Origin & History
The original Suffolks were the result of crossing Southdown rams on Norfolk Horned ewes. Apparently the product of this cross was a great improvement over either one of the parents. Although the Suffolk was a recognised breed as early as 1810, the flock book was not closed until much later.
The upland regions of Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridge on the southeastern coast of England are very rugged and forage is sparse. It was this dry, cold and windy area in which the Norfolk breed adapted itself to travelling great distances for food, thereby developing a superbly muscular body.
Fertility, hardiness and activity were inherited from the Norfolk, and the excellent conformation came from the Southdown. Although originally known as 'Blackfaces', in 1859 the new breed was recognised by the Royal Agricultural Society of England and called 'Suffolk'.
In 1913 one ram and six ewes were imported into Canterbury by Mr George Gould to meet specialist requirements in the meat trade of fast growth and high flesh to fat ratio. Steady growth in popularity has seen a rapid progression in flock numbers from 176 ewes in 9 registered flocks in 1940 to 360 registered flocks and 17,168 ewes in 1983, and in 2000 now there are 240 registered flocks comprising 19,000 ewes. Suffolks are now the most dominant sheep meat breed throughout the world. Suffolk cross lambs are ideally suited to today's trade requirements. They have an excellent lean meat ratio, large eye muscle, well-muscled legs, and succulent, well-textured meat.