Suffolks are Pam's favourite sheep. It is very unusual to have Suffolks, who are considered "soft sheep", on a hill farm. When Pam first introduced them, the neighbouring shepherds predicted that they "wouldn't do" at the Rhanich. The Suffolks are by far the biggest sheep at the Rhanich and they are now mostly crossed with Cheviots, although for many years, Pam had Suffolk tups and bread pure Suffolks as well.
The original Suffolks were the result of crossing Southdown rams on Norfolk Horned ewes. The Suffolk was a recognized breed as early as 1810.
In 1930, Southdowns were described as large sheep without horns, dark faces and legs, fine bones and long small necks. They were low set in front with high shoulders and light forequarters; however, their sides were good, rather broad in the loin, and were full in the thigh and twist. Today's Suffolk derives its meatiness and quality of wool from the old original British Southdown.
The Norfolk Horned sheep, now rare, were a wild and hardy breed. They were blackfaced, light, fleeced sheep. Both sexes were horned. 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.
In 1886, the English Suffolk Society was organized to provide registry service and to further develop the use of the breed. Through selection and careful breeding by many great English sheepmen, the Suffolks brought to this country retained the qualities for which they were originally mated.
Mature weights for Suffolk rams range from 250 to 350 pounds (113-159 kg), ewe weights vary from 180 to 250 pounds (81-113 kg). Fleece weights from mature ewe are between five and eight pounds (2.25-3.6 kg) with a yield of 50 to 62 percent.
Picture: top-Suffolk pensioner; bottom-Suffolk lamb