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Our Heritage Breeds


There are currently 10 heritage breeds of sheep in Australia: Lincoln, English Leicester, Cheviot, Southdown, Shropshire, Dorset Horn, Ryeland, Hampshire Down, Dorset Down and Romney.

They represent a rare piece of biodiversity, that once gone cannot be replaced, especially with the current border restrictions. They bring with them traits that have helped them last through the decades and allowed them to stand the test of time. Heritage breeds are noted for their robust health, foraging abilities, adaptation to climate changes, mothering instincts,

All ten of the heritage breeds arrived in Australia before 1945, with some arriving in the late 1800s, and all originated in the UK.











nine heritage sheep and their breeders

Since then the heritage breeds have had quite an impact:

  • Ryeland and Corriedale have been crossed with Dorset Horn to produce the Poll Dorset

  • Lincoln has been crossed with Merino to produce Corriedale

  • Lincoln was crossed with early Saxon Merino to produce Polwarth. A second crossback to Merino in the late 1800s became a true type Polwarth, described today as 3/4 Merino, 1/4 Lincoln

  • Southdown has been crossed with Texel to produce Aussiedown

  • Romney has been crossed with Cheviot to produce Perendale

  • Romney has been crossed with Cheviot to also produce Drysdale

  • Southdown has been crossed with Suffolk to produce South Suffolk

  • Dorset Down has been crossed with Southdown to produce the South Dorset Down


The heritage breeds have also been important in their own right as dominant sheep in the early days of the Australian sheep industry and still retain an important place. Importantly, they provide an ongoing source of diversity

L-R Cheviot, English Leicester, Lincoln, Dorset Down, Shropshire, Hampshire Down,

Dorset Horn, Romney and Southdown       (Ryeland not pictured) 

Breed Information

Lincoln sheep
Shropshire sheep
Dorset Down sheep
English Leicester sheep
Romney sheep
Ryeland sheep
Cheviot sheep
Southdown sheep
Dorset Horn sheep
Hampshire Down sheep
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