The UK story
The Dorper in England from 2005
The Viridian Dorpers were the first Dorper flock in the UK. This breeding flock was imported from New Zealand by a Berkshire organic farmer, Bernadette Dowling of Cranes Farm, East Garston, near Hungerford. The first Dorper lambs were born in the UK in September 2005.
The British Dorper Sheep Society was formed shortly afterwards.
There is no doubt that the British Dorper will differ slightly to accommodate the British climate as it already has done so in other countries, especially in Canada with its harsh winter climate.
Feedback from UK breeders is showing that Dorper-cross lambs are grading very well indeed…
Contender in the British sheep industry
As pedigree numbers are still quite low in the UK, it is envisaged that the Dorper will mainly be used for crossing with native breeds for now. This would be either in grading-up programmes or to produce top-quality composite breeding ewes along the lines of an easy-care type system to offset rising input and labour costs. In light of this and despite there being no value in its wool, the Dorper obviously has to be a major contender in the future of the British sheep industry.
Quality Dorper carcasses are renowned worldwide
Dorper-cross lambs are regularly winning carcass competitions in all the countries the breed has been introduced into in recent years. This means that the Dorper is becoming renowned worldwide for its quality carcass, conformation and early maturity.
Even though the UK already has some excellent terminal sire breeds available to sheep farmers, some of these breeds have lambing problems, producing additional veterinary expenses.
Dorper births are usually completely trouble free due to their light bones, and with their dense hair coat, natural hardiness and amazing vigour they quite literally “hit the floor running”. Most lambs are on their feet within 5 minutes of birth, and suckle within 15 minutes.
Dorpers adapt and flourish
Dorpers were bred to adapt and flourish under varying conditions; from severe drought to extreme cold and wet, and under these conditions they must be able to survive and resist disease.
The females are excellent mothers, with a plentiful supply of milk; all this along with no shearing or crutching and have a high resistance to fly strike (incidents have rarely been reported), as well as no or very little incidence of ewes becoming overthrown.
Dorper rams have a mature bodyweight of approx 100-110 kgs, with ewes coming in at 65-75 kgs. They are polyoestrus (will breed all year round), with rams having a very high libido.
Early feedback from UK breeders shows that Dorper-cross lambs are grading very well indeed, with R3L being a common place grade and U grades easily obtainable depending on the breed of ewe.
With excellent feed conversion, growth rates and a skin twice the thickness and strength of most other breeds, they produce the world-renowned “Cape Glovers” leather.
With wool now being a burden rather than a bonus, go on, make life easier for yourself.
When purchasing pedigree stock always check that the animal matches the details on the certificate - if no certificate is available take note of all ear numbers and contact the Registrar to check if the animal is registered before you purchase.