All about… The Hamp­shire Down

Country Smallholding - - Favourite Breed -

HAMP­SHIRE Down flocks were es­tab­lished more than 150 years ago by cross­ing breeds from Wilt­shire, Hamp­shire and Berk­shire Knot. The breed so­ci­ety was es­tab­lished in 1889 and pure Hamp­shire Down flocks pro­lif­er­ated across the whole of the South of Eng­land. There was a bur­geon­ing ex­port trade for pure Hamp­shire Downs to the ma­jor sheep pro­duc­ing coun­tries. The breed’s main pur­pose now is to pro­vide a ter­mi­nal sire for com­mer­cial flocks to pro­duce early ma­tur­ing qual­ity butch­ers’ lambs.

Ma­ture Hamp­shire Down ewes weigh 75kg, rams 115kg and the car­cass weight of lambs at slaugh­ter is 16-19kg.

Hamp­shire Down ewes lamb nat­u­rally from De­cem­ber on­wards, but they will take the ram at any time of year. With an aver­age lamb­ing per­cent­age of be­tween 150-180%, the lambs are very ro­bust and the ewes have good longevity and of­ten lamb for 10-12 years. The breed thrives on mar­ginal grass­land and the lambs fin­ish quickly with no con­cen­trates.

Hamp­shire Down wool is white, soft and fine (typ­i­cally 31-33 mi­crons). It is sought af­ter by hand spin­ners and knit­ters. A first­s­hear ewe will pro­duce a fleece weigh­ing ap­prox­i­mately 3.5- 4kgs.

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