Australian Sheep and Wool Show

Heritage Sheep Feature at the Australian Sheep and Wool Show in Bendigo, 14 to 16 July 2023

This year’s Australian Sheep and Wool Show in Bendigo was held from 14 to 16 July, featuring the 10 heritage breeds of sheep in Australia: Southdown, Dorset Horn, Hampshire Down; Cheviot, Lincoln, Ryeland, Romney, Dorset Down, Shropshire and English Leicester.

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

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 has been crossed with Merino to produce Polwath
  • 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

One of the judges at this year’s Australian Sheep and Wool Show was from the UK: Mr N J (James) Bond is a breeder of heritage sheep and is an accomplished judge of various of the breeds which will feature at this year’s show. He has Dorset Down and Wiltshire Horn sheep – an old English breed which contributed to the development, in the early 1800s – in Cornwall. He participates in the Signet Breeding program, which is similar to Lambplan in Australia

He judged several of the Heritage sheep breeds at Bendigo on Friday 14 July and was one of the judges for the interbred championships on Sunday 16 July.

In addition to sheep judging there was a display of one of each of the 10 heritage breeds. This display was accompanied by details of each of the breeds, a display of the wool and garments made from the wool of each breed, and other interesting and useful information about meat quality and about the genetics of sheep breeding and selection.