Continued Education

There is a group on facebook that post pictures and have discussion through the comments on conformation of the sheep posted. The purpose of the group is not to sell Dorper sheep, but to learn and teach others what the breed standards are and how to evaluate your sheep and breeding program.

Recently, a person posted a picture, and there was a lot of negative comments concerning the conformation of this sheep. The owner had posted the picture to draw attention to this sheep and others that were consigned to an online auction. After three negative comments, the owner began posting mature pictures of their sheep, trying to prove they did not have bad sheep. The owner became defensive, not understanding the purpose of the group. Several people in the group posted comments trying to inform the owner the purpose of the group was to learn to evaluate sheep. Honestly, the young ewe that the owner posted was not that good of a ewe, commercial quality at best.

In our ignorance, we think our sheep are Grand Champion quality, when they are barely commercial quality. It is important to refine our evaluation skills in order to purchase quality rams and ewes, improving the next generation of our flocks.

It is hard sometimes to realize the sheep you raised and was wanting to be the Grand Champion is not that quality. I have had many disappointments in learning what the breed standards of Dorper sheep, and the quality of my flock.

Do I want to raise and show a Grand Champion Dorper? Absolutely. Do I have a Grand Champion Dorper that I have raised? No.

Learning from judges and those who are knowledgeable in the breed standards is a beginning step to improving my flock. Do the comments stating what the faults in my sheep hurt? No, due to my perspective on why I posted the pictures. I am there to learn the good and bad points in reference to the conformation of my sheep.

Two sets of eyes are better than one, and this is true when looking at your flock. Visiting or having someone visit you that has been raising your breed of sheep can improve your knowledge to select and breed or cull your sheep and rams.

I came into raising sheep from a horseman background. I judged horses in the show ring, showed and bred horses. Just learning the terminology for the conformation of the sheep is an ongoing task. Getting together with other sheep farmers helps me to understand what they are talking about and looking at. I have not found a dictionary of sheep terms yet. When I do I will be sharing as I think other beginning sheep farmers struggle with the vocabulary as well.

Even as a horse trainer and exhibitor, I would have someone with equal or more knowledge watch my horse and give me their thoughts. This only helped to improve my performance.

Two sets of eyes are better than one.

Keep learning and improving.


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