The Dorper Sheep
A Dorper is a fast growing meat producing sheep. The Dorper is an easy care animal that produces a short light coat of wool and hair that has a shedding quality in late spring and summer. It was developed in South Africa and is now the second most popular breed in that country.
This breed was developed by the crossing of a Dorset Horn x Blackhead Persian around the 1930s. The Blackhead Persian sheep, a hardy, fat-tailed desert breed from Arabia, brings to the Dorper its hardiness, thriftiness, adaptability, pigmentation and hair covering. It also brings remarkable fertility, with the ability to breed every eight months and to produce a high number of twins. In addition, the Persians have very valuable skins used in the production of fine leather products. The Dorset Horn rams crossed with Blackhead Persian ewes produced fast growing and heavily muscled lambs yielding very satisfactory economic returns under a variety of environmental conditions. The Dorper ewes from this cross were excellent mothers that could be bred in any season. The name 'Dorper' is a coupling of the first syllables of the parent breeds Dorset and Persian.
The White Dorper Sheep
Various breeders originally decided to concentrate on the breeding of white sheep, and these were bred out of the Dorset Horn x Van Rooy crossbred.The white sheep were first known as the “Dorsian” (or “Dorsie” in Afrikaans our native language). A separate Breeders’ Society was established, but it was later decided that it would be to the advantage of the breeders to affiliate with the Dorper Sheep Breeders’ Society, since the aim was to breed the same type of sheep as the Dorper with the exception of the color.
The breed is well adapted to survive in the arid extensive regions of South Africa. It has high fertility and maternal instinct, combined with high growth rates and hardiness. The modern day Dorper is numerically the second largest breed in South Africa with over 10 million head (over 1/3 of the total number of sheep). In recent years, the Dorper has become popular in the Middle East, China, Canada, Australia, South America, Mexico and the United States, where it is among the fastest growing breeds.