In the 1930s the need arose for a sheep breed which could produce fast growing lambs with a high quality carcass under extensive conditions. Originally bred for the arid regions of South Africa, Dorpers originate from the cross breeding of Blackhead Persian ewes with a Dorset Horn ram. Later some Van Rooy genetics were introduced to white variants to breed the White Dorper.
Introduced to Australia in mid-1990s, White Dorper and Dorper numbers have been rapidly growing, due to their potential to adapt to the many varying climates and grazing conditions that Australia has to offer.
Dorpers were introduced into Australia in 1996 with the release of genetics from South Africa’s leading studs sold as embryo’s in Australia. Dorpers and other African breeds introduced at the same time received opposition from the mainstream industry, however once the Australian industry understood the benefits the Dorper and White Dorper could contribute to their lamb enterprise the breed met with spirited demand. Dorper’s have thrived in the Australian environment, seeing rapid uptake of the breed in the lamb industry. The Dorper’s quick growth rate and the excellent muscularity of the breed combined with its maternal attributes and management ease, has seen Dorper and White Dorper numbers rapidly increase while overall Australian sheep numbers have decreased from 144 million in 1999 to 67 million in 2019.
Australian breeders have imported further genetic lines from South Africa and Namibia. As in other livestock breeds our members have used these imports to develop the Australian Dorper and White Dorper to a standard where our genetics are sought after worldwide. Exports shipments of the Dorper breeds have been made to the Americas, China, Russia as well other Asian, Pacific and European countries.
With rising production costs and labour shortages in the Australian Rural Industry the Dorper and White Dorper has a valuable role in the Australian sheep industry.