Oxford Down Sheep

Latin Name Ovis aries
Class Mammal
Order Artiodactyla
Family Bovidae
RBST Status At Risk
Habitat Native Domestic

General Information

Oxford Down sheep are one of Britain’s rare breeds, originating from a time when every local area had their own breeds, best suited to the place in which they live. The early Oxford Down flocks were centred around Witney in Oxfordshire after Cotswold Rams were crossed with Hampshire Down and Southdown ewes in the 1830s.

Like many native breeds, following the Second World War the breed became unfashionable as farmers desired a more compact breed. However, the breed was saved in the 1980s by dedicated breeders in the north of England and Scotland. The term ‘Down’ is used to describe sheep with fine, dense and heavy wool. When sheared, the fleece of an Oxford down can weigh as much as 5.4kg!