Depending on the breed, sheep can have horns or be hornless, so you will probably come across both since this animal has various breeds. However, if you are looking for the answer to, do Dorper sheep have horns, then we’ve got you.
Most Dorper sheep, male and female, don’t have horns, but a few rams are born with scurs or horns. This breed was developed by crossing a Blackheaded Persian with a Horned Dorset, so the occasional horns and scurs can be attributed to the Dorset.
There’s plenty to like about these hornless sheep, and this post will discuss these attributes.
Are Dorper Sheep Polled Or Horned?
As mentioned above, Dorper sheep are naturally polled but don’t be surprised to see a ram with scurs or horns. However, naturally polled sheep like the Dorper is an excellent choice if you want a sheep breed without horns.
There are benefits to raising naturally polled sheep, and they include:
Less damage to property
Sheep with strong, big horns can easily damage your property, fences, and even equipment. In fact, fences are pretty susceptible to the battering horns of a ram.
Therefore, your property is safer with hornless sheep.
Less injuries to people and other sheep
Horned sheep can cause harm to humans and other sheep, so you are better off with a polled sheep.
While sheep’s horns are typically curved, minimizing their ability to hurt you with the sharp ends, their horns are still super strong.
A sheep can headbutt you or other animals with incredible force, causing injuries. While polled sheep are safer, they can still headbutt you, but their furry skull is less dangerous than one with huge curved horns.
Reduces the chances of sheep getting stuck
Sheep horns can get stuck in fence gaps, wires, or branches, leaving the animals immobile for a while, putting them at risk of falling victim to predators, elements, and dehydration.
Therefore, a farmer with polled sheep doesn’t have to worry about this issue.
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The Origin of Dorper Sheep
Developed in the 1930’s from a Blackheaded Persian ewe and a Dorset Horn ram, this South African breed has a white body and a white or black head.
The naturally polled sheep has a relatively long body with light, short wool that needs little shearing.
This breed was created to develop a meat sheep better suited for South Africa’s vast arid regions. Although they were made for arid climates, they are adaptable to various grazing and climatic conditions.
Today, the Dorper sheep is South Africa’s second-largest breed and is found in many other countries.
Dorper sheep have two color varieties- the White Dorper Sheep has a white head and a white body, while the Regular Dorper Sheep has a dull black head and a white body.
Reasons To Raise Dorper Sheep
For several reasons, Dorper sheep are a popular breed and would be a great addition to your farm. Here are some pros of keeping this sheep breed.
This breed is primarily raised for mutton production and excels at it highly. Since their breeding season is long and not limited to seasons, you can organize to facilitate lambing multiple times a year.
With good management and desirable forage conditions, the ewes can lamb up to thrice in two years. In addition, you will have a high percentage of ewes getting pregnant in a single mating season.
Besides an excellent lambing rate, these sheep also add weight at an exceptional rate, gaining up to ¼ pounds daily, on average.
While they aren’t the largest sheep, they have an excellent flavor, and you will receive the best results if you raise them mainly on grass.
Grass makes Dorper sheep’s meat tender, flavorful, and excellent for management purposes. However, you are advised against feeding them grain because it’s uneconomical and will make your sheep too fat.
Dorper lambs are usually ready for the market by the time they are 4 months old, weighing about 80 pounds.
However, you can wait much longer before selling them to get even more quality mutton meat.
The lambs will put on weight quickly and wean themselves much earlier. This lowers your expenses because feeding a non-lactating ewe and the lamb separately is easier than a lactating ewe.
Moreover, the rams become sexually mature faster and are typically ready to breed at around 5 months old.
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A long breeding season
Unlike sheep breeds such as the Icelandic, Dorpers are not restricted to specific months to breed. These sheep have good mothering instincts and fertility and can have lambs multiple times a year.
Minimal shearing required
Dorper sheep have a mixture of wool and hair, so it’s easier to care for them. You can either decide to shear or let the wool and hair shed on their own at the end of every spring.
Remember, some populations and generations of this sheep shed are better at shedding their hair and wool than others. However, nearly all Dorpers shed around high-need areas like the belly, legs, and head.
Dorper sheep are highly resilient and hardy, which is why they are popular today. In addition, these animals can live in different climates and grazing conditions, even though they were initially made for dry, hot areas.
Unlike other sheep, the Dorpers can thrive and find foods in different kinds of feeding and range conditions. Besides, their wool and hair are easy to take care of in summer.
Moreover, their thick skin is a prized commodity and helps protect the sheep from severe climatic conditions in cold and warm seasons. In fact, this sheep’s skin is among the most sought-after sheepskin globally.
Unlike goats, you can feed Dorper sheep standard pasture and even browse, and they can live in less-ideal plots, areas other sheep breeds may frown upon.
Limitations In Raising Dorper Sheep
While Dorper sheep are easy to raise and offer many advantages, they also have drawbacks.
Feeding Dorper sheep too much grain makes them fat, leading to fatty meat. Therefore, you must be careful about what to feed them; preferably, browse and pasture for high-quality mutton.
Although Dorper ewes can birth lambs many times a year, they usually have a single lamb each time. Fortunately, the lambs are fast-growing, self-sufficient, and healthy.
Nonetheless, Dorper sheep isn’t the best choice for you if you prefer to have twins, triplets, or quadruplets.
Not the best producers of milk or wool
Dorper sheep aren’t the best producers of milk or wool, so if you wish to generate these commodities, you are better off raising a different breed. For example, Laucaunes and East Friesians are better milk producers.
The upside is you get high-quality meat and excellent leather from Dorper sheep. The skin is marketed under Cape Glovers, with the skin comprising 20% of the entire carcass income.
Dorper sheep are an excellent breed if you want a naturally polled sheep for meat production that you can raise in different climates. It’s easy to care for this breed, and the young ones are much easier to raise and grow up quickly. Horns don’t add value to a sheep’s milk, wool, and meat production and can even be a nuisance.