In 1977, Dr. Ewan Roberts embarked on a pioneering breeding program at the University of New South Wales in Australia with the ambitious aim of creating a terminal sire breed of sheep that combined the desirable traits of the Suffolk breed with distinct visual characteristics. His vision was to develop a breed with the robust confirmation, structure, and rapid growth of the Suffolk, while introducing a striking white coloration on the head and legs.
To achieve this goal, Dr. Roberts initiated a selective crossbreeding program. The initial crosses involved mating Suffolk sheep with Polled Dorset and separately with Border Leicester. These carefully planned matings aimed to incorporate the desired traits from each parental breed while eliminating undesirable characteristics.
Over subsequent generations, designated as F2 and beyond, rigorous selection criteria were applied. The primary focus was to eliminate the presence of black points typically seen in Suffolk sheep and to emphasize traits associated with increased growth rates and muscular development.
The result of this innovative breeding program was the White Suffolk sheep breed. White Suffolks bear a striking resemblance to their Suffolk ancestors in terms of body structure and confirmation. However, they are distinguished by their distinct white face and legs, a departure from the dark points characteristic of Suffolk sheep. The White Suffolk breed stands as a testament to Dr. Roberts' dedication to genetic improvement and his pioneering efforts in sheep breeding.