Suffolk sheep: characteristics and breeding

Suffolk sheep: characteristics and breeding

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Suffolk sheep, sheep that owe much of their popularity, still limited, to the film "Babe, the brave pig”Which sees them among the nicest extras. The Suffolk sheep is a docile and peaceful animal. In this article of mine we will see what its features are and other useful information.

Suffolk sheep: characteristics

Originally from Great Britain, the Suffolk Sheep is a large animal, contextualizing this assessment to the dimensions relative to the world of sheep, and is hornless. Its abundant and candid fleece contrasts with the head and limbs which are black and "naked", so much so that it looks just out of the pen of a cartoonist.

Its body looks like a cylinder, it is muscular and compact, robust also because it is a great grazer. If you've never met one in person Suffolk sheep, imagine it about 75-80 cm high, with a weight which may vary from 85 kg of the leanest female to 120 kg of the most massive male.

Suffolk sheep for meat

This breed exists since the mid-nineteenth century and the first lands where it was raised are those located in Scotland, Wales, Ireland and North America. Born from a cross between Southdown and Norfolk, from the first it inherited the quality of the meat and wool, from the other rusticity.

That's to whom we owe the excellent quality of the meat of Suffolk sheep, even we Italians have noticed this and we breed them both at an amateur level and at a professional level, where we can offer them fertile pastures.

Suffolk sheep: breeding

To raise Suffolk Sheep it is necessary to know the guidelines that apply in general to sheep, you can find them in the article "Raising sheep". The theme must then be explored taking into account that these Suffolk they are excellent meat producers, particularly appreciated compared to their competitors because they are fertile, with good breastfeeding capacity and quick to grow.

We take into account that after 70 days of life the lambs can exceed 30 kg of live weight. The prolificacy rate of the Suffolk Sheep it is estimated at around 165%, often the births are twins, and in that case the babies weigh about 4.5 kg, if instead they are born only children, then they can even reach 5.5 kg. Even the wool they produce, not bad at all, which is one more reason to breed them professionally.

As for the ideal and sustainable number of heads in relation to the surface of the land, an ideal proportion is 3-5 heads per hectare.

In the event that grass begins to run out, it is necessary to supplement the feeding of the Suffolk sheep with hay and other specific feeds.

The shift grazing technique for the breeding of Suffolk sheep

The recommended method for raising Suffolk sheep is that of shifts pasture. This technique involves dividing the available area into three sectors in which to raise the animals, delimiting them with appropriate fences and with a net for sheep with an average height of 1.2 meters.

To complete the ideal layout of the pasture, it will then be necessary to create an area equipped with a drinking trough, a manger and a forage rack to be made accessible from the three areas.

If it were possible, it would also be good to provide for the presence of some shaded areas where the sheep can shelter in the hottest summer periods.

Suffolk sheep farms in Italy

Among the best Suffolk sheep farms in Italy we point out the one created and managed by Pietro Filippone who has dedicated himself to this passion for over 15 years, in the countryside of Sandigliano, in the Biellese area.

Find more information about his breeding on his official website:

Suffolk sheep: ideal habitat

The Suffolk sheep is not afraid of freezing temperatures and adverse weather. It does not fear the rain so much that it totally ignores it without even looking for shelter.

The very thick coat warms them to such an extent that it is even possible to see them lying peacefully on snow-covered meadows.

Suffolk sheep: diseases

One of the most frequent diseases for sheep, Suffolk or of another race, is the brucellosis, infectious and which also affects goats, cattle, pigs, dogs and other animals causing abortions during the second half of gestation. Also there Vibrant can affect the Suffolk sheep and like the previous one it can lead to abortion, but during the last month of pregnancy.

The third frequent cause of abortion for sheep is Salmonella which can kill even healthy born lambs that contract it in their first months of life. Between symptoms of this pathology includes diarrhea and animals that contract it can die of septicemia.

Suffolk sheep: photo

Maremma shepherds to protect a Suffolk sheep farm

An ideal solution to protect a herd of Suffolk sheep is to have a guard dog, such as the Maremma shepherd.

These are territorial dogs that are ideal for defending the flock from attack by wolves and to keep strangers and malicious people at bay. These dogs regard sheep as their "property" or perhaps even better as part of their community and for this reason they are willing to do anything to defend the flock.

Similarly to Suffolk sheep they are not afraid of rain and cold and are therefore also ideal companions for the flock.

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Video: Farrer White Suffolk Breeding Program Achieving a product of distinction (August 2022).