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New Zealand: Rare
Importation: 1904, 1980s

Oxford Sheep

A Rare Breed of British Origin

Oxford ewe, 1909
Oxford ewe, 1909

      The Oxford Down breed was developed in Great Britain from an admixture of Cotswold, Hampshire and Southdown blood. It was mainly known as the Oxford Down, and was first exhibited at the Royal Windsor Show in 1851. It was said to hold "a leading position among the sheep breeds of Britain."

      The fleece of the Oxford is short, and the sheep has a brown face and legs covered in light brown wool. The breed is similar to the Shropshire but is larger in size and has a cleaner face – weights of up to 400 pounds (180 kilograms) for rams and over 200 pounds (90 kilograms) for ewes have been recorded in England.

      The breed was brought into New Zealand in 1904 and 1906 but generated little interest at that time and was not maintained. It was reintroduced in the 1980s and today there are some four to five hundred Oxford sheep in small flocks throughout the country, mainly on the east coasts of both main islands.

      Its principal use is as a sire for prime lamb production but it produces excellent meat in its own right.

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