The BABYDOLL Southdown is a sheep of the early Southdown type imported into the U.S. and seen in England in the 1800's through the early 1900's. They are 18" to 24" at the shoulder and display the original Southdown type and characteristics. The Southdown breed of sheep originated in the South "Downs" of Sussex County, England, and is one of the oldest of the Down breeds. English farms kept these sheep for their flavorful meat and fine fleece. By the 1960's, producers and consumers desired larger carcasses, and the smaller sheep were crossed with larger sheep to produce a larger Southdown which make up the background of the larger American Southdown which are not to be confused with the BABYDOLL Southdown. Around 1990, small flocks of the smaller type Southdowns were gathered up and labeled Olde English BABYDOLL Southdown to differentiate them from the larger modern American Southdown.
Today, known simply as BABYDOLL Southdown, the BABYDOLL sells well in the companion and 4-H markets and is valued in vineyards, sustainable agriculture, and organic farming. Their wool is favored among spinners and fiber artists who enjoy fine wool with remarkable spring. They also have select carcass value for the table, an attribute not shared by most other miniature breeds. Today's breeders believe breed preservation is of utmost importance and strive to keep this wonderful breed of sheep from forever being lost.
The association was conceptually formed in the winter of 2001 - there was a need to fill the missing link between sole-proprietor owned associations and one encouraging member participation, giving members the opportunity to meet and exchange information for the purpose of making better breeding choices. The association became certified as a non-profit corporation on June 10, 2003. The association is run by the volunteer Board of Directors (BoD) elected by the membership to make decisions on their behalf. The BoD is comprised of a president, vice-president, secretary, treasurer, and members-at-large. These positions are elected every three years. Every active adult member is eligible to run for any of these voluntary positions. Members are encouraged to present concerns or ideas for the BoD to address regarding the association and the BABYDOLL Southdown sheep. The BoD thoroughly discusses topics and votes on issues requiring action.
The protection and promotion of the BABYDOLL Southdown sheep is at an important phase in its survival; by reason of, agriculture is moving into a newer phase of ranching and farming and associations are about groups of people, not sole proprieties. We have seen the shrinking of the ranch and family farm. Large ranches are dividing into smaller tracts of land and more people are moving from populated cities to the countryside. One of the first purchases a small landowner makes is a farm animal. The miniature livestock have an important place in the new rural lifestyle; in view of that, we would like to bring your attention to the importance of a livestock association and registry encouraging the membership's participation. The association is not about feathering one person's ego or pocketbook.
If an association and registry does not come forth with fortitude and direction for the BABYDOLL Southdown, we may end up with a variety of mixed or unknown genetics, general appearances trending toward small, scrawny and less muscular carcass. The result is very obvious: farmers and breeders could proceed without direction resulting in no protection for the breed.
An association should do more than just collect membership dues and registration money for your animal. An association is a group not a sole proprietor. A livestock association should not be about benefiting an individual, but be for the good of all who pay membership dues, and ultimately, for the benefit of the animal. An association should be about sharing information on raising sheep.
It is, therefore, with great effort and several individual's exuberance and determination the North American BABYDOLL Southdown Sheep Association and Registry incorporated on June 10, 2003, as a non-profit corporation. It seeks no profit for any one individual or group.