Dorper Sheep


We have a small but growing flock of White Dorper sheep that we raise for breeding stock and for meat.  Our sheep are useful for brush control and can graze back invasive plant species such as Himalayan blackberries and Scotch broom. They are low maintenance sheep and productive converters of forage to meat.  They lamb with ease and usually twin, and can raise triplets.  They are disease and parasite resistant.  No shearing is required as they naturally shed their winter wool coat.  We provide high quality, tasty lamb to the local area.

We work with Paul and Kathy Lewis at  Black Canyon Ranch.  Working with the Lewis’s, we now have excellent 7/8 to full blood white dorpers through artificial insemination, that are now producing 3/4 and higher percentage Dorper lambs. 


One of our customers is Matt Szymanski.  (Chef, Restaurant 301 at the Hotel Carter - AAA four diamonds, 1 of 89 Wine Spectator Grand Award Winners in the World - Eureka, CA.  Graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Hyde Park, NY.)

"The fat to lean ratio on the Dorper is perfect, not too much fat at all.  I did not really notice this until I started using other breeds of lamb recently, I had just become used to the Dorper.  While using Dorper exclusively I just thought that lamb was low in fat, but now that I have had to use other breeds I realize that the Dorper just has less fat.

The first thing I noticed about the Dorper lamb was the uniformity in the rack and loin.  While most lamb racks and loins taper at the end, the Dorper stays unusually uniform.  This results in a much better yield when making portion cuts of meat, which equates to a better food cost.

And the most important factor is the flavor.  I realize that the most important factor in flavor is the lambs diet, so I can not really say it is the Dorper per se, but that the grass fed diet that makes the flavor superior.  What also must be noted is that the flavor many people find offensive in lamb is from the fat, as lamb fat tends to be very strong.  Since the Dorper is quite lean, I believe this helps in giving the dorper it's superior flavor.  That is not to say it is lacking in the distinctive lamb flavor, but it is much more mild than the fattier lambs that I have experienced recently.


Having served the Dorper lamb to very sophisticated diners in a world famous establishment, I can say it was well received.  I have served every part of the lamb to this clientele, from the rack to the neck and I must say it is a joy to work with.  I have braised the shanks, roasted the shoulders, seared loins, made ravioli with the necks and ground it into sausage.  Dorper lamb is a great product that yields amazing results."

A four month old  3/4 Dorper ewe lamb. (Photo by Steve Kramer)



Dorper Sheep - Breed Information
The Dorper breed was developed in South Africa and is a cross between the  Blackhead Persian and the British meat sheep  Dorset Horn.  This breed combined the great growth and meat quality of the British breed with the endurance and the undemanding nature of the other.

Most people know Dorper sheep as a black headed breed but white headed ones exist as well.  The color is merely a matter of preference for each breeder.



In the early 1950's, a controversy arose concerning black markings vs. a pure white sheep. Some breeders preferred a white sheep, called the Dorsian, while others chose to select for confirmation rather than color and use the black markings as their trademark. In 1964, the controversy was settled when the blackhead and white Dorper breeders united into one association calling the black head sheep Dorpers and with the unmarked being called White Dorpers. (from


Gisela Fritz


The Dorper breed is now numerically the second largest breed in South Africa and has spread to many countries throughout the world.  It is mainly a meat sheep and the sole purpose of the wool is the protection from cold and wetness during the winter.  No shearing is necessary.

Dorpers are very hardy, can raise lambs under fairly sever conditions, are non-selective feeders that also graze lesser quality grass and shrubs, are easy to care for, and a well tempered. 

Dorpers have a high reproduction rate with a long breeding season that is not seasonally limited.  Under good conditions Dorpers can lamb three times in two years.

The lambs grow rapidly and attain a high weaning weigh (~ 36kg can be attained in 3 to 4 months).  At the age of 1 males can reach 75 to 85 kg, as adults they can weigh 110-120kg. In addition the  meat quality is very high, often rated as super grading.