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About the Hampshire Down

Breed History

Hampshire Down flocks were established more than 150 years ago. The breed originated by crossing the Wiltshire Horn and the Berkshire Knot with the Southdown. These flocks became very important in maintaining fertility on the thin soils of Wiltshire, Hampshire and Berkshire and were numerous across the whole of the South of England. There were massive sales at Wilton, Overton, Weyhill and other fairs with as many as 20,000 entries at each one.

Main Purpose of the Breed

The breed has been developed to provide terminal sires for commercial flocks. Hampshire Down sired lambs are early maturing quality butchers’ lambs. The meat is very lean and has been described as a “Butchers favourite”. The Maes-Glas Flock are Signet Recorded and scanned to encourage the breeding of lean fast-growing sheep. This gives the commercial flockmaster the opportunity to use high growth-rate, lean producing rams. Hampshire ram is also significant higher than the national average of all other breeds. In 2004, 90{3eb0ad736e9e4720aec14cdefc5dfea1cbbf72ece838d203e0a2440931676d80} of all rams tested were of either group one (ARR/ARR) or group two (ARR/ARQ) – compared to only an average of 77.2{3eb0ad736e9e4720aec14cdefc5dfea1cbbf72ece838d203e0a2440931676d80} of all other breeds combined. All Maes-Glas Rams will tested at either ARR/ARR (Group 1) or ARR/ARQ (Group 2), with the vast majority ARR/ARR.

General Information

Hampshire Downs lamb naturally in December with a lambing percentage of around 150-180{3eb0ad736e9e4720aec14cdefc5dfea1cbbf72ece838d203e0a2440931676d80}. The lambs are very robust and hardy being able to withstand most climatic conditions from a very early age. They are extensively kept both on pastures and uplands and will finish on grass quickly with no concentrates. From birth a Hampshire Down crossbred lamb will reach 18 kg deadweight in under three months.

The carcass is well fleshed with one of the highest eye muscle scores of any breed. Usually grading extremely well, the modern Hampshire has been selected to pass on its characteristics plus leanness to its progeny whilst retaining the excellent succulence and flavour for which the breed is renowned.

The ewes last well and regularly lamb for up to 10 or 12 years. Hampshire Downs will conceive at any time of the year, therefore three crops of lambs can be obtained in two years. One of the most important characteristics is outstanding food conversion which enables it to survive well in marginal grass conditions.

Hampshire Downs are regularly exported to Europe where numerous flocks exist. In particular many flocks are to be found in Netherlands, Belgium and France. The breed is particularly valued there because of the high quality quick maturing lambs and the ability to survive both in extremes of cold as found in the Massif Central in France and of heat as experienced by a continental summer, without shelter. World-wide, Hampshire Downs are to be found in over 40 countries. All sheep are inspected by the Association’s official inspectors before shipment for export.

Average prolificacy Ewe lambs 110{3eb0ad736e9e4720aec14cdefc5dfea1cbbf72ece838d203e0a2440931676d80} Ewes 150-180{3eb0ad736e9e4720aec14cdefc5dfea1cbbf72ece838d203e0a2440931676d80}
Average birthweight Singles 4 – 6 kg Twins 3 – 5 kg
Average adult bodyweight Ewes 80kg Rams 120kg

Breed Description

Hampshire Down wool is white, average staple length 9cm, dense and fine texture, being graded to 56-60’s (Bradford count). Rams clip about 6.75kg, yearling ewes 4.5kg and older ewes 2.7kg of wool. The principal use is for fine felts and blending with other wools owing to its good wearing quality.

Face and ears are a rich dark brown, approaching black, with wool over the poll and forehead. Wool is white with an average staple length. Body deep and symmetrical with ribs well sprung, broad, straight back, flat loins, wide rump and deep heavily muscled hind legs and breast. Legs beingstrongly jointed and powerful are set well apart.