Black Canyon Ranch in Oregon

Lewis stud rams, unshorn
Lewis Stud Rams (unshorn)

Sheep have been dual-purpose animals producing both meat and wool for almost as long as they have been domesticated. In recent years, however, several factors have made some producers question the profitability of wool production.

•    Some climates are not suited for quality wool production.

•    Securing shearers can be a problem and may be delayed by weather.

•    The cost of shearing has increased, especially for smaller flocks.

•    Shearing requires labor and facilities for gathering and penning prior to shearing.

•    Wool can cause management and health problems especially when pasture lambing in warm, wet climates.

•    Sheep can be stressed by gathering, holding off feed prior to shearing, and exposure to inclement weather after shearing.

•    Wet, soiled wool can be a source of contamination in lambing barns and slaughter plants. Tagging or shearing around the udder may be required before lambing.

•    When selecting sheep for wool quality, progress in other valuable production traits may decrease.

The covering on Dorpers and White Dorpers can vary from wool to completely hair. Both extremes are considered undesirable under the breed standards and a short, loose and light combination of hair and wool is the ideal. This type of covering sheds well and never needs shearing to look neat and clean.

A short wool covering across the top of the back helps protect against sunburn. Kemp or hair on the underline and rear quarters keeps the sheep clean and free of weed seeds and greatly helps newborn lambs find their first meal.

From a practical standpoint, an acceptable the White Dorper coat would never require shearing but would provide protection from the elements. Most White Dorpers grow a thicker coat in winter and shed in the spring. We have never had to shear our flock of W. Dorpers.

Besides genetics, shedding can be influenced by climate and nutrition. Most of our buyers prefer the clean shedding type and we have selected for this in our flock for years.

Unless they are complete shedders, Dorpers and W. Dorpers are closely shorn for shows and sales. Shorn wool from any hair breed must never be mixed with wool from wool breeds.

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