Breeding Babydoll Southdown Sheep Information
How We Started Breeding Babydolls
We started breeding Babydolls in 2015, purchasing three ewes and one ram from the historic Babydoll Southdown stud, 'Hillgrove,' Victoria, Australia. 'Hillgrove' was established in 1921.
We initially saw a newspaper advertisement for Babydolls and having never heard of them before, investigated and visited two breeders. We were impressed by what we saw and followed this with a visit to 'Hillgrove' where we made our first purchase.
In our wildest dreams we never thought we would have the opportunity to purchase the entire 'Hillgrove' stud a few years later. Murray and Judy Peart, the owners of 'Hillgrove Stud' wished to retire, and offered us the stud in December 2018, which we accepted. In February 2019 we received permission from the Australian Stud Sheep Breeders Association (ASSBA) to use the name 'Hillgrove' as our stud prefix and consequently we no longer use our former prefix "Gully Green.'
Please contact us for more information on Babydoll Southdown Sheep in Australia
What Attracted Us to Babydolls?
We have farmed Dorper and White Dorper sheep for many years, loving their hardiness and intelligence. Dorpers are wonderful sheep to have in this area, especially in dry years when there is not much feed around and they are our main source of income.
However, we were looking for a hobby, something which we could have for a bit of a side-interest and Babydolls filled this gap, especially since our farm was already set up for sheep and we had the knowledge and capabilities to farm them successfully.
What are the Characteristics of Babydolls?
Babydoll Southdowns are lovely little sheep. They are smaller than the average sheep which makes them easier to handle, plus they have a wonderful, docile temperament. They are friendly and quiet and are ideal for older people or for people with children. They never try to escape from their paddock through fences. They don't have horns.
If you are looking for a sheep to graze under orchard trees or grapevines, the Babydoll is ideal. It can't graze very high on the plant because it can't stand up on its hind legs to eat the plant as other breeds can. They even naturally fertilise the soil!
Our Breeding Program
We originally started with only one ram and three ewes, but of course it is impossible to quickly grow a sizeable mob with this small number. This led us to investigate using Artificial Insermination (AI) and embryo transfer with the Babydolls and we located 'Murray River Genetics' also at Moama, who were happy to undertake and support us through the whole process.
We have used our Dorper or first cross Babydoll/Dorper ewes as the recipient ewes, our Babydoll ewes as the egg donors and have sourced two external Babydoll rams (with traceable Babydoll pedigrees) for the donor semen. One advantage of using AI and embryo transfer is the ewes all lamb at the same time which makes lambing management a breeze.
Please contact us for more information on Babydoll Southdown Sheep in Australia.
Do We Use 'Modern Southdown' Genetics in our Breeding Program?
We are very conscientious of using only those Babydolls with traceable pedigrees and who are registered with the Australian Sheep Breeder's Association (ASSBA.) All our Babydoll's pedigrees show they mostly come from 'Hillgrove Stud,' which is the oldest Babydoll Southdown stud in Australia. However, a number of years ago Hillgrove Stud used some Modern Southdown rams in their stud to increase the genetic pool available and as a result some of our Babydolls from Hillgrove Stud have some Modern genetics in their bloodlines from a number of generations ago. We are very conscious of this when working out our breeding program and try not to cross any ram with any ewe when both have Modern genetics in their bloodlines. The Modern Southdown characteristics will show up as, for example, taller with longer legs, longer necks and a cleaner face.
Due to the prevalence of Modern Southdowns in Australia today, the restrictions on importing semen or sheep from overseas and movement of sheep between states in Australia, and because many breeders of Babydolls have difficulty in locating Babydoll ewes, it is difficult to locate 'full-blood' Babydolls in Australia. It's up to the buyer to ask about the pedigrees of any Babydolls Southdowns offered for sale to ensure they meet the buyer's needs. Please contact us for more information on Babydoll Southdown Sheep in Australia.
Full-Blood and Pure: What do they mean?
A full-blood sheep is one that has always been of a particular breed and has never in its pedigree, been crossed with another breed.
A pure sheep is one which has been crossed with two different breeds and the resultant lamb crossed again for four generations for a ewe, and five generations for a ram*, until it shows all the characteristics of the desired breed and has been classed as pure by a registered sheep judge.
* Australian Stud Sheep Breeders Association (ASSBA) guidelines