Oxford Down Sheep
History of the breed
While the Oxford Down is classified as a minority breed by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust, renewed interest in traditional breeds of sheep and cattle has led to an increase in numbers and there are now 70 pedigree flocks in the UK.
The Oxford Down breed originated in the 1830s after crossing Cotswold rams with Hampshire Down and Southdown ewes. Over the next 50 years the breed stabilised and, as many of the early flocks were centered around the town of Witney in Oxfordshire, the name Oxford Down was adopted.
The breed achieved widespread success, producing outstanding sheep for mutton and wool, and purebred flocks were established throughout Britain and Ireland. Large numbers were exported to the USA, Canada, Germany, Denmark, Russia and Argentina. The Oxford Down Sheep Breeders' Association was established in 1889 and in the same year the first Flock Book was published to record the pedigrees of the breed.
The reputation of the Oxford Down grew, and for the first half of the twentieth century it was one of the most popular crossing sires for lamb and mutton production. Upwards of 1000 rams were penned annually at the Kelso Ram Sales in the Scottish Borders while in England the traditional sale was the Oxford Ram Fair.
The breed slipped from favour in the period between 1955 and 1970, a victim of fashion and the trend towards smaller breeds. A small group of dedicated breeders mainly in the Midlands, Yorkshire, Northumberland, the Borders, Aberdeenshire and Eire maintained their flocks of Oxford ewes throughout the 1970s and saw the breed enjoy a revival in the 1980s as a crossing sire. This popularity was based on the breed's ability to sire both early maturing lambs and large, lean, heavy lambs.
Today the breed continues to fulfil a specialist role as a terminal sire breed and approximately 70 registered flocks are listed in the Flock Book with a total of 1600 pedigree breeding females. The breed has been exported extensively and Oxford Down populations can also be found in the USA, Canada, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway, the Netherlands, Czech Republic, Slovakia and New Zealand. Oxford-type populations also exist in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Ukraine, and Russia.
The Oxford Down ram has a bold, masculine head, well set on a strong neck; the poll is well covered with wool, and adorned by a 'top-knot'. The face a uniform dark colour, the ears of good length, the shoulder broad, with a broad breast well forward. A full, level back, the ribs well sprung, the barrel deep, thick, and long with straight underline. The legs are short and dark coloured, standing square and well apart. The mutton is firm, lean, and of excellent quality. The whole body is covered with wool of close texture, good length, and fine quality.
Creekwell Farm Flock
The Creekwell Farm flock was established from 10 ewe's bought from James Way's Oxfields Flock. This flock is a closed flock and can trace its origins back to 1940. The flock was originally established by Richard Farnell, the Southolme Flock No.571 from Yorkshire. A closed flock is where you breed your own replacements in this case the ewe's, they are cross bred with a new sire. If you have a disease free flock these trates are passed on and the flock becomes better suited to their enviroment, the best of the bloodline are kept striving for the best the breed has to offer. The bloodline of this flock has produced many good rams and ewe's over the years and successfully shown in Yorkshire and the Royal Show.
We will continue to operate this as a closed flock. Registered Ewe's and Rams will be available for sale as breeding stock please call us on 01945774114 for details.