Dorper Sheep: Truths and Myths

After being in the business of raising wool sheep of various kinds for two decades, I decided in 2005 to start with hair sheep. It was a fairly bold move at the time since it meant giving up on the customers who bought breeding stock from me, and since I also didn’t know how well my market lambs would sell.

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These ¾ White Dorper female replacement lambs already look very much like purebred White Dorpers Photographer: Ulf Kintzel

I had heard all the negatives about them such as “The lambs get too fat”, “The lambs sell for less money at auctions”, “The pasture will be littered with wool as these sheep shed”, and “They get too cold in the winter”.

I had a Texel flock of 100 breeding ewes at the time when I bought my first White Dorper rams. My Texel sheep had served me well with their ability to finish on pasture, with their excellent meaty carcasses and with their lambing percentage of over 200 percent. However, Texel sheep breed strongly seasonal, are heat sensitive, have at times problems lambing due to the broad head and shoulders, and they need shearing. I shear myself and since I wanted to increase the size of my flock I was not looking forward to shearing even more sheep.

Dorper sheep originated in South Africa and were the result of crossing Dorset Horn with Blackheaded Persian sheep. Two varieties of Dorper Sheep were created: the black headed Dorper and an all white variety, the White Dorper sheep. Although the breed was created in the 1930s, it is still fairly new to the US.

To avoid the coloring and spots that come along with first and second generation cross breeding with Dorper sheep, I decided to go with White Dorper sheep (WD). Later on I found out that this was the faster route to accomplish shedding in the offspring. I used purebred as opposed to full blood White Dorper rams to upgrade my flock. They were significantly more reasonably priced and for practical matters were the same. Today I have 1/2, 3/4, 7/8th, and 15/16th White Dorper sheep. The percentage of 15/16 is considered purebred. 7/8th exhibit all the traits of purebreds like out-of-season breeding and even many 3/4 look like purebred and shed as well.


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The shedding process may take some getting used to but will not litter your pasture with wool Photographer: Ulf Kintzel

I raise all my sheep and lambs strictly on pasture and feed no grain whatsoever. The ability of this breed to put grass into weight gain is remarkable. But what about the market lambs getting too fat? While I had no worries about my 1/2 market lambs since the Texel influence was still strong, my anticipation when the first 3/4 market lambs were harvested was great. I usually harvest my lambs between 80 and 90 lbs. while letting some lambs reach weights up to 100+ lbs. At that weight there are no problems with too much fat cover whatsoever. That applies to purebred WD market lambs as well. I had on occasion lambs butchered that exceeded 110 pounds. At that weight the fat cover did indeed get too much. It is also well established that heavy grain feeding does not suit these medium sized sheep since they thrive on so little. They will definitely get too fat. However, if you are not intending to feed grain and if you don’t intend to grow your lambs beyond 100 lbs. – take it from me, you don’t have to worry about anyone getting too fat.

Originally, the established buyers at auctions resisted hairsheep in general and they fetched lower prices in places like New Holland. The trend is now reversed. In California prices for hair sheep have surpassed prices for wool sheep and in New Holland they are catching up. The customers, including the many ethnic customers, caught up and appreciate the milder flavor of hairsheep. I no longer sell at livestock auctions mainly because I don’t have to. I direct sell a great number of lambs. My customers are also distributors of various sizes who sell mainly at restaurants and their private customers. As they say, the proof is in the pudding eating. If my product would be poorly finished or wouldn’t taste good, I surely would lose customers. Instead, I get raving reports back and I never seem to have enough market lambs to make everyone happy.

The flavor of the market lambs is in my opinion mostly influenced by the fact that these lambs are grass-fed. My Texel and Dorset lambs that I used to have in the past didn’t differ that much in flavor, although the WD lambs are indeed milder tasting. In lambs, grain feeding versus grass-fed has a greater influence on flavor than the differences in breeds.  However, in older hairsheep the flavor is still impressive due to the genetic factor. I sell a lot of culled ewes as roasts, ground meat, stew meat and various sausages. The mild and yet rich flavor of these culled ewes is remarkable and does not at all remind anyone of mutton. In fact, when we have pot roast from a culled ewe I can still fool my wife into thinking we had lamb for dinner.


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Despite being a hairsheep, White Dorpers do not lack winter hardiness Photographer: Ulf Kintzel

The shedding ability of this breed varies greatly. There is the wool type and the hairtype with the hairtype being slightly less meaty but far better shedding. What is worse, however, is the fact that there are breeders who do not select for shedding ability and for the show ring instead. What is the point of getting hairsheep when you end up shearing them? If you consider hairsheep like White Dorpers in the future don’t forget to ask the breeder about the shedding ability of their flock!

The first rams I purchased were of outstanding shedding ability.  As a result, about 50 percent of the first generation of White Dorper cross bred sheep shed partially or mostly. The other half needed shearing. However, they all shed around the belly, legs, head, and all the other places that would otherwise prolong shearing. There was only the body fleece that needed shearing. Subsequent generations with higher percentage shed better and better although shedding is not a black and white thing.

It improves from year one to year two of age but can again be reduced by external factors like disease or weight loss. And some shed one year but not totally the next for no apparent reason at all.  It’s also possible that some pieces of wool or hair remain along the back or on the hind quarters or arm pits. That is normal.

So, what about littering the pasture with wool? You will find the occasional larger patch of wool in your pasture and you will definitely find wool and hair on the trees where the sheep rub. But the pasture littered with wool as I had feared just did not happen. The wool and hair comes mainly off in such small pieces that it is like a cow or a goat shedding – you don’t worry about their hair littering the pasture either.

As far as winter hardiness is concerned, I have my sheep out in zero degree weather. While they always have access to a wind break when the wind howls, they are not being housed with the exception of those that lamb during the winter. I can’t speak to colder temperatures, taking zero degrees without a problem is good enough for me. However, since Dorpers can also be found further North in colder climates, I am sure that a lack of winter hardiness is not a trait applying to Dorper sheep.

There is no such thing as an ideal breed. You will always need to make compromises if you choose to have a purebred flock. However, if I consider the traits described in this article and add the easy lambing, good mothering and fertility as well as the calm disposition and eye appealing looks of these sheep to the mix, I have come very close to the ideal breed – at least for my farming system and my market. There are without a doubt breeds that surpass White Dorper sheep in one or the other trait. If you combine all traits I have not found a better breed for a farming system based on pasture and direct marketing.


Ulf Kintzel 

Ulf owns and operates White Clover Sheep Farm and breeds and raises grass-fed White Dorper sheep without any grain feeding and offers breeding stock suitable for grazing. He is a native of Germany and lives in the US since 1995. He farms in the Finger Lakes area in upstate New York. His website address is He can be reached by e-mail at or by phone during “calling hour” indicated on the answering machine at 585-554-3313.


  1. Avatar of paul wilcox paul wilcox on October 12, 2012 at 4:37 am

    Hi currently running flock of 600. I have noticed that some lambs are showing caramel patches. One in particular is more like a paint horse. I can only put this down to past genetics. Question is this common?
    Secondly at what age are you removing lambs from mothers . Thirdly how long after separation to market. Looking forward to reply. Ta Paul.5

    • Avatar of lezlie lezlie on October 7, 2020 at 5:24 pm

      its ok to wean the lamb as soon as possible.

    • Avatar of Indysmoke clothing Indysmoke clothing on September 25, 2021 at 11:06 pm

      I love lambs… Does lambs has less cholesterol than goat?

      • Avatar of Eid Eid on December 14, 2022 at 12:53 am

        The only problem with colesterol is that the big pharma found a new drug to sell.

  2. Avatar of nick moses nick moses on July 30, 2013 at 8:05 am

    Very interesting and informational!

  3. Avatar of George George on October 12, 2014 at 5:57 pm

    How often do dorpers have breeding problems and we will then have to pull the lambs?

  4. Avatar of on October 13, 2014 at 1:38 pm

    For specific questions, please contact the author. His information is given at the conclusion of the article, pasted below.
    Ulf Kintzel owns and manages White Clover Sheep Farm ( in Rushville, NY where he breeds grass-fed White Dorper sheep. He can be reached at 585-554-3313 or by e-mail at

  5. Avatar of ellie aikau ellie aikau on October 14, 2014 at 12:40 am

    I belong to a herding club in Hawaii. We have a dispute between the members about feeding sheep after working them. Half of the group thinks it is okay to feed hot sheep, the other half disagrees. The outside temp is above 85* sheep are heaving and panting rapidly. I think that we are asking for bloat.

  6. Avatar of stephen mc grath stephen mc grath on October 19, 2014 at 4:17 pm

    I have bought a dorper lamb an intend to serve mountain horny ewes with him has it ever being tried out

  7. Avatar of Robin hernando Robin hernando on November 2, 2014 at 9:56 am

    I have a question.
    I have a pet ram lamb, texel dorset cross I was told. He is 8 months old.
    I bottle fed him for three months and give him grain 2x a day, and free choice hay as well as pasture grass. As well as a hand full of peanuts every day. (I know, I’m not a good farmer)
    My question is, how much should he weigh. He seems pretty big to me, but since he is my first sheep, I don’t know what he should weigh. I don’t want him to get unhealthily fat.
    I have no way of weighing him.

  8. Avatar of Douglas Bunker Douglas Bunker on March 9, 2015 at 9:08 pm

    I am considering starting a small Dorper and or Katahdin herd to raise meat for the Western New York market. Can you advise on the availability of a good ram and 10-12 ewe lambs this Spring. I would also be interested in bred young ewes. Please indicate pricing as well. Thank you

  9. Avatar of Donna Maginnis Donna Maginnis on August 16, 2015 at 8:07 pm

    I forgot to ask for notification via e-mail, so I am reposting my questions. How do you collect wool from self-shearing sheep? Do you have to go around picking it up out of the pasture?

    • Avatar of Loretta H. Loretta H. on November 27, 2021 at 3:38 pm

      LMAO!!!! Thanks for the belly shaking laugh! I’m sure by now you have an answer.

    • Avatar of Diane Glogner Diane Glogner on April 19, 2023 at 3:30 pm

      Hair sheep have amix of wool and hair, shed very short. May be good for looming but probably not for knitting

      . hair s=does not have crimp.

  10. Avatar of Noela Newman Noela Newman on September 17, 2015 at 9:22 pm

    I have a black face ewe and she is very fat and is 7 months old, should I be worried about her having a lamb and is she old enough to get in lamb. Thanks, Noela

  11. Avatar of krisna krisna on February 27, 2017 at 3:56 am

    the information is very interesting

  12. Avatar of Linda Linda on March 2, 2017 at 4:15 pm

    I have a very small Dorper ewe, she is 7 months old but very small. I am new to the sheep business so I am concerned that she will never be large enough to breed. My Dorper ram is not really large but he is bigger than her. If I took the chance and had her bred would she be able to carry her lamb/s?

  13. Avatar of Joanne Joanne on January 8, 2018 at 11:10 pm

    Hi just wondering it may be a silly question anyways can you milk Dorper sheep

    • Avatar of Carli Fraccarolli Carli Fraccarolli on February 6, 2018 at 1:21 pm

      Hi Joanne. Yes, you can milk Dorper sheep! Feel free to contact the author, Ulf Kintzel, at for further information.

  14. Avatar of qazi junaid qazi junaid on May 16, 2018 at 12:44 am

    i want buy texel sheep unit so please tell how can buy it this breed

    • Avatar of Talia Isaacson Talia Isaacson on May 17, 2018 at 9:36 am

      Hi Qazi,
      I’d recommend getting in touch with the author of this article- he might have some good insight for you. He can be reached at 585-554-3313 or by e-mail at Hope this helps!

    • Avatar of Benjamin Benjamin on February 15, 2023 at 5:42 am
  15. Avatar of John Rae John Rae on October 10, 2019 at 4:56 am

    Just like to make a comment. We live in central NSW ( Australia ) our usual rainfall is 30 inchs, temp range from -7 deg to 45 deg C ( yes 115 F ) but over the past 3 years we have been experiencing a huge drought. When I look out in the paddock it looks like hell on earth but at the same time beautiful. Have been buying in feed since the start of 2018. Sold all our cattle. The saving grace are our Dorpers. Just weaned 530 lambs .If we can get some weight on them worth $200+ in current market. We let them be sheep and just help them along. We have just over 1200 breeding ewes & aim for around 2000 when things get better. I would never go back to merinos & do not intend having cattle again

  16. Avatar of Alicia Alicia on July 30, 2020 at 6:57 am

    My dorper sheep have been lambing only male lambs..i do not know why there are no females being born…9males so females

  17. Avatar of Herman Herman on August 19, 2020 at 12:53 pm

    Hi…..I have a merino female sheep and I would like to know if it’s possible to cross it with male dorper sheep to get pregnant ..

  18. Avatar of Dan Bain Dan Bain on December 28, 2020 at 7:34 pm

    Do Dorpers only breed seasonally ? What happens if you leave the ram out all year round? Will they settle into a seasonal pattern or will they breed continually?

  19. Avatar of Marina / MGDorpers Marina / MGDorpers on April 27, 2021 at 5:54 pm

    i love the dorper sheep breed! if any one would be interested in buying some good quality Dorpers check out my website it is comming out soon! keep checking it out! for info and videos along with books and much more!

    or you can contact me at-

  20. Avatar of Marina / MGDorpers Marina / MGDorpers on April 27, 2021 at 5:58 pm

    has anyone had CL in Dorper sheep one of my fav ewes has CL and we are trying to find a way to maybe stop it! my ewe with CL has had her first batch of lambs last month and she is a really good mother! i do not want to cull her from the flock! so so far we are separating her and letting the pus drain…
    let me know!


  21. Avatar of sablon kaos terdekat sablon kaos terdekat on September 21, 2021 at 9:42 am

    thanks for this good info

  22. Avatar of Deanna Johnson Deanna Johnson on December 29, 2021 at 10:46 pm

    Just remember that Dorper’s do have multiple births.. we raise some dorpers and they start off with the first time lambing with twins then after that triplets. the last time the ewe had triplets she would not take care of the tiny black one but at first she did.. but my husband ended up bottle feeding the last one born. we really enjoy that black baby lamb and she is 9 months old now. we find dorpers a great sheep to raise and to eat.. had ribs tonight and use the grease on the dry dog food.. dogs love it.. I would say try the dorpers.. we only raise a few for there is only us out here….

  23. Avatar of Konveksi Baju Konveksi Baju on May 18, 2022 at 11:17 am

    In our city the sheep are raised very much because the grass is still fertile

  24. Avatar of Kaos Murah Bandung Kaos Murah Bandung on May 18, 2022 at 11:21 am

    Kita wajib menjaga kesuburan tanaman agar domba bisa makan dengan cukup dan bisa berkembang biak dengan baik oleh peternak

  25. Avatar of Sablon Terbaik Sablon Terbaik on May 18, 2022 at 11:24 am

    In addition to the delicious meat, lamb can also be made of skin for a high-value jacket material

  26. Avatar of Terbaik Terbaik on July 19, 2022 at 3:45 am

    Dorper Sheep: Truths and Myths Tempat jasa sablon kaos murah Kaos sablon Bandung Pusat tempat Pembuatan Kaos sablon Baju Distro di Bandung Konveksi Buat Kaos Kelas Reuni Polo Bandung kawasan Jakarta pusat Berkualitas cetak Screen Printing sablon Digital Custom manual Rubber Plastisol komunitas Reuni Jaket satuan grosiran Kemeja ~ Alamat Tempat Sablon Kaos

  27. Avatar of Pabrik Topi Murah Pabrik Topi Murah on August 1, 2022 at 3:13 am

    daging domba sangat enak dan sangat kaya akan protein. mantap !

  28. Avatar of pabrik kaos murah pabrik kaos murah on August 4, 2022 at 2:21 am

    best beef in the word is lamb,i like lamb beef spesialis sate…..

  29. Avatar of Benjamin Benjamin on February 15, 2023 at 5:39 am

    Amazing sheep, been breeding the Dorper for sometime now and i must say their adaptability is really outstanding. You can check my blog at Merino sheep for sale

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