HISTORY & BACKGROUND

            The Dorper breed was developed in South Africa during the 1930's, by crossing the Dorset ram to the Black Headed Persian ewe, which was indigenous to Africa. This new breed was born out of a necessity to have sheep that would have good meat qualities, yet be able to thrive in the arid conditions of South Africa. Selection was pursued to produce top carcass characteristics as well as having high fertility and lambs that would grow out quickly. Dorpers were imported into North America in the mid 1990's. The Dorper and White Dorper are maintained as separate breeds, but they only differ in color. Bred for its lean, tender meat, its broad frame and ideal muscling, the Dorper is a very good forager, tolerant to a broad range of conditions, and capable of breeding year-round with increased lambing percentages as compared to wool-type sheep in studies at Texas A&M University. The breed is particularly well-suited for small growers since there is not a need to shear the sheep. Some growers are using these sheep to help maintain their properties rather than mowing grass and spraying weeds.

BREED

CHARACTERISTICS

Breed Standards

A well-balanced sheep with strong, deep, wide body and correct legs and feet. Rams must be well muscled and strong from the front to the back. Ewes must be lighter in front and getting bigger and heavier to the back (a wedge shape). A ewe must look feminine, with a feminine head and a long graceful neck. The sheep should be symmetrical and well proportioned. A calm temperament with a vigorous appearance is ideal.

2 tbsp.

Salt

Shoulders & Chest:

Shoulders firm, broad and strong with good muscling on the forearm for rams. A moderate protrusion of the brisket with correct foreleg placement and moderate width between the legs. Shoulders that appear loose, or a brisket that protrudes too much or too little, are faulty.

1½ cups

Butter

Head:

Strong and long with triangle shape. Eyes widely spaced, strong nose and strong mouth with well-fitted jaw. Long ears are preferable and are usually indicative of calmer sheep. A developed horn base or small horns are ideal on a ram. Heavy horns are undesirable. The head must be covered with short, dullish black hair in the Dorper and white hair in the White Dorper.

3 cups

Blueberries

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Barrel:

Long, deep and wide body. The sheep must have a long straight back and not a 'devil's grip'. A slight dip behind the shoulders is permissible. Ribs must be well sprung.

Legs:

Strong, well placed with strong pasterns and hooves not too widely split. The hocks must be strong without a tendency to turn in or out. X-legs, sickle, cow, or strait hocks are culling faults.

Neck:

Medium length, well fleshed, broad and well coupled in the ram...long and graceful in the ewe.

3 cups

Blueberries

1½ cups

Butter

3 cups

Flour

Hindquarter:

Long and wide rump. The inner and outer twist is to be well-fleshed and deep in rams.

Reproductive Organs:

Scrotum of the ram should not be too long and the testicles of equal size and not too small…reaching about half way to the ground. Well-shaped udder and reproductive organs in ewes.

1½ cups

Butter

3 cups

Flour

3 cups

Blueberries

Cover:

The ideal is a short, loose, light mixture of hair and wool and with a natural clean kemp (hair) underline in adult sheep.

3 cups

Blueberries

1½ cups

Butter

3 cups

Flour

Color & Pigmentation:

White Dorpers: 

A white sheep, fully pigmented around the eyes, under the tail, on the udder and the teats is the ideal. A limited number of other colored spots are permissible on the ears and underline.

Color & Pigmentation:

Dorpers: 

A white sheep with black confined to the head and neck is the ideal. Black spots, to a limited extent on the underline of the body and on the legs are permissible. Brown hair around the eyes, unpigmented teats, white under the tail or white hoofs are undesirable.

1½ cups

Butter

3 cups

Flour

3 cups

Blueberries