I recently join a face book group of fellow Dorper sheep raisers who want to concentrate on raising sheep that meet the South African Dorper standards or in essence the Dorper standards. The group is to educate sheep farmers new to the Dorper breed of what the standards look like on the live sheep, more specifically their sheep.
Several group members, who are inspectors of Dorper sheep, give their insight on what to look for and other resources to learn from. I have found the information helpful. There are two videos by Wicus Cronje, from Burrawang Dorper & White Dorper Stud regarding selecting Dorper sheep. I did not grow up around sheep or showing sheep. When a judge says the reasonings for placing one sheep above the other, I do not always understand what the judge is talking about. These two videos helped me to see and understand the jargon used in describing sheep.
Selection of a Dorper Ram: (link below to video)
Selection of a Dorper Ewe:(link below to video)
Wicus Cronje explains the reasons the Dorper sheep were developed for specific qualities and the correlation of the conformation to the standards and production of the individual sheep. The pictures, video with instructional narrative helped me to put the words of the judge into a visual interpretation. I am also able to look more closely at my sheep determine what is the most critical traits for production of lambs.
Look for those who can guide you to learn more about your breed of sheep. Are there any sheep studs who have produced similar videos for education of your breed of sheep? Are there groups you can join who will look at videos and pictures of your sheep, giving an honest assessments without being mean or disrespectful?
When you do get feedback from others concerning your sheep, do not take it as a personal criticism. The people are giving you feedback on the sheep, not your abilities as a sheep farmer. Fresh eyes can point out good and negative traits we may not see, as we are looking at our sheep everyday.
I know my sheep are in need of improvement. Currently, they are mostly commercial sheep. I want to improve my sheep, but I also wanted to improve my eye.
One gentleman in the face book group, put on a video of a three year old ewe and wanted others feedback. Most talked about the plain head. One person who is very good at judging Dorper sheep stated the ewe was a “Cull”. The group was baffled. I and others looked and looked for why this ewe was a cull.
Finally one person asked why is this ewe a “cull”. Response was she had no utter, no proof she had ever lambed… 3 year old ewe with no utter showing she had lambed – CULL. The man was aware when he posted the video she was a “cull”, but he had kept the ewe for three years, only when he sold his commercial flock did he spot her in the group. He was a little embarrassed he had kept this ewe, but a lesson was learned by the group because he shared his “mistake”.
He wanted to sharpen the eyes of those in the group to look at the whole animal, not just the obvious conformation, but whole animal according to age. Numbers may show we are making a profit as a whole business, we need to look at individual sheep. When we are evaluating our own flocks, to look closely at the individuals, their age and their productivity.
You cannot improve what you do not see.
Thank you for stopping by. Until next time,