NEW SOUTH WALES studs, at either end of the state, took the main prizes for the top Dorper ewes at Bendigo’s annual Australian Sheep and Wool Show.
Nomuula, at Moonbi, in northern NSW won the Grand Champion white dorper ewe, while Dell, at Moama, took out the Grand Champion Dorper.
Nomuula’s Cherilyn Lowe said she only took up breeding Dorpers three years ago, after seeing the animals at Amarula.
“It was just a hobby to see what I could breed – I wanted to breed a beautiful animal and I fell in love with them,” she said.
The winning ewe, Tilly, was by Nuumala Gere, out of Nuumala Sammi, and was born on January 17, last year.
Originally from Glen Innes, on the New England Tablelands, Ms Lowe said she moved to the Gold Coast when she married.
She had a property at Moonbi, just north of Tamworth, where she set up the stud, and has since bought another two parcels of land.
“My family have always been on the land and I now have three properties.
“I have just over 200 animals, that’s ewes and lambs, but I have stud and commercial rams for sale.
“I thought, what am I going to do now, so I went away and did this,” she said.
Dell Dorpers, Moama, NSW Moozie van Niekerk said Dorpers were adapting well to the drier conditions, throughout NSW and Victoria.
“They are actually very adaptable, once they are there for a year or two, they seem to adapt, they do seem to suit the dry conditions better, because that’s what they are bred for, and they are doing extremely well in all dry areas,” Ms van Niekerk said.
The winning grand champion ewe was 15 months old, from a sire with Niemur bloodlines, out of John Dell igenetics, while the dam had Mickey Phillips bloodlines.
Originally a South African breed, she said her Dorper flock was based on embryos brought over to Australia.
Dell Dorpers Australia was established in 2007 by the van Niekerks and John Dell of Hounslow, South Africa.
John Dell was one of the most prominent South African breeders, as the owner and breeder at one of the country’s oldest studs.
He started the Australian operation with embryos sired by Mickey Phillips Rolo and JoJo.
Ms van Niekerk said the meat sheep was particularly attractive to the Chinese market. “China is coming and want a lot of Dorpers from here, as well, which helps our market – we have more markets, and more clients, so we can breed more and sell more.”
Dell had 500 stud animals and was planning to increase the flock.
“Because China is wanting more and more, and we can’t supply that, we are hoping to put in 500 embryos a year, from now on, plus al our naturals from our ewes.
“We flush them once and mate them naturally, so some ewes can have between 10-20 lambs a year – while the China market is there, we are going to push it.”
The only thing holding back growth was a ban on importation of genetics, since an outbreak of foot and mouth disease in South Africa, two years ago.
“The breeders are going to have to buy stud rams from each other now, although I think the quality has improved immensely in the last 10 years,” Ms van Niekerk said.
“It would be good to get some outside genetics, as the pool is not as big as it could be.”
Judge Freddie Dreyer, from Namibia, said the breed was getting very good exposure, in Australia.
“The meat industry needs the dorper,” he said.
The ban on embryo transfers was a huge set back for the industry in Southern Africa and throughouth the world.
But he said the quality of the breed, in Australia, was improving all the time.
“I was here for years ago, doing a show in Dubbo, and quality wise, the Dorper is becoming better and better.”