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BREED DESCRIPTION

The Oxford Down ram has a bold, masculine head, well set on a strong neck; the poll is well covered with wool, and adorned by a 'top-knot'. The face a uniform dark colour, the ears of good length, the shoulder broad, with a broad breast well forward. A full, level back, the ribs well sprung, the barrel deep, thick, and long with straight underline. The legs are short and dark coloured, standing square and well apart. The mutton is firm, lean, and of excellent quality. The whole body is covered with wool of close texture, good length, and fine quality.

Oxford Down ram
(Photo courtesy of The Scottish Farmer)
Oxford Down ewe
(Photo courtesy of The Scottish Farmer)


WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN SELECTING A GOOD OXFORD DOWN

This information should be read in conjunction with the official breed description above and is intended to give those new to the breed an indication of what they should look for when selecting a good Oxford.

BODY

- A good Oxford Down must be a big, strong sheep with a large frame
- Good length, width and depth of barrel and good spring of rib
- Straight underline and full, level back
- Strong neck
- Shoulders not too wide (three fingers between shoulder blades)
- Broad breast, well forward and a full, rounded brisket
- Blocky appearance
- Correct below

HEAD & MOUTH
- Correct in mouth (teeth touch the pad)
- Strong and bold
- Wide across the nose (should fill the span of the hand)
- Face and ears dark/very dark chocolate brown, not truly black in colour
- Ears not large, should point straight out, back of ears often woolly
- Strong top-knot on poll
- No horns (scurs are a fault)
- White spot on nose common
- Wool blindness should be avoided
LEGS & FEET

- Strong bone
- A leg in each corner
- Front legs straight - not together at the knees, not turned in or out
- Rear legs not turned in or out at the hock
- Straight from behind, not posty from the side
- Strong pasterns, well up
- Legs move freely when walking, do not turn in or out
- Legs dark/very dark chocolate brown, not truly black in colour
- Legs well covered with wool

CONFORMATION
- Excellent gigots, full and deep
- Wide and deep across the loin
- Firm, even flesh all over body (not overfat - use condition scoring technique)
- Deep at the twist and thick at the dock
WOOL
- Free of dark wool
- Fine, dense wool of good staple
- Tight fleece (cannot close hand and grab wool)
HEALTH
- Cherry pink skin beneath the wool
- Bright, alert eye
CHARACTER
- Rams strong, bold and masculine, larger than ewes in size
- Ewes big, strong and bold
- Oxford Down breed type in the head
COMMERCIAL TRAITS
- Select lambs for very high growth rates
- Select ewes for milkiness, prolificacy and mothering ability