The Dorper sheep was developed in the 1930’s by the Department of Agriculture of South Africa when they did a crossing with a Dorset Horn Ram and Blackhead Persian ewes.
A need originates for a fairly good mutton sheep which could produce fast growing lambs on veld conditions with a good quality carcass. In the Western Cape, a prerequisite was that the ewes must be rutting in November-December in order to lamb from April. In the Karoo areas, the aim was to replace the fat-tail types with a breed with a more acceptable carcass. The initial need was to produce a sheep breed suitable to the demanding low rainfall areas of the Northern Province. A relatively easy-care sheep with an acceptable meat carcass had to be found for these difficult circumstances.
The most important characteristics required for the breed were probably the following:
Satisfactory lambing ability in the Autumn
Reasonably acceptable meat carcass
A good slaughter lamb on veld conditions at 4-5 months
Resistance against cold wind and rain, extremely high summer temperatures and radiation
A versatile sheep and good utilizer of tough grass and shrub veld
Satisfactory reproductive fitness
Easy care without lamb shearing problems
Fair amount of color and pigmentation
For more information and to buy the manuals contact the Dorper Sheep Breeders’ Society of South Africa.