Southdown Sheep Society, NZ

"The sheep with an illustrious past and a very bright future"

book-cover2015Author: Mark Medlicott 2015


I was asked to put an online history together about the Southdown Sheep Breed in New Zealand.

My initial research was to find out what information was still available, analyse it and decide on a process moving forward. I spoke with Southdown Society members, ram breeders, staff and people involved with the breed, especially in ‘historical’ times, researched numerous newspaper and magazine articles kept in various scrapbooks, or still available online, thus garnering my own knowledge of the development of the Society and importantly the breed itself.

The conclusion drawn from the initial research was that I decided to approach this history from a perspective of;

What are the major influences that pushed the NZ Southdown into its pre-eminent position amongst NZ meat breeds today?


This means that the history I have written below and over the next chapters is not a strict chronological report of committees, show awards, ram fairs, breeders and other data as listed since the establishment of the breed in New Zealand in 1863, but rather stories about breeders and people who have had a prominent influence on the Southdown breed as well as more information relevant to today’s breeders.

Some of these features include the establishment of an independent society in 1926, the influence of Henry Andrew and the Punchbowl breed for over fifty years, not only in New Zealand but around the world, the change of breed type in the 60s and subsequent downturn in flock numbers, misconceptions about what the breed was capable of, the work of the Science committee with Massey University in the 70s including the special meat cuts containers sent to the UK and the resulting changes to a more commercial product for the Southdown and a look at the prominent breeding influences over the last 30 years.

The history is interspersed with photos, links to further information and/or relevant articles or documents.

This is not a tome, but rather an expansive look at the breed and the path it has travelled, the forks in the road, the people who influenced changes in direction and how the breed has arrived where it is today, despite the downturn in sheep numbers in NZ, and how through influential people, and working smarter, the breed has been able to maintain and grow a better overall flock in the face of competition not only from other breeds, but the loss of breeding land in the lowlands to dairy which has had even more impact in this the 21st century.

I hope that the breeders of today and the future can use this history not only to increase their historical awareness, but perhaps also as a driver for themselves to further improve the Southdown, just as generations of stockmen gone by have improved today’s animal by educating themselves, experimenting, networking and adapting.


  1. The Preface
  2. The Background
  3. The Arrival in New Zealand & Beginnings
  4. The Southdown Sheep Society
  5. The Crisis
  6. Punchbowl and Mr HJ (Henry) Andrew
  7. The Scientific Committee
  8. The Carcase Evaluation Class – the Commercial Influence
  9. The Summary


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