cranleigh Agricultural Show
1st Rare Breed Ram Lamb-Findon Sheep Fair
Did not show
3rd Ewe -Downs Breeds (Ex Southdowns)-South Of England Show
1st Rare Breed shortwool Ewe Lamb and Reserve Rare Breed Champion-Cranleigh Agricultural Show
1st Rare Breed Shortwool Ewe Lamb -Findon Sheep Fair
1st Rare Breed Ewe and Reserve Rare Breed Champion- Surrey County Show
1st Rare Breed Shortwool Ewe _Cranleigh Agricultural Show