Suffolk Sheep

A popular meat breed, the large Suffolk has a regal look that also offers medium wool.

by Dani Yokhna
PHOTO: J gareth p/Wikimedia Commons

Use: One of the most popular meat sheep breeds in the United States, the Suffolk efficiently converts forage to lean, quality lamb. These sheep also produce about 5 to 8 pounds of medium wool with a spinning count of 48 to 58 and a staple length of around 2 to 3.5 inches.

History: A native of England, the Suffolk originated as a cross between the British Southdown, a large polled breed with fine bones and dark faces/legs, and the Norfolk Horned sheep, a muscular, long-legged breed capable of traveling long distances for food through the uplands of Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridge. Mingling Southdown rams and Norfolk Horned Ewes resulted in sheep with the best qualities of both breeds, including large size, plenty of muscle, good foraging ability, and rapid growth of lambs – the ideal mutton sheep. At first called the Southdown Norfolk or Blackface, the Suffolk was recognized as a breed in 1810. It came to the U.S. in 1888 after a flock of the impressive sheep caught the eye of G.B. Streeter on his visit to Britain.

Conformation: Massive, muscular Suffolk rams weigh 250 to 350 pounds, while the ewes weigh 180 to 250 pounds. This regal breed has a polled head covered in fine black hair, a long Roman-shaped muzzle, and long, drooping ears. The Suffolk’s black head and legs, wool-free below the knees, stand out in beautiful contrast to the dense white fleece covering its sturdy, long-backed body.

Special Considerations/Notes: Suffolk ewes are said to be easy lambers whose offspring grow rapidly on the abundant milk they provide. These vigorous sheep do well foraging on range and their feet are very resistant to foot rot.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *