The American Dorper sheep is a hair breed that originated in South Africa about 1946 (when the breed was finalized). Blackheaded Persian Ewes were bred with Dorset Horn rams and, over time, the result was a hardy meat sheep that shed hair rather than wool that needed to be shorn.
The meat from the Dorper is considered to be among the best – as far as Americans go. The British still enjoy their mutton, but Americans have not learned to enjoy the stronger taste all that much. The Dorper fits the bill for the more tender palate. If you’ve never had lamb, the American Lamb has published many tasty lamb dishes that you might want to try.
The Dorper, in my opinion, doesn’t necessarily always shed all of its wooly hair at once. My ewes shed little by little much as a dog does. It often helps to brush out their wool to speed the process. If any shearing needs to be done, it is usually just for the wool on the sheep’s back.
Dorpers are heat tolerant, but they also do very well in harsher climates such as ours in northern Michigan. Mature ewes can weigh as much as 210 pounds while a ram might reach 230 pounds. They have black heads with white bodies. There is an all white Dorper that bears that name – White Dorper.
Ewes can be bred almost any time of the year, cycling every couple of weeks. Their pregnancies are usually around 147 days.
Dorpers are very friendly and fun to have around the farm. They are a great meat variety but also make sweet pets.