By Jennie Curtis
At Roogulli Farm in the NSW Southern Tablelands, Jennie and Chris Curtis breed smaller-type Southdowns, which are marketed as Babydoll sheep. Sheep breed in the Roogulli stud are sold all over Australia to people running small farms who want dual purpose, easy handling small sheep that are also a bit fun to have around.
Advantages of the Babydoll-type of Southdown that Jennie sees for small farms are their easy going temperament, attractive appearance, springy Downs fleece which is useful for specialist fibre craft, efficient use of feed and well-muscled body for good eating with smaller cuts suited to home butchering.
After buying some crossbred Southdown Merino ewe lambs in 2015 and a purebred Babydoll-type Southdown ram in 2016, Jennie and Chris have gradually learned more about managing and breeding sheep. Over the past two years they have intentionally gathered a wide range of smaller Southdown and Babydoll-type genetics to work with in their breeding program as they work towards breeding a more consistent type. They appreciate the help and encouragement provided by other Southdown breeders in this process and their sharing of their expertise.
The breeding goal of this small stud is to combine the smaller animal size found in older Southdown genetics with significant improvements achieved in the last few decades of Southdown breeding in Australia. Roogulli stud aims to breed small but meaty sheep with conformation to be proud of, good fertility, easy lambing, good mothering, good lamb survival, resistance to worms, a sensible amount of wool on faces and reduced crutch cover (just a short list!). A quality Downs fleece and high meat quality are also valued.
Roogulli Farm dual registers their sheep as Southdowns and Babydolls to record their purebred Southdown origins and their compliance with the Babydoll breed standard including measuring under 62cm high at the shoulder.
Jennie hopes that one day they will be producing sheep suited to a different market from the larger terminal sire type of Southdown, that all Southdown breeders will recognise as having value.