Southdown sheep, mutton breed of sheep originated on the South Downs of Sussex, England, and now raised throughout the world. It is a small sheep, the most thickset of all breeds, and it is valued for the meatiness of the lamb carcasses. The wool is of medium length and fine grade; it varies in color from gray to brown on the face and feet. The Southdown, one of the oldest English breeds, has been extensively used in improving other breeds; it was first imported to the United States in 1803 and has found acceptance in farm flock areas.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.