Print this page

Dorper In New Zealand: The Next Step

White Dorper RamThe Dorper was introduced into New Zealand in 2000. The first Dorpers arrived from Australia as frozen embryos, and were closely followed by the first live animal imports.

There are currently 40 registered breeders (July 2013), and approximately 1,858 purebred animals.

At present all new genetics are sourced from Australia as Ministry of Primary Industries has a ban on sheep genetics being imported directly from South Africa.

Lifestyle Options

Lifestyle farmers are purchasing Dorper sheep as an easy care, low maintenance solution for their “5 acre” block. They make great commercial or pet animals being easy to handle.

As previously mentioned with the higher tolerance to internal and external parasites the Dorper is an ideal ‘lifestyle’ animal for people wanting to go organic.

Commercial Options

  • Terminal Sire - Many commercial farmers have used the Dorper as a terminal sire across their flock sheep and have had excellent results; both in percentage of lambs born and the ability of the Dorper crossbred lambs to achieve higher, earlier weaning weights than many of the more traditional sheep breeds.
  • The meat processing companies are showing a lot of interest in the breed and the resulting lambs. In 2001 there were several hundred half bred lambs slaughtered and the response from the companies has been very positive.

Breeding for New Zealand Conditions

Dorpers were originally bred for dry arid country. The breed is performing well under most New Zealand conditions so far but as stated earlier they will get better as time goes on. We have a wealth of experience in sheep breeding and a world beating pool of sheep genetics available to us for this process.

Breeding up programmes are currently under way, using Romneys, Perendales, Poll Dorset and Texels to name just a few. A breeding up programme has been approved by the Dorper Breeds Society which will allow breeders to follow a set path. After four generations and following an inspection, purebred status will be granted to bred up animals.

Potential Markets

Dorper CarcasesIn New Zealand commercial flocks are just being established. It is still early days and it will be several years before large numbers of commercial flocks are around. But in preparation for this, processors are being contacted and markets established. The early stages of marketing and branding Dorpers as a separate breed is underway.

Dorpers are well suited to domestic prime lamb markets and the export carcass market.
Dorpers continuous breeding season and fast growth rates offer producers with well managed breeding programs, the ability to fill shortages in the prime lamb market between April and November.