Texas Dorpers and White Dorper sheep

 

Welcome to Southwest Texas. Yucca Lily Ranch is located near Ozona, Texas, in Crockett County, the second largest sheep-producing county in the United States. It is a semiarid area, averaging 18 inches annually, and is composed of wide valleys surrounded by 200-300 FT limestone mesas.

rock-house--21.jpg (104930 bytes)Mike's great-grandfather and his seven grown children moved here in the late 1880s after the threat of Native American Indians had faded. The ranch raised Rambouillet sheep for well over 100 years. We switched to Dorper sheep and White Dorper sheep in 1999 and now run over 1000 Fullblood and Purebred animals

 

A SHORT HISTORY OF DORPER SHEEP AND WHITE DORPER SHEEP

The Dorper is a South African meat and hair sheep breed developed in the 1930s. The Dorper sheep breeds were developed out of necessity to have an animal that could thrive in the harsh South African climate that only receives 4-6 inches of rain per year. Dorper Sheep thrive in low rainfall areas due to their adaptability and hardiness. Dorper sheep are superb browsers and utilize the available material in a pasture much better than other breeds. The light hair coat sheds spontaneously, and is ideal for our hot southwestern summers.


Yucca Lily Ranch Grand Champion and Reserve Grand Champion
White Dorper Ewe San Angelo Stock Show


National Champion Dorper Ram at the
American Dorper Sheep Breeders' National Show in Sedalia, MO
.

There are two Dorper sheep breeds, one with the characteristic black head [Dorpers] as well as one with a white head [White Dorpers]. Dorper sheep and White Dorper sheep begin to breed at seven months of age, and breed on a year round basis. Three lamb crops can usually be obtained from Dorper sheep in two years. A lambing percentage of 150% can frequently be obtained with Dorper sheep and White Dorper sheep. The Dorper lamb, being a meat sheep, grows rapidly, usually reaching a weaning weight of 80 pounds in 12 to 14 weeks.

Both Dorper and White Dorper sheep thrive under range conditions where other breeds barely survive. Average weight for a Dorper or White Dorper ewe is 160-220 pounds. An average Dorper or White Dorper ram weighs 225-265 pounds.

WHY DID WE MAKE THE CHANGE? NO SHEARING !!!

 

Even though we ranch in Crockett County, the 2nd largest sheep producing county in the US, it is a struggle to find shearers…and when we do it is usually only on the weekend. The covering on Dorpers sheds naturally.

Unfortunately, wool as a commercial product is a losing proposition these days. The downward spiral of prices and the costs of labor are disconcerting. The savings in time and labor in not having to shear is appreciable. Dorper sheep also do better in our hot Southwest climate because they shed when warm weather comes.

WHY DID WE MAKE THE CHANGE? LABOR!!!

In this day and time, the problems associated with finding good help are well known to all ranchers. Labor is much less time consuming with Dorper sheep. Though not quite as smart as goats (thank goodness), Dorpers are intelligent animals.

They move through gates easily, move quickly down alleys and will usually jump into trailers with a minimum of urging. Less stress in working your sheep is a blessing for both breeder and animal.

WHY DID WE MAKE THE CHANGE? HARDINESS!!!

The Dorper is a nonselective feeder, browsing like a goat and grazing like a sheep. The maternal influence [the Black Headed Persian] is a desert sheep that has thrived and reproduced under harsh conditions for centuries. It originated in what is now Somalia, East Africa. Also inherited from this desert ewe is the cooler hair type coat that sheds spontaneously.


Cedar tree browsed by Dorper sheep


Blackheaded Persian fat-rumped sheep

During periods of severe drought in southwest Texas, our Dorpers have maintained their weight remarkably, as well as reproducing regularly. Dorper sheep routinely eat almost anything as the following pictures show:

Agarita

Chinaberry

Cedar


Weeds


Catclaw


Cedar

WHY DID WE MAKE THE CHANGE? MEAT!!!

Profitability can return to an operation that concentrates its efforts where the money is… maximum pounds of lamb in a minimum amount of time. With decent conditions these Dorper lambs grow quickly, producing a muscular, lean carcass in 12-14 weeks. There is a nice 1/8-inch layer of fat below the skin that keeps the carcass moist in the shipping process, but very little of the intramuscular fat that discourages consumers. Dorpers usually top out in any carcass contest.


Four month old ¾ Dorper ewe lambs


Four 75% 90 lb White Dorper ewe lambs at three months of age.

Both ewes and lambs are good browsers as well as grazers… an underweight ewe is uncommon. These are data from weather lambs with retained ownership, fed at the Denis Feed Lot and then processed at Rancher’s Lamb in San Angelo.

 NUMBERADGYIELD %
50% Dorper Lambs
2760.53LBS51%
75% Dorper Lambs  1600.73LBS57%

Have you ever noticed how high lamb prices are in March, and then slowly slide when you are ready to hit the market? Dorpers breed year round, giving you the flexibility to time your lambs to meet your needs and market needs. We routinely lamb four to five times a year in bunches of 200-250.


Four weeks


100 days

WHY DID WE MAKE THE CHANGE? REPRODUCTION!!!


A typical Dorper bag.


White Dorper 50% ewe with four ewe lambs.

Since 1999, despite drought conditions, we have raised a lamb crop every 8-10 months. We breed our ewe lambs at 9-10 months of age and average an 85% lamb crop each time, giving us one extra lamb crop over the lifespan of the ewe. Ewe lambs will usually twin about 10% of the time; however, yearlings and older ewes will average 150% or higher with reasonable range conditions. Good mothering is the norm; bags are big and free of covering, giving all lambs a top shot at making it. This reproductive efficiency is derived from the Persian ewe, based on centuries of acclimation to arid and difficult desert conditions.

A Dorper ram will settle 75 to 100 ewes.

Yucca Lily Type 5 breeding ram “Slick” (QR)

THIS IS AN EASY ANIMAL TO LOVE.

two-lambs.jpg (39710 bytes)

We enjoy working with them!

DORPER VS. WHITE DORPER

This question is frequently asked. The choice is a matter of personal preference. We run both breeds and do not have a preference. The Dorpers are very handsome sheep with their black heads and white bodies, but the White Dorpers may be a bit more docile and laid back.


Champion ewes


Grand Champion Ewe (QR)


Chester as a lamb.

OUR PHILOSOPHY ON DORPER AND WHITE DORPER SHEEP

We believe that the benchmark for Dorpers is the South African Dorper. South Africans have spent 65 years perfecting the breeds that we now raise. There are Dorper breeders in the US who wish to change the breeds, make them long-legged and “Show Ring” oriented. When this happens, the breeds lose the functionality that has made Dorpers and White Dorpers the most rapidly growing breeds in the world. This is not our goal.  

FUNCTIONAL SHEEP

Functionality, hardiness and adaptability are stressed in Yucca Lily Dorpers. The Dorper breeds were developed to thrive in marginal conditions with minimal rainfall. We look for animals that have a light, loose covering that will handle our hot summers.  We raise sheep that will maintain their weight, breed year round and will prosper in conditions that exist where most American sheep are run. Our sheep are not raised in an alfalfa field. We look for an ideal weight in a ewe of 150 to 180 pounds, 230 to 260 for rams. Huge sheep cannot handle rough terrain.

Any Dorper that comes from Yucca Lily Ranch is a conditioned animal. They live and breed in pastures that have conditions as noted in the pictures below. Only the fittest survive…natural selection is an ongoing process.

WHERE ARE WE NOW… AND WHERE ARE WE GOING? 

DORPER RAMS

Based on the South African Breed Standards of Excellence, almost all our current breeding rams have the top rating of Type 5. We have had senior South African Judges and Inspectors evaluate our sheep yearly since 1999. We have sold all the breed stock that did not meet their validation.

To secure the best Dorper genetics, we have gone to Canada to buy the best Dorper ram available. Calgary (505), who senior South African inspector Raymond Read considers the best ram he has seen in North America, was purchased by Yucca Lily in 2005. Calgary is now the major flock sire for our ranch by way of artificial inseminations of hundreds of our young ewes.


Calgary…we have semen available for purchase. 

We had previously purchased semen from two of Calgary’s sons (590N and 647N), each Type 5 rams. Ram 590N gave us a heavy, muscular frame…647N gave us length and a great hair covering. Together with their sire, they gave us the basis for the line-breeding necessary to imprint the best Dorper characteristics in our sheep.


647N


590N

Yearling sons from 590N and 647N are now breeding the best Dorper lambs we have produced since our beginning in 1999.

We continue to use Kaffo and El Toro for their special contributions.


Kaffo…breeds a great butt!


El Toro…good frame size!

WHITE DORPER RAMS

Chester, our superb White Dorper ram, continues to be the flock sire. He is now 2.5 years of age and will continue to grow for another 6-8 months. He is beautifully balanced and is a Conformation 5, Type 5 White Dorper ram. His lambs all have a wonderful light, loose covering that sheds easily. Chester has produced 10 potential stud ram lambs this year that are all breeding now at the age of six months.


Chester

We also have four other Type 5 WD rams that contribute to the flock.


T2 (El Grande)


Charger


Fullhouse


Slick

Our most exciting news concerns the WD lambs we now own in Australia. Last year we purchased 55 WD embryos from Tien and Margaret Jordaan in South Africa. They were out of his top stud ram, “Y”. The embryos were taken to Australia and implanted. Thirty-five very good lambs were produced. They are now seven months of age and reproducing. We will have a steady supply of embryos and semen coming to the US from these lambs. There are eight potential Stud level ram lambs in the group.


“Y”

EWES

The ewe is the foundation of any good stud. Without input from top ewes, very little can be accomplished.  The dam is the main factor in the production of great rams.  The following pictures show some of our best producing ewes. All of our 350 current Fullblood ewes are Type 4 or Type 5.


Ewe lambs


4312


Ewe lamb


6061


4313


343

     

4310, 4312 and 4313 are all from the same sire and dam. They were the top three lambs at the National Show in 2005 and the top three yearlings at the Nationals in 2006


National Champion in 2003 and 2004. She is Chester's dam.


3582...National Champion in 2005


3185


3234


4310…Reserve National Champion 2006


1310

AVAILABILITY


12-month old White Dorper rams.


Dorper ram.

The ranch runs about 1000 ewes. Half are Dorper and half are White Dorper. We will be selling good ewes from both flocks this year. Demand, as always, far exceeds supply.

We always have a good supply of Dorper and White Dorper rams.

In both rams and ewes we have stressed QR and RR genetics.

Our word and reputation is built on having buyers who feel that we have been honest and stand behind our sheep. We believe that the customer comes first.

All of our sheep are registered.

We were certified as Scrapie free under the Voluntary Scrapie Flock Certification Program in April of 2006. A Federal vet examines every sheep in the flock each year under this program. That means bringing in 1000 animals from 16 pastures that cover nine square miles for a one-day exam… but we think it is worth the effort.

Give us a call or an email to talk about Dorpers, and hopefully start your ranch on the road to Dorper sheep.

Jean & Mike Sudderth MD
1008 Buckeye Road
Fredericksburg, Texas 78624
Phone - 830-990-8486

Ranch - Ozona, Texas
Phone - 325-392-3082

E-mail - sudderth@beecreek.net



Member of the American Dorper Sheep Breeders Society

[ Dorper Sheep Links ]


This Texas Dorper sheep site written and maintained by HUEY Productions.

 

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