Dorset Horn stud producer Evan Wright is giving the breed a much needed revitalisation through thawing and using semen he collected 30 years ago to breed his next ram offering.
This 'blast from the past' is aimed at helping the Dorset Horn breed boost its gene pool which has become so small that it is now considered a rare and endangered species.
To put it in perspective, Mr Wright - a Bendemeer-based breeder from KP and Right studs - said in 1971 there were 210,000 registered ewes however as of this year there were under 500 registered ewes.
"It is a rare breed - there is probably only 14-15 studs in the book registered," he said.
"The breed is nearing the point of extinction."
Many say this could be attributed to the changing perceptions surrounding 'horned' livestock, with a similar declining trend seen in the Merino industry and Hereford breeds as more people move to Poll Merinos and Poll Herefords, respectively.
Mr Wright has the largest collection of Dorset Horn ram semen stored within Australia.
"I have 14 rams stored, three New Zealand rams and the rest are Australian," he said. "It is something I had to do for the breed's sake."
To build his collection, Mr Wright started collecting semen from as long as 30 years ago when he had the opportunity to access it.
"When they were being collected 30 years ago, not many were storing it at the time they were just using it," he said.
Interestingly, Mr Wright said veterinarians and geneticists involved in the process of thawing the semen had been impressed with its quality.
"All semen is above 70 per cent (motility) after thawing," he said. "They are better than rams these days."
To re-establish lines of outcross sheep, Mr Wright breeds his KP stud solely via artificial insemination (AI) whereas his Right stud is reproduced through natural matings.
The quicker maturity pattern and finishing ability is an advantage of the Dorset Horn breed that its producers don't want to lose if the declining trend continued.
The AI to turn back the clock was worthwhile for Mr Wright who won grand champion Dorset Horn ram and ewe during the NSW Dorset Championships with his KP stud animals.
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