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Thread: Dorset sheep

  1. #1
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    Dorset sheep

    Hey up, anybody on here run dorsets which lamb 3 times in 2 years or even just normal amount of lambings? Keen to hear from anyone that has any or has any info, thanks

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    Re: Dorset sheep

    Hi gavd
    I don't run Dorset sheep myself in Britain, but involved in Australasia's largest flock of Dorset Horns and Poll Dorsets. Both breeds are capable of out-of-season breeding with Dorset Horns being as close to aseasonal as any European breed. Ile de France are similar to PDs.
    I wish to point out that seasonality is quite sensitive to changes in daylight and the closer to the equator the better the success of breeding out-of-season. SW of UK is the home of Dorset use for early lambing. This is as much about the daylight effect as early spring grass. If you are farming in the Aberdeen region you are really pushing things to get a successful out-of-season mating at that latitude. I suggest you will have to rely heavily on drug induced oestrus irrespective of breed.
    Not only does daylight affect the ewes but also the rams. Again I would be careful about which rams go out to work if outside the normal breeding time in your region. Rams will mount ewes (males are like this!) but their semen quality may be too poor to get ewes pregnant. Without doing a semen test, check to see if they are pinked up prior to joining them with rams if using out-of-season. A Regulin implant (melatonin) to rams at least 2 months before commencement of natural mating may be essential if out-of-season.

    As an upside of both Dorset breeds......you may not do better to find a breed with better milk production especially in early lactation when supply is more critical than any other stage of the lambs' growth curve. The high milk production heritability of the Dorsets make them very good to produce a cross bred ewe for intensive lamb production off grass. On-farm trial in NZ has shown that Dorset x Ile de France sired lambs have a 21% weaning advantage over Border L sired lambs all out of Merinos. But the first cross Dorset ewes weaned 17% more lambs than Border x ewes and had an average weaning weight at 13 weeks of 26% ahead of lambs from Border x ewes. All this generation of lambs were sired by Southdowns and all sheep were run together after mating except at lambing for 3 weeks to tag according to breed of dam. Trial had 768 lambs.

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    Senior Member andybk's Avatar
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    Re: Dorset sheep

    assuming poll dorsets , ? great breed , but needs to be crossed with charollais or texel for best results , not all polls will lambs out of season, you tend to buy hoggs in may put them to tup and keep those selling the rest in autumn breeding sales , that way you build up a early lambing flock , 3 times in 2 years is possible , but you will burn your ewes out and they wont last as long, best lambed early (oct ) if you have winter grass and get lambs away before worms and flies get going, used them for years and the best breed we ever had (excepting feet !) dorsets will milk really well but lambs will get to fat and are not the best grading for conformation , (despite the reference schemes )thats why you need a good muscular sire thats not over big , and the halfbred females work well also with only a slight loss in lambing time in the first cross . Watch feet and the biggest framed dorsets may be crossed with ill de france which may also hinder lambing performance ,

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    Re: Dorset sheep

    Ohh i live in wensleydale before i start.
    Not sure i can be of help as mine are polled dorset x nc mule. I havn't tried very early lambing or 3 times in 2 years so i dont know how early the halfbred will breed, however because i dont have any teaser tups i just put my entire tups in with the ewes for 3 days. Last year i didnt get any early lambers but 2nd week of dec they went in and resulted in about 20 early lambers out of 500. The next cycle the tups went in and resulted in 350 sheep to lamb in first 2 weeks of jan and another 100 the next two weeks. Never bought them to do 3 in 2 years as cake is expensive enough and sheep need a rest to get there scanning % right... pointless lambing 3 times and just getting 3 lambs.

    Polled dorset is a big sheep, if you get a barren shearling that is sold in the autumn without having lambs they get huge! Certainly gets some looks in the auction mart, but they stay small enough if worked hard. They generally put on a bit of extra weight every year and so apparently fetch a high cull price.

    My ewe cross doesn't have the confirmation of a texel x mule, but then i bought them for growth rate for the early market and thats what they are good at. They certainly grow quick put to a meatlinc or charollais here.

    One word of warning is they are about as opposite a sheep to tim w's as you could get... i'm finishing dagging mine out today and they have wool all over there bellies, legs, udders, arse, everywhere... sometimes you do wish you didn't have big fat hairy sheep

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    Re: Dorset sheep

    Great info guys very informative, didn't know that about closeness to the equator. What sort of lambing % do u guys aim for or get?

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    Re: Dorset sheep

    A guy we shear for runs dorsets and lambs them 3times in 2years seems to get great results and sells a lot of his lambs through a butcher his sire of choice is charollais and are very good lambs they lamb early with no sponging or injections they always struck me as being a bit soft however never kept them so may be a silly comment as i have no first hand experience

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    Re: Dorset sheep

    I'm quite taken with the 3 x in 2 years idea if it could be made to work up here, looking at best sheep options for a small area lowland farm. Have some dorsets and like them. Basically want max profit from smaller area and the 3x2 seems a good option, any more info on it? Sounds promising that there are people achieving it without the sponges etc. My current other idea is a nucleas flock of NCC makin NCC mules put to a terminal sire. Would like a closed flock in either case, ta

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    Re: Dorset sheep

    Why lamb 3 times in 2 years? It means that two of those times you are competing with most other breeds which are probably better at it. Poll dorsets (selected for early lambing) will provide lambs for the high priced early market. Otherwise you are wearing them out quickly for no great advantage. Autumn lambing either pure for replacements or crossed Charollais for easter market.

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    Re: Dorset sheep

    + there isnt much of an easter market, the supermarkets tend to keep selling hogs until supplies run low, which usually covers march through most of april. The spring lamb available is usually very expensive. May through to early june is when it hits its peak so you dont want to be lambing too early, its a long time without cheap grass!

    In fact with the lateish market you might be better off sowing your fields to the earliest grass varieties you can find, italian, hybrid, westerwolds, early prg, put on part fert and lamb in feb to the quickest growing sheep. Charollais x cheviot back onto charollais? Charollais put to meatlink etc. Could be cheaper than feeding alot of creep when theres no grass @ 300+ ton then selling in march at a lower price than in may?

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    Re: Dorset sheep

    Ok how about keeping a small nucleas of pure poll dorsets put to a Charolais tup for a main flock of char x poll dors. What would the charxpoll ewe be like? Don't know much about chars but mayb a good cross with more wool and milk? How would this compare to say NCC mules for lambing % and finishing lambs on grass? Char x polls put to a terminal for selling lambs and not replacements

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    Senior Member andybk's Avatar
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    Re: Dorset sheep

    Quote Originally Posted by gavd View Post
    Ok how about keeping a small nucleas of pure poll dorsets put to a Charolais tup for a main flock of char x poll dors. What would the charxpoll ewe be like? Don't know much about chars but mayb a good cross with more wool and milk? How would this compare to say NCC mules for lambing % and finishing lambs on grass? Char x polls put to a terminal for selling lambs and not replacements
    exactly the cross we used to breed and use , the halfbred will loose some of the out of season lambing , best to try and use three quarter dorset , quarter charollais (using a dorset on halfbreds) back then to charollais , will retain best of out of season lambing but be far more vigorous and better conformation . lambing at about 150% + (charollais x adds % vigour and conf/ dorset mothering milk , wool and easy wintering lambing etc if decent grass avalaible )

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    Re: Dorset sheep

    Take it from a Charollais breeder that also has maternal crossbreds, the Charry will add nothing to the maternal qualities of your ewes. They will add carcass quality, growth rate & prolificacy, but they will also add work around lambing/early lactation.

    On the 3x in 2 years, when I started at Harper they used to run a flock on that system, using Cambridge x Finn Dorsets IIRC. Although the results looked good on paper, I have never seen such a shocking flock of sheep to look at. They always looked worn out having never had time to recover condition, and I'm pretty sure there weren't many aged ewes there. I remember doing a student practical session where we trimmed the badly overgrown feet on the slaughter weight lambs! I remember thinking at the time that they'd found a good way of building work & costs into a system.
    They packed it in a couple of years later, and went to Lleyns lambing conventionally.

  13. #13

    Re: Dorset sheep

    Has anyone lambed mule X Dorset sheep in November?

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    Re: Dorset sheep

    Quote Originally Posted by anitatackley View Post
    Has anyone lambed mule X Dorset sheep in November?
    not sure you would get them early enough without sponges , some will but would need sorting over time (some pure dorsets dont lamb early either )

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    Re: Dorset sheep

    Quote Originally Posted by anitatackley View Post
    Has anyone lambed mule X Dorset sheep in November?
    'Neighbour' down the valley lambs his hogs in April then gradually brings them earlier each year so by 6t or full mouth they're lambing in November. He is on good ground though - I think that makes a difference.
    Downside is he's lambing for months on end.

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    Re: Dorset sheep

    Quote Originally Posted by Global Ovine View Post
    If you are farming in the Aberdeen region you are really pushing things to get a successful out-of-season mating at that latitude.
    What is officially 'out of season' lambing for north of britain? I'm aiming for a january group but it seems I might not achieve it; the earliest kerrys i have found so far are feb in the south east....

  17. #17
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    Re: Dorset sheep

    I have bred Dorsets for 30 years plus.
    I have lambed 3 times in 2 years when the market is good for lambs.
    I've always had good results, but you have to remember that if you're working them harder you need to feed them harder. I've always had good milk yields, again you have to feed for it.
    Now having retired, I don't work my sheep so hard, or myself, but no other sheep breed floats my boat, despite having had many different breeds.

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