Sheep breed Dorper: features of the breed, description
Dorper sheep will be interesting to those farmers who want to breed these animals in order to get a large amount of tasty meat, since this variety belongs to the meat direction. But what exactly indicators should be expected from such sheep and what you should know about their rearing in the private economy - read in this article.
The African origin of the Dorper does not prevent them from breeding in Europe and Russia, in fact, despite the absence of a warm fur coating of the body, animals adapt perfectly even to subzero temperaturesthat scientists still cannot explain scientifically. In addition, sheep have many other interesting features that are directly related to their origin.
The reason for the emergence of a new breed of sheep in the Republic of South Africa in the 30s of the last century was a high demand for dietary meat, and given the small amount of greens for grazing animals, farmers needed a new meat and unpretentious breed in which there would be enough local scarce feed. To achieve this goal, sheep of several existing breeds were selected: dorset horns, Persian black-headed and fat-tailed sheep.
Each of them had a good set of positive qualities that should have been profitably combined in a new animal, which ultimately happened. Young growth of the new breed is actively growing and developing, rapidly gaining weight even in the hot conditions of the African shroudMoreover, a one or two-day absence of water does not affect the health of these animals. Dorperians entered Europe only thirty years later (in 1966), but due to their unpretentiousness they quickly spread to a variety of countries.
Did you know? For a long time, the breeders did not think about the name of the indicated breed of sheep and simply combined the names of the parental forms: the first syllable is from “dorsethorn”, and the second from “Persian black-headed”. By the way, from the latter, the animal inherited not only the letters of the name, but also a very spectacular color.
A few years later, their qualities were appreciated by farmers in America and Australia, and already in the XXI century, the breed Dorper began to breed actively in Canada, Russia and other similar climatic regions of the globe. It is noteworthy that the content of lambs in unheated pens in the cold season will not cause serious problems with their health.
The main characteristics of the breed
The most noticeable characteristics of any breed of animal are exterior data, but from the point of view of farmers it is much more important to learn about productive qualities, as well as about the general advantages and disadvantages of representatives of the chosen breed variety.
Appearance and description
All representatives of the dorper are large, harmoniously composed animals with a massive and slightly elongated body. Muscles are clearly visible on the hips and the back of the back, which is largely due to the short and sparse coat of wool (for the most part it consists of core hair and undercoat). The color of the coat varies from white to light gray or even black, but the color palette, as well as hair growth, can be uneven: the neck, chest and saddle of the sheep grow thicker, but on the stomach the hair is practically absent. The skin on the legs, trunk and neck is white, but on the head and in the upper neck area it is black and often folded. Legs are always short and bare.
In females, horns are completely absent, in sheep rarely grow and usually are two or three-centimeter tubercles. On the forehead of males, the fur curls in a manner of scribbling, while in sheep such an addition is weakly expressed or absent. There are two main subspecies of Dorper: the former have a black head with the same dark upper part, neck, and the latter are pure white and have a dark color at the genetic level. Small sheep in color completely repeat the appearance of adult representatives, resembling a reduced copy of them.
Dorper sheep have a life expectancy of no more than 15 years, but after 5–8 years of upkeep, it ceases to be justified: animals no longer gain weight. While in other sheep breeds, body weight depends on the quality of nutrition, dorper sheep quickly grow fat on meager feeds, often reaching 90–95 kg. Individual sheep can “grow” to 130–140 kg, but this is the exception rather than the rule.
Upon reaching one month, young animals already weigh about 12 kg, and especially well-fed - 25 kg. If we compare them with other lambs, then they are 2-3 times ahead of them in development. By the age of two months, the mass of a lamb reaches 40 kg, and at four months of age, small fortresses weigh about 55 kg. By the age of nine months, young males often reach 70 kg, which is why they often tend to cross with smaller females of other breeds. Good taste properties of meat in combination with a high rate of muscle building can be manifested in the second generation of such lambs.
Taste properties of sheep meat - at a high level and it is considered dietary. From a well-fed ram, the meat yield is at the level of 59% of the total weight of the animal. Fat in the muscle layer is evenly distributed, and not thick plates like in other varieties of lamb. Due to this feature, the muscular texture stands out against the background of other breeds - it is deprived of sharply smelling layers of yellowish fat.
In addition, the meat of this breed does not have a specific “lamb” flavor, and the cholesterol level in such products is minimized, therefore it is recommended to use it for children and people suffering from problems with the digestive system or cardiovascular ailments.
Advantages and disadvantages of the breed
Like other sheep breeds, the dorper has its advantages and disadvantages, although the latter are not so significant.
- The main advantages of keeping animals include:
- unpretentiousness to living conditions and leaving;
- high taste properties of meat;
- ease and speed of breeding sheep;
- standard multiplicity of females (one individual brings from two to five lambs per litter);
- good immunity and rapid growth of young animals;
- early puberty of sheep (about eight months for females and five for lambs);
- good resistance to helminths and parasites of the skin, which eliminates the need for frequent deworming of young animals and adults (this characteristic is fixed in animals at the genetic level).
Did you know? According to approximate estimates of scientists, the first sheep on Earth appeared about 6-7 thousand years ago, and began to spread around the globe from the territory of Turkey.
- Of the shortcomings of the breed, the most noticeable are:
- relatively high cost of animals;
- the impossibility of upkeep in elevated places (due to the love of height, they often fall from the upper tiers, hayfields, etc.).
In addition, some farmers include short wool and low milk yield, but, by and large, sheep can only be used in a narrow direction - for meat.
Each owner is interested in quickly gaining the mass of their sheep, so a properly balanced diet is considered one of the most important aspects of animal care. In the summer, sheep are usually fed twice a day: morning and evening, and during the day they themselves find on the pasture everything they need for themselves (you can add only root crops or concentrated feed). In the winter season, the diet of animals changes slightly and the number of feedings increases to 3-4 times a day.
In this case the basis of the daily diet are hay and straw, grain, bran, silage and root crops, which are usually prepared for feeding animals in the cold season. An alternative to nutritional mixtures are cereals from a mixture of different cereals, cleaning vegetables. It is useful to put salt blocks in stalls (or in one specific place), from which your wards will be able to get all the minerals they need in the licking process. This is especially important for pregnant females, as they always lack nutrients and vitamins.
As for drinking, the water should be in the stalls constantly, Moreover, if the pasture is far from the premises, then drinking bowls should be placed there. Despite the good immunity of dorper, one should not exclude the possibility of developing one of the common diseases, such as foot and mouth disease, brucellosis, infectious mastitis, smallpox. In addition, cases of rabies infection are sometimes found, especially if the sheep graze close to the forest strip.
Important! In winter, it is better to heat the water, as sheep can catch a cold due to the use of cold liquid.
The main reason for almost any problems is the insufficient attention of the owner to the livestock and ignoring the rules of hygiene, in particular when cleaning a permanent animal dwelling. For example, due to untimely cleaning of manure, they may develop hoof rot, not to mention possible fractures or dislocations of the limbs with an uncomfortable layout of the stall design. In case of any violation in the behavior of a particular individual, it must be immediately isolated from the rest of the livestock and shown to a veterinarian.
Thanks to the multiple pregnancy of females with the reproduction of Dorperians, there are no difficulties, moreover, the sheep themselves perfectly cope with labor and rarely require human intervention.
Correct postpartum care of the lambs and their further cultivation is much more important. taking into account the characteristics of the diet. In any case, in order to exclude possible problems, it is worthwhile to carefully study each of these processes.
In the historical homeland of Dorper sheep, free mating of individuals is practiced and upon reaching puberty, individual members of the herd find partners for themselves. Sheep gestation period lasts for 140-150 days, after which from two to five lambs are born, weighing 2-5 kg each.
Important! Problems with the amount of milk are more often observed in older individuals, after eight years of age. If such females give birth to a large number of lambs, then be prepared for artificial feeding.
The small head and the fragile structure of the skeleton of the newborn allows him to freely pass through the birth canal, and if there are no health problems, after 10 minutes a little sheep will show increased activity, constantly being with my mother. If, after half an hour, the baby did not get to his feet and did not get drunk on mother’s colostrum, then after a maximum of two hours he will have to milk the uterus and artificially drink the lamb (in an hour he should drink at least 50 ml of colostrum).
Females are always very caring, and they usually have enough milk for normal feeding of all born cubs. You can verify the well-being of young animals by regular observation: if the cubs are more than five days old, they sleep more and only wake up to eat, then everything is fine with them and they are full.
It’s best to grow small dorpers with a joint method, when they are in the uterine pen until two weeks old. and the uterus graze freely in the pasture, returning to the offspring every three hours for feeding.
Under such conditions, the mass of lambs increases rapidly and in 1 month they weigh 3-4 times more than at birth. Up to three months of age, feeding them with maternal milk is mandatory for them, after which you can take the young from the uterus and transfer them to a separate pen.
Due to the good adaptability of dorpers to dry and hot climates with a limited amount of vegetation, even young individuals have enough of this nutrition and they do not need grain during fattening. But with a limited amount of hay, switching to cereals is still possible, but it is extremely undesirable if you only need high-quality mutton (meat can change its taste).
Thoroughbred Dorper sheep are rarely found in Russia, since the high cost of young animals often scares off modern farmers. Adult breeding sheep can cost about $ 6,000, and the price of young animals reaches $ 1,500. For this reason, biomaterial or sheep embryos are often imported into the country, which is important not only for the Russian Federation, but also for Canada, Australia and the United States, where the described breed is very popular.
In general, such sheep are found in various countries, because they are equally well adapted both to the hot conditions of native Africa and to the frosty winters of the northern regions. If you believe the reviews of the breeders, then a standard uninsulated corral as a shelter, when growing dorper in the middle lane, will be more than enough, and if you add to this low demands on feed, it turns out to be an almost ideal animal for breeding.
Dorpers are ideal for those farmers who appreciate the high dietary properties of mutton. and they cannot afford to spend a lot of time caring for livestock: with a minimum of labor costs, you will always get a sufficient amount of meat products.
Hello. Dorper is not a bad meat breed. From the American point of view (the point is located precisely in Texas). I, if you allow me, will name two more breeds. If you are modest, you can say that it is no worse than Dorper. If you put aside modesty, it’s better .First - Bleu du Maine. Remarkable breed, wool of the highest quality. Sheep weight reaches 120 kg, ram weight - 180. Well and the second - Border Leicester, serious breed. At 21 weeks can gain weight over 70 kg. Again, wool. Meat of excellent quality. You can safely use it to improve other breeds. For beginner sheep farmers, especially Russian, in my opinion, it is better not to find the Jacob breed. Thank you.