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     Dorset Down
 

 

2008 Watchlist; Category 5, Minority.


Dorset Down Sheep are justly known as "king of the prime lamb breed". One of the oldest breeds of native sheep, Dorset Down Sheep have a prestigious history as well as a successful future in the British farming landscape. The Dorset Down is renowned for producing early maturing lambs from grass, making them ideal for organic, and other extensive farming systems. The Dorset Down Ram is also proven as the ideal Terminal Sire to virtually any other breed of sheep making it the ideal solution for modern, commercial flocks.

The Dorset Down is a compact, medium-sized sheep, with a good depth of lean flesh. Historically the breed has been used as a terminal sire to produce quick-maturing lambs from crossbred ewes. However its numbers have been declining and the breed is now on the rare breed watchlist as vulnerable meaning that there are less than 900 breeding ewes.

Ewes and rams are very quite and docile, easy to manage and shepherd, especially at lambing time, and they are wonderful mothers who produce very active lambs at birth. The Dorset Down ewe will take the ram in most months of the year, is apparently unaffected by extremes of temperature and being docile and adaptable is ideal for close winter housing.

The fleece is one of the most highly valued British fleeces. The wool is short and fine in texture on mature sheep, while good tight wool on the lambs resists bad weather. Fleece weights range up to 2.177kg washed and up to 2.450 kg greasy. The British Wool Marketing Board classes Dorset Down wool as one of the highest grades in the country; considerable quantities of it go to the hosiery trade.

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Dorset Down twin lambs

Dorset Down Twin Lambs

 
 
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