What is the difference between the Dorper (blackhead) and the White Dorper?
Both types originated from the original cross of the Blackheaded Persian and the Dorset Horn. The Dorper (blackhead) is a direct descendent of that original cross while the White Dorper had the African Van Rooy breed infused into it to stabilize the white genes.
Do all Dorper sheep shed their fleeces?
No - not all purebred Dorpers shed their fleece. Some will completely shed, some will shed about 50% (the fleece shedding half way up their sides) and some may only shed on their shoulders and flanks but they should all have clean bellies, breeches and down the underside of the neck and chest.
Dorpers generally shed during spring and summer but they will not all shed simultaneously.
Do you need to pick up the wool from around the paddocks?
No – the wool usually falls off in small lots – it is like a horse or cattle beast losing its winter coat. The wool has no commercial value.
I have heard that Dorper sheep are easy care. What does this mean?
Dorpers can be “easier care” with their ability to shed their fleece doing away with the hassle of having to find a shearer. However like any animal they still require a certain amount of animal husbandry and cannot be just put in the paddock and left to their own devices. They need fresh water, feed, both grass and hay for roughage and standard sun/weather shelter.
Do they have issues with their feet?
Being desert sheep their feet do tend to grow faster than other traditional New Zealand breeds. It may be necessary to trim their feet occasionally to keep them tidy. The Dorper can also be susceptible to scald and footrot with the moist conditions and heavier soil types in some areas of New Zealand so treatment may be required. As the breed has established in NZ they are adapting to the environment and it is hoped with further selective breeding this will be a thing of the past.
Are Dorper sheep resistant to worms?
No Dorpers are not worm resistant but do tend to have a higher tolerance to a worm burden. Like any sheep breed, if they begin to scour they will require drenching - if they are showing signs of a worm burden they can rapidly lose condition and die.
Do Dorper sheep get fly strike?
In general Dorpers don’t get fly struck but there has been the odd reported incident particularly with the Aussie fly which lays it’s eggs on the shoulders. With the Dorpers clean breech there isn’t much material available for the flys to lay their eggs so as a rule they don’t get struck around their behinds.
If I want to buy some Dorpers where do I go?
It is recommended that you contact one or more of the registered breeders listed on the NZ Sheepbreeders website. You should also visit and view as many sheep as you can before buying. If you don’t know much about sheep it is recommended that you take along someone who has some knowledge to assist you. Most breeders will make private on property sales. As always with any purchase - remember it is a “buyer beware” situation.
What class of Dorpers should I buy – stud or commercial?
You need to know what you want to do with your sheep – if they are only to keep the grass under control or provide you with meat then you are better off to purchase commercial type sheep or crossbreds.
If you are keen to breed stud sheep then you will need to purchase quality sheep that have passed inspection – this means they are certified as being good quality and can be registered for stud breeding purposes.
What do I need to do to register my sheep?
If you purchase quality sheep with the purpose of forming your own stud you will need to purchase stock from a registered breeder. These sheep will need to have passed an inspection prior to you purchasing them. Once a sheep has passed an inspection the NZSBA is advised – if you are unsure of the status of any sheep please contact the office. If you in turn wish to on-sell registered sheep to a new breeder they will require a new inspection before being sold. The breeder is responsible for putting a transfer for the sheep through the NZSBA office so they can be recorded as belonging to your stud. The breeder will also provide you with breeding pedigrees of the sheep you have purchased and registered.
I bought some sheep and they have ‘papers’ with them? Does this mean they are registered and stud quality?
Unless the sheep are purchased from a registered breeder, have passed inspection and a transfer is made through the NZSBA the ‘papers’ are only their breeding pedigree.
What are the advantages of using a Dorper in a commercial farming situation?
Low birth weight but vigorous lambs means they are excellent for hogget mating.
The above questions and answers are meant as a guide only – there will always be exceptions to the rules. We will not be held responsible for any errors or omissions.