The Dorset Down sheep is a breed of domestic sheep from United Kingdom. It is native to the Dorset Downs region of England.
It was originated from crosses of local and Hampshire ewes with Southdown rams in the early nineteenth century. It is not actually closely related to the Dorset (also known as Dorset Horned), which is a white-faced sheep.
These animals were introduced to Australia in 1937, but has not gained much popularity there. During the period of the development of the Dorset Down sheep, it was well suited to it’s local area and it became popular as a terminal sire.
A breed society was formed for the breed in 1904, and the breed was in demand throughout the first half of the twentieth century.
In common with the other Down breeds the introduction of foreign breeds such as the Texel and the immense popularity of the Suffolk meant that the number of Dorset Downs dwindled.
Today the breed is listed as a minority breed by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust. Read some more information about the Dorset Down sheep below.
Dorset Down Sheep Characteristics
The Dorset Down sheep are medium to large sized animals. They usually have dark brown, wool-free head and legs. They have a stocky and powerfully built appearance which is similar to a Hampshire Down sheep.
Their face is usually dark and the wool is short. Both rams and ewes are generally polled.
Average live body weight of the mature Dorset Down ewes is around 70 kg. And the mature ram’s body weight is around 110 kg. Photo and info from RBST and Wikipedia.
The Dorset Down sheep is a meat sheep breed. It is raised mainly for meat production.
The Dorset Down sheep are robust animals and they are hardy and active. They are actually fast growing and quick maturing animals. It’s main role is as a terminal sire for prime lamb production.
And prior to the importation of Continental sheep breeds like the Texel sheep, the Dorset Down sheep was a popular terminal sire breed in the United Kingdom.
Along with the availability in it’s native area, the breed was also exported to North and South America, Australia and New Zealand. But the breed remains fairly rare in those countries outside it’s native area.
Today, the Dorset Down sheep is raised mainly for meat production. A purebred Dorset Down lamb can reach 18 kg carcass weight within 12 weeks of age. However, review full breed profile of these sheep in the chart below.
|Breed Name||Dorset Down|
|Breed Purpose||Mainly meat|
|Special Notes||Very beautiful animals, striking appearance and are robust animals, hardy and active, fast growing, quick maturing, raised mainly for meat production, pretty rare today|
|Breed Size||Medium to large|
|Weight||Mature rams live body weight is around 110 kg, and the mature ewes on average weight around 70 kg.|
|Climate Tolerance||Almost all climates|
|Country/Place of Origin||United Kingdom|