Olde English (Babydoll) Southdown Lambs
About the Breed
Olde English Southdown Sheep go by a number of different names, including "Babydolls", "Babydoll Southdowns", "Miniature Southdowns", etc. They are defined by their small stature, friendly and easy-going disposition, and teddy-bear-like smiling faces. Although many people think that these sheep have been bred from a larger breed to a miniature form to make novelty pets, the opposite is true. These miniature sheep are actually the original Southdown breed from the South Downs region of England. They were imported into the US in the early 19th century and were enormously popular on small family farms in the UK and America throughout the 19th century and into the early 20th century. As family farms began to decline in the early 20th cenury, and electricity made large freezers possible, smaller breeds began to fall out of favor and the "bigger is better" philosophy resulted in people breeding progressively larger sheep until the American line of Southdowns became a large breed of meat sheep distinct from the original English breed, which had almost become extinct in the US. The use of livestock in orchards also declined as agriculture moved towards industrialization and away from integrated farms. So less and less farmers would keep these sheep in their orchards, as so many farmers switched to herbicides instead. The breed was rescued from oblivion in the 1980s, and since then has grown to be an increasingly popular breed among smallholders and hobbyists as well as orchardists and vineyard owners.
Although relatively few people eat babydoll sheep anymore, the breed was orginially developed as a dual purpose breed for both meat and wool, and the breed can still be used for this purpose today.
Some of the hardest workers on our farm are our flock of Olde English Southdown sheep who tirelessly work to keep down the grass in between our fruit and nut trees, and gobble down any fallen fruit they come across in the process. Fortunately for us, they are very willing workers who are more than glad to do this service for us. In return for their assistance, we make sure to always provide them with fresh grass, water, and minerals and keep them as happy and healthy as can be. We currently have seven ewes, one ram, and eight lambs (born in Spring of 2019), most of which will be going to new homes. Our ram is registered with Babydoll Southdown Sheep Breeders Association (BSSBA), and we are members of the BSSBA, none of our ewes is registered so all the lambs we sell are unregistered as well.
Why are these sheep so great for orchards and vineyards? The answer lies in their short stature and grazing habits. Since Babydoll Southdowns only stand 18-24" at the shoulder, they can only reach a few feet up to eat the leaves from fruit trees and grape vines. This means that they can do a great job of eating the grass, weeds, and root suckers that grow at the base of fruit trees and grape vines, without damaging the fruiting branches themselves. They will also not damage the mature bark of trees or vines when managed properly, unlike most other breeds of sheep. (It's important to note that they do love to eat the bark of young fruit trees and vines though, so young trees will need to be protected with hardware cloth or cages until they are old enough to form harder, mature bark.) In addition to keeping the grass down, they also fertilize the orchard with their droppings, and eat fallen fruit that can fester insect pests and other pathogens that would harm the quality of the fruit (but will not in any way harm the sheep). So while conventional orchards will use herbicides to kill grass around fruit trees, insecticides to kill insect pests, and fungicides to kill fungal pathogens, holistic and organic orchardists can use sheep to take the place of all these chemicals.
Join the 2020 Babydoll Lamb Waiting List!
Looking for some adorable lawn-mowing pets? Interested in starting your own flock of Babydoll sheep? Contact us to be put on our waiting list for a lamb for the 2020 lambing season. (All our lambs from 2019 have already been sold.) We will likely have lambs born starting in the beginning of April, and they will be available for their new home once they are weaned, 60-80 days after birth. We do not dock tails. There is no commitment to be put on the list right now, but around February we will work our way down the list and start collecting deposits for those who are ready to commit to a lamb and according to our expected availability. Once a deposit is paid, we will reserve the animal for you. Deposits will be refunded 100% in the event that we cannot provide the lamb for you for any reason. If you have a color preference (black/white) we will do our best to get you the color you want but cannot guarantee it. We tend to have more black lambs than white ones. Buyers who back out after paying the deposit will not have their deposit refunded.
Our list for 2020 is getting quite long, so there is a good chance that we will not be able to provide a lamb this spring (2020) for those joining the list now. If this is the case, we will continue to keep these customers on our list until we can provide them with a lamb in 2021 or beyond and they will have priority status.
Please note that we are located in Buckingham, PA and cannot transport lambs to you. You must come to the farm to pick up your lambs when they are ready for weaning. We also will not dock tails under any circumstance, nor will we allow lambs to be picked up as "bottle babies" before the 60-80 day weaning process (except in the case of an orphaned lamb).
Ewe lambs: $350 each (unregistered)
Ram/wether lambs: $250 each (unregistered)
Registered ewe lambs: $800 each (BSSBA)
Registered ram lambs: $500 each (BSSBA)
Join our waiting list now by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.