Project Leader: Dr. Dan Waldron , Texas AgriLife Research, San Angelo
Background: Many of the sheep in the Western US are of the Rambouillet breed, which is considered a dual-purpose breed, because both meat and wool have been economically important products. Dorper, a breed developed in South Africa, in a low rainfall area, is a hair/shedding breed that does not require shearing. The Dorper has been selected for carcass traits and adaptability to harsh environmental conditions typical of much of the sheep production area of the Southwestern US. The Dorper is a potential alternative to the Rambouillet for lamb production. A research trial was designed and is being conducted, that will provide sheep producers with information about the relative production of Dorper and Rambouillet ewes in commercial conditions.
One-hundred ewe lambs of each breed were obtained to create the research flock. Ewes were obtained from several different flocks to represent a broad sample of the breeds. Performance is being recorded for fertility, number of lambs born, number of lambs weaned, birth weight, weaning weight, post-weaning growth rate, and carcass traits.
Knowledge of performance differences between Dorper and Rambouillet ewes will provide producers with information needed to make an informed choice about expected performance of these breeds. Cost of shearing and income from wool and pelts will be included in the final analysis. The economic comparison of lifetime lamb production from Dorper and Rambouillet ewes also needs to account for ewe longevity. The Dorper breed is relatively new to the US and little comparative research with US breeds has been published.