The Hampshire Down breed of sheep originated about 80 years ago by a cross of South Downs on the horned, white-faced sheep which had for ages been native of the open, untilled, hilly stretch of land known as the Hampshire Downs, in the county of that name bordering on the English Channel, in the South of England. From time immemorial the South Downs had dark brown or black legs, matured early, produced the best of mutton and a fine quality of medium wool. The original Hampshire was larger, coarser, but hardier, slower to mature, with inferior flesh, and a longer but coarser wool. The South Down has always been remarkable for its power of transmitting its special characteristics to its progeny by other kinds of sheep, and hence it soon impressed its own characteristics on its progeny by the Hampshire. The horns of the original breed have disappeared; the face and legs have become dark, the frame has become more compact, the bones smaller, the back broader and straighter, the legs shorter, and the flesh and wool of better quality, while the superior hardiness and greater size, as well as the large head and Roman nose of the old breed, still remain. The Hampshires of to-day mature early and fatten readily.
They clip from six to seven pounds of wool, suitable for combing, which is longer than South Down wool, but less fine. The mutton has a desirable proportion of fat and lean, and is juicy and fine flavored. The lambs are of large size and are usually dropped early and fed for market. Indeed, the Hampshire may be considered a larger and trifle coarser and hardier South Down. The breed is occasionally crossed with Cotswolds, when it produces a wool more valuable for worsted manufacturers than the pure Cotswold. Indeed, there is little doubt that in addition to South Down, the Hampshire has a dash of Cotswold blood in its composition. Considerable importations of the breed have been made into this country, but it has not become so popular as the South Down and some other English breeds. The excellent group shown is owned by Mr. James Wood, of Mount Kisco, New York. - Rural New-Yorker.