We are often asked - How do I get into Dorpers? There is not an abundance of high cross ewes available, and the we have seen time and again, the most cost effective way is to simply use the ewes you already have.
Some producers have chosen to go directly to non shearing sheep and have chosen to purchase Damara ewes joined to either White Dorpers or Dorpers. Very cost effective.
The mulesing debate is continuing to run hot and some traditional wool growers are using it as an opportunity to diversify, by simply splitting their Merino flock into two groups.
The group of "future Merino's" are being joined to Merino Rams to breed a plain bodied non mulesing type wool sheep. The other Merino ewes are joined to White Dorpers or Dorpers to develop a highly productive, low maintenance cross bred ewe flock to produce high quality prime lamb and the first cross wether lambs are sold as Prime Lamb. At Jilakin, we do not mules first cross lambs as these lambs have a plain body for easier husbandry.
At Jilakin Downs, we are using our existing commercial Merino and Finn/Merino ewe flock to produce Prime Lamb and breed through to a commercial White Dorper flock for Prime Lamb production. In the cross breeding commercial program, we have found
- The plainer bodied Finn X ewes shed earlier than the more wrinkled Merino
- We don't mules any first cross (F1) lambs - not even the ewe lambs that are to be retained
- All F1 ewes are joined at 40 - 45kgs. Feed is more important than time of year.
- The F1s as 12 month old mothers have great milk supply and mothering instincts and a high rate of twins
Young Commercial F1 ewes Jilakin Winter 2005 Commercial 12-14 month old ewes with lambs. Joined at 8 months of age. Winter 2005
The Commercial ewe flock is not growing as fast as we would like because we keep selling the cross bred ewes, due to the high level of demand fro other growers.