Billings Farm maintains a small flock of registered Southdown sheep, a breed prized for their high-quality meat and excellent fleece. The average ewe weighs about 150 pounds. Docile and friendly with strong maternal instincts, their easy going nature makes them well suited to close contact with humans.
During the first half of the 19th century, sheep dominated most farms, outnumbering both cows and people and helping to fuel the woolen mill industry. By the time Southdowns were first purchased by the farm back in the 1870s, the conversion to dairy cattle was already underway. Billings’s flock of Southdowns quickly became one of the best in the state. By the early 20th century, there were several hundred sheep at the Farm.
The historical importance of Southdowns at the Billings Farm and the overall impact of sheep farming in 19th century Vermont is often overlooked and underestimated. Today, we maintain a flock of between six and ten breeding ewes and a lively group of lambs born each spring.