Dorper: Frequently Asked Questions
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 was stabilized with the infusion of the African Van Rooy breed.
Do all Dorper sheep shed their fleeces?
No - not all purebred Dorpers will 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 and they do not generally shed simultaneously. Cross bred Dorpers will shed depending on their percentage of Dorper genetics, the breed of ewe used to grade up from (Romney descendants in general are poorer shedders) and the shedding ability of the Dorper rams used during the upgrading process.
Do you need to pick up the wool from around the paddocks?
No – the fleece usually falls off in small pieces – it is like a horse or cattle beast losing its winter coat. The fleece 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 some 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 in New Zealand so treatment may be required. As the breed is becoming more established in NZ they are continuing to adapt to the environment and it is intended with further selective breeding the current feet problems will be a thing of the past. It is however preferable to avoid grazing Dorper sheep on wet paddocks and on long, lush grass.
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 may die.
Do Dorper sheep get fly strike?
In general Dorpers don’t get fly struck but there has been incidents of fly strike particularly with the Aussie fly which lays its eggs on the shoulders. With the Dorpers clean breech there isn’t much material available for the flies to lay their eggs so as a rule they don’t get struck around their behinds.
What markings should my Dorper (Black-headed) Sheep have?
To be registered as a stud sheep under the NZ Dorper Breed standards the Dorper should be a white sheep with black confined to the head and neck. In general a small black spot or patch (under 10x20cm) on the body is allowable. A white blaze on the head should not extend forward of the horn base on the head.
Dorper crossbred sheep will be black or black and white in colour. Generally the more Dorper genes the cross bred sheep has the more closely they will resemble a pure bred Dorper. All crossbred and purebred White Dorper sheep should be completely white. However a red gene in the breed can produce red, brown or orange markings on the sheep.
For more detailed information on Dorper characteristics please refer to the Dorper Characteristics page on this website.
Will Dorpers breed all year around?
Dorper have the ability to breed all-year around, however getting ewes in lamb during spring is certainly more difficult. This trait allows Dorper ewes to have 3 sets of lambs in 2 years. This has obvious productivity benefits but does require ewes to be well fed and managed.
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 this 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-farm” 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. These could cost you anywhere from $100 to $300 per animal.
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. These could cost you anything from $500 + each.
It is worth noting that “4th Cross upgraded” sheep are able to be put forward for registration after passing inspection.
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 NZ Sheep Breeders Association (NZSBA) will be 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 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?
Sheep must be purchased from a registered breeder, have passed inspection and a transfer made through the NZSBA before they can be registered as a stud quality animal. ‘Papers’ only show the breeding pedigree of the animal and give no indication of quality or proof of registration as a stud animal.
For further information please refer to other pages on this website.
The above questions and answers are meant as a guide only – there will always be exceptions to the rules. The NZ Dorper Breed Society will not be held responsible for any errors or omissions.
If you have any further questions please email to: firstname.lastname@example.org or contact one of the registered breeders or members of the Dorper Breed Committee listed on the Dorper Breeders page on this website.