The South Glynde Southdown stud was registered in 2014 by Dee Nolan and her husband, John Southgate, bringing back Southdowns to Gum Park after an absence of more than half a century. Dee’s father, Ray, used them as a terminal sire for prime lambs and now Dee and John breed them on their certified organic farm near Naracoorte in South Australia.
The Southdown’s reputation for easy lambing has seen renewed demand for the breed. It is ideal for first matings with ewe lambs and maiden ewes producing hardy lambs whose smaller heads and narrow shoulders make for easier births and deliver more live lambs on the ground. The lambs are fast maturing with top quality meat and are increasingly sought after by buyers in the saleyards.
The modern-day flock at Gum Park started with twenty-two ewes and two rams purchased from Fincham Burando in 2007. The flock has tripled in size and new sires and top genetics from award-winning studs, Chandpara and Fairbank have been introduced.
As well, Dee and John are breeding a small flock of Babydolls – the name by which the heritage mid-20th-century Southdowns used by Dee’s father are now known. Because of their compact size and placid nature, they are much sought after by small acre farmers and vineyard owners.
The South Glynde name honours the pioneering vision of English master breeder, John Ellman, who founded today’s breed over 200 years ago at Glynde in Sussex. The breed originated from the South Downs and Ellman’s dedicated efforts transformed the sturdy, hardy, thrifty heath sheep into a fine-woolled, excellent prime lamb sire. It became the founder and improver of a whole family of short wool sheep which would become highly sought after not only in Britain but overseas, especially in Australia where it was the supreme terminal sire until the 1960s. Industry demand for larger prime lambs saw it eclipsed by larger British breed sires. A taller, longer animal started to emerge from New Zealand Southdown breeders later in the 20th century, retaining all the easy lambing and fast maturing qualities and the subsequent revival of the Southdown is making a significant impact on the prime lamb market.
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