The Suffolk breed of sheep came about by mating Norfolk Horn ewes with Southdown rams in the Bury St Edmunds area. These sheep were originally known as ‘Southdown Norfolks’, or as ‘Black faces’ in the local area.
The first official record of the term ‘Suffolk breed’ was founded in 1797 when Arthur Young stated: “These ought to be called the Suffolk breed, the mutton has superior texture, flavour, quantity and colour of gravy.”
Suffolks adapted around the rotational system of farming in East Anglia. They would graze on grass or clover in the summer; once weaned the ewes could be put on salt marshes or stubbles. In the winter, swedes, turnips or mangels were grazed very labour intensive system with a fresh area fenced off each day.
Lambing would take place in February or March, outdoors in the fields with a hurdle shelter or in open yards surrounded by hurdles and straw.
The breed expanded rapidly; 1891 saw the first flock in Ireland, 1895 in Scotland and 1901 in Wales. From the earliest days these sheep were exported around the world, to: Austria, France, Germany, Switzerland, Russia, North and South America and the colonies.
Originally renowned as a producer of mutton, the Suffolk has developed over the years to match the demands of the consumer. They are the flag-ship breed in the British Isles and recognised as the leading terminal sire on a variety of ewes to produce top quality prime lamb.
Last edited on mlApr 30th, 2015