Breed Characteristics

Outstanding Characteristics Of The Dorper

These important characteristics are essential for proper selection. We don’t have to wonder how to achieve these as they are bred into the breed over the past 60 years. It is therefore our obligation to future generations, not to breed these characteristics out or select them out.

So when you do your selection keep the following in mind:

(1) Meat qualities
(2) High production rate (Fertility)
(3) Reproduction (Twins)
(4) Weight gain
(5) Carcass quality

Dorper Sheep

It is claimed that the Dorper can lamb three times in two years. To achieve this, remember the following:

(1) The ewe background is important. Fertility of an ewe is influenced by the conditions in the first 12 weeks of her life cycle. (Prof. van Niekerk – University of Pretoria).
(2) Feeding and condition of ewes.
(3) Management, size of camps, percentage rams to ewes.
(4) Fertility, condition and libido of rams.
(5) The mating season should be controlled. Do not mate ewes during the lowest conception time. The Dorper has a long breeding season but also has a short, low-conception period, which varies from area to area.

Adaptability

This is measured by the well being of the animal and the ability to produce and reproduce under any condition, and is determined by the following:

(1) Mortality rate
(2) Reproduction tempo
(3) Growth rate

Dorper Sheep


The ewe should keep reasonable condition while raising her lamb to be ready for the next mating cycle. However, be fair to your animals, especially ewes raising multiple lambs, under drought and poor grazing conditions - let nature help you to select for this important aspect.

Hardiness

The Dorper was originally bred to produce under arid conditions. Now also farmed in ultra cold, snow and wet conditions. Under these conditions the animal must be able to survive and resist health hazards and diseases. You can select for hardiness through observation and record keeping.

Veld Utilization

The Dorper is outstanding in this aspect and being non-selective in its grazing habits, means that it will fully utilize virtually any type of grazing or roughage. This trait also makes the breed excellent when participating in any controlled grazing improvement program. It is an absolute fallacy that the Dorper “tramples” the pastures (veld). It is strictly the farmers’ responsibility to control his stocking rate.

Dorper Sheep


According to the research done by Prof. Tertius Brand of the Elsenburg Agric Research Centre, who received all research on diet selection etc. of Dorpers, there is a lack of information on the breed under more intensive conditions, but it seems clear that Dorpers are less selective feeders than other breeds. They are bigger than most wool sheep, but they consume less herbage per metabolic size and can actually be used to improve veld conditions. Obviously, the farmers’ stocking rate must be correct.

1) Dorpers utilize shrubs and bushes to a greater extent, but take in less grass than Merino-types.

2) They walk less to select food or find a suitable spot to graze. The result is a shorter grazing time, fewer separate grazing periods, less trampling.

Dorper Sheep


Animals can be compared by means of the so called relative trampling index, which uses body weight, sleeping length, spoor size and distance walked to determine the potential ability to disturb the soil surface. In various tests done around the country it was proven that Dorpers take in lower quality materials, thus improving veld conditions. However, more research is needed under extensive conditions as well as on other behaviour aspects of this unique breed.

Dorper Sheep


Good Mothering Qualities

The Dorper ewe will nourish her lambs under difficult conditions. When the ewes are left alone they will lamb easily, and will retain and look after their lambs. Give them enough space with good grazing, clean water, etc. Furthermore, they will give you a good return on your investment. The Dorper does not easily lose their lambs, even if they are handled soon after lambing. The mortality rate in the Dorper is low.

Easy Care

Dorpers are easy care animals. With the correct covering on the animal, you are ensured of good demand for breeding material as no shearing is required. Dorpers and White Dorpers generate additional income from the sale of skins.

Dorper Sheep

Dorper Skins

  • Dorper skins are regarded among the best in the world. It has no wrinkles and a smooth grain. It is used in the manufacture of high quality leather clothes and gloves.

  • These skins are a sought-after export product, and few Dorper skins are used locally in the leather industry. Pickled Dorper skins are mostly sold for export at good prices.

  • The grain of the skin takes up half of the total thickness of the skin. Glands are not well developed in the grain, as the grain consists of a network of strong collagen fibres. This network of collagen fibres makes the leather exceptionally strong. Collagen is the material that forms the leather.

  • A sheep skin with a lot of hair closely resembles a goatskin. The fibers of a Dorperskin are delicate, but the skin structure is tighter and denser than that of goatskins or wool skins. The weave angle of Dorper skin fibres is flat – a feature that strengthens the leather further.

General appearance of the Dorper: The appearance of the Dorper appeals to many people, and it is easy to care about something that pleases the eye.

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