Breed Characteristics

 

Intelligence:

The Dorper is a smart, intelligent sheep that is easy to work. It is generally easy to handle, free moving and usually not aggressive. Dorpers definitely have their own unique personalities.

Hardiness:

Able to adapt to the environment, either hot or cold climate. Does well under harsh, extensive conditions, as in more intensive operations.

Grazing Habits:

Dorpers are non-selective grazers. They browse in a similar manner to a goat and have the ability to graze at a higher level than traditional sheep. They are productive in areas where other breeds could not survive.

Non-Seasonal Breeding:

Will breed at any time of year with the ability to produce lambs three times in two years.

Fertility and Mothering:

Excellent mothers who produce good quantities of milk. They are very fertile, generally a primipara (first ‘lamber’) will have one lamb, but twins and triplets are common in older, experienced ewes. Ewe lambs can be bred at 8-10 months of age.

Growth Rates:

The growth rate in this breed is exceptional. Lambs are vigorous and have high survivability. Under good conditions lambs are able to reach 80 lb live weight in 3.5 to 4 months. The lambs are excellent feed converters; they put all their energy into meat production. Mature rams average 240-275 lbs. Mature ewes reach 155-200 lbs.

Conformation:

Well put-together carcasses with good fat distribution.

Early Maturity:

Dorpers mature early sexually, some ram lambs can begin to work at four to five months, and ewes can begin cycling at 5 months of age. Normal breeding age for ewes is eight to 10 months.

   

Parasite Tolerance:

The Dorper is not resistant to parasites, but appears to have a higher tolerance to internal parasites than most other breeds. This allows for less drenching and also makes the Dorper a good proposition for organic farming.

Cross breeding:

This breed crosses well with commercial sheep of other breeds. In Texas, Dorpers are often crossed with Rambouillet or Katahdin.