Origin & History

An English breed developed in 1830s by crossing the Cotswold with a forerunner of the Hampshire, and using the resulting cross-breeds to form the basis of the present-day breed. It first entered New Zealand in 1906, but generated little interest and died out. It was reintroduced in the 1980s, and was released from quarantine in 1990. The breed’s capacity to produce a large, meaty carcase for further processing has stimulated interest from the meat industry, and it also grows the most wool of any of the terminal sire breeds.

Oxford Ram hoggets © Graham Meadows Photography
Oxford Ram hoggets © Graham Meadows Photography

Breed Description

Polled. Brown face. Brown nostrils. Wool on poll and cheeks. Fleece short, Down type. Wool on legs. Black hooves.

The Oxford is the largest and fastest growing of all British breeds. Wool production is higher than any other Down breed and fecundity of purbreds high, matching the Border Leicester and Cheviot.

Fast early growth combined with lean carcases are the main productive advantages of the Oxford. Increased wool production in comparison with other Down breeds will also result in higher wool pull figures.

Place In the Industry

The Oxford will find an important place in the New Zealand industry as a terminal sire used over traditional longwool breeds, such as the Romney, Coopworth and Perendale. Faster growth will enable earlier kills. However, the Oxford is a very big breed and can also be grown to quite heavy weights with “acceptable” fat cover. It can be grown through to quite heavy carcase weights in comparison with the Romney and Coopworth.

The Oxford will have an advantage in growth rates and leanness right through the range of slaughter weights. The rapid early growth will make Oxford carcases suitable for the Beta trade, while the low fat cover in bigger, more mature lambs can be taken to higher slaughter weights than is possible with existing longwool breeds.

The Oxford will give advantages of rapid growth and increased wool production in comparison with other terminal sires available.

Oxford lamb © Graham Meadows Photography
Oxford lamb © Graham Meadows Photography
The Leader In Muscle Production

The Oxford is an attractive specialist terminal sire for prime lamb production. The breed possesses genes for fast growth rate, coupled with heavy, lean muscling on an above average body weight carcase.

Oxfords are renowned for producing cross-bred progeny, with a good wide loin that carries deep muscling, coupled with hindquarters that are always fully rounded.

In the production of early, well muscled lambs, the Oxford as a terminal sire, has few peers. All comparative trials have shown the Oxford as a growth rate leader.

Growth data for pure Oxford females under MAF quarantine, showed the ewe lambs to be 14% heavier than Finns at weaning and also at twelve months of age. The weaning and yearling weights for first-cross Oxford lambs were 5% heavier than for similar Suffolk, Texel and Border first-cross off-spring.

From a trial on 200 cross bred ram lambs, slaughtered at 29 weeks, the Oxford-cross were 7% leaner than Suffolk-cross.

Oxford Ewes © Graham Meadows Photography
Oxford Ewes © Graham Meadows Photography

Breed Classification

A large, heavy meat breed.

Rams used as terminal sires for prime lamb production.

Location: There are a limited number of stud flocks Rams: 86-106 kg (190-234 lb). (approximately 17), mainly in the South Island and the east of the North Island.

Bodyweight Wool

Ewes: 65-80 kg (143-176 lb)

Rams: 86-106 kg (190-234 lb)

Down type. High bulk, with pigmented points.

Fibre diameter: 33-37 microns.

Staple length: 100-150 mm (4-6 inches).

Fleece weight: Range 3-4.5 kg (6.6-10 lb)
Average 3.75 kg (8.2 lb).

Uses: Spinning.


Carcase large, with lean meat.


90-100 percent

About 400