Originating from the hills of Shropshire in England in the 1840’s, the Shropshire breed was created by crossing local horned black faced sheep with sheep from nearby counties to create a hardy breed, that remained suitable to thrive on the downs, but docile enough for the smaller enclosures of Shropshire. Two Shropshire farmers, George Adney and Samuel Miere are credited with the development and promotion of the breed.
The breed was officially recognised by the Royal Agricultural Society in 1859 and the Shropshire Sheep Breeders Association was formed in 1882. In 1855 the first sheep were exported to the U.S. with the American Shropshire Registry being formed in 1884. By the early 1900’s the Shropshire Sheep was the most numerous breed in the U.S. and there was demand around the world for Shropshire rams. 70% of lamb exported from Australia at this time was bred from Shropshire rams.
The international demand for Shropshire Sheep declined with the outbreak of war combined with export restrictions imposed due to foot and mouth epidemics in the UK. This led to a severe decline in numbers and by the 1970’s they were declared a rare breed in most countries.
Fantastic promotional work by the SSBA has resulted in a resurgence of the breed in recent years. Its unique qualities and commercial attributes have seen flock numbers increase year on year again, as demand for this truly modern sheep grows worldwide.