Dorpers are Australia's preferred meat sheep, according to the Dorper Sheep Society of Australia (DSSA).
DSSA vice president, Mel Pagett, of Winrae Dorper stud, Bundarra, NSW, said that was the society's new slogan and one they believe they had earned through the growth and performance of the breed.
Having been breeding Dorpers herself since 1999, Mrs Pagett said Dorpers had grown ten fold since she became involved in the breed more than 20 years ago.
Being a shedding sheep, the fact that you don't have to shear them was one of the main factors involved in that growth, according to Mrs Pagett, along with their meat quality.
"They are a meat breed and have great confirmation. A really structurally sound Dorper is what we are all breeding for and that's what sells well," she said.
"Dorpers are very hardy, and adaptable. Our stud was originally started out at Bourke, and we've moved to Bundarra, and they survive and perform anywhere you take them. I think that is a huge attribute of the breed."
Proof of that is the vast areas of Australia now producing Dorper sheep. Mrs Pagett said there were Dorper breeders spread from Tasmania to the wheat belts in Western Australia, outback Queensland and New South Wales to tropical north Queensland, as well as throughout Victoria and South Australia.
"There's been a massive uptake over the last 20 years. We were a very small breed when we started and it wasn't a greatly accepted breed, whereas now our new slogan at DSSA is 'Australia's preferred meat sheep'. It is quite appropriate as the uptake of Dorpers is just huge in Australia. We were the largest selling meat sheep breed on AuctionsPlus last year, and we are one of the higher performing meat sheep breeds in most multi-vendors sales around Australia. We are very cemented as the breed in Australia for meat sheep."
Mrs Pagett said Dorpers produced a beautiful tender meat, high in Omega 3, 6 and 9, with a lean meat yield and excellent eating quality.
"It's not an overly fatty lamb, with no fatty after taste in your mouth that you can get after eating other breeds of lamb," she said.
"With a quick maturing carcase designed to turn off at 6-12 months of age on just grass country, they get to a 22-24kg ideal butcher carcase really quickly, so there's more profit in running them. Every 6-8 months you are turning lambs off and it's a constant production system.
"A lot of guys who've gone out of wool sheep, have gone back into Dorpers, as they are like running cattle but with more return more often as opposed to cattle that you only get an income off every two years. Your gross margins are a lot better and that's the bottom line."