FAQs: Choos­ing and Breeding

Choos­ing your sheep

Ini­tially choose sheep to suit your lifestyle.

Would you like a hard to con­trol, glam­orous, high main­te­nance Fer­rari? Per­haps one of the horned skit­tish breeds which think hedges and fences are to be jumped over or pushed through and have an inbred dis­trust of human­ity. An expe­ri­enced shep­herd can cope with these but a new­comer… Well good luck to you!

ewe with lambs

Dorset Downs are ami­able, friendly and eas­ily han­dled. I have described them as such over the years and never been found to be incor­rect. Like a dog they will come to name and like a dog bad man­ners, like eat­ing out of the bucket you are car­ry­ing, should be dis­cour­aged. A dog isn’t needed to work the breed, as they will fol­low a bucket. They are a laid-​back breed, too lazy to roam, love a cud­dle and a fuss being made of them, so make ideal pets.

Decide what you want the sheep for

Decide what you want the sheep for, lawn­mow­ers in rough bits of the gar­den, pony pals (use­ful if you don’t have room for a sec­ond pony), wool, or even your freezer.

I don’t rec­om­mend orphan lambs; a bag of milk is not cheap and they are time con­sum­ing. They have not had a good start to life, includ­ing being in a market/​lorry for most of the day.

Buy­ing from my pedi­gree stock you can see the sheep at home and see the wel­fare of the sheep as a whole flock and see how they react to strangers, along with my atti­tude to the sheep. The sheep are my friends, not just money on legs to me and I always rec­om­mend you let the sheep choose you.

You can eas­ily spot a happy healthy sheep!

Breed­ing

In 1984 a ram of Dorset Down breed sired 43% of Britain’s ewe pop­u­la­tion and was one of the main Ter­mi­nal Sires. Con­ti­nen­tal breeds became pop­u­lar & Dorset Downs slipped down the rank­ing. How­ever shep­herds of many breeds have realised the advan­tages of tra­di­tional breeds.

Dorset down rams are vir­ile and can be used on 40 to 50 ewes: one ram cov­ered 20 ewes in a 24 hour period. Their high pheromone level means they also make good Teaser Rams. Their small head & nar­row shoul­ders leads to eas­ier lamb­ing and can be used on any breed. Hill farm­ers are using Dorset Down rams to improve car­case style and fat­ten well off grass, thus reduc­ing costly feed bills.

  • I have a ram which was still fer­tile at 10 years
  • The ewes are good milky moth­ers & have a long breed­ing lifespan.
  • The Dorset Down ewe will take the ram most months of the year so will fit into most lamb­ing schedules
  • They will hap­pily lamb out­doors or inside a barn. We are in a flood­ing area so lamb indoors
  • Lamb­ing per­cent­age is 150175%
  • The pure bred Dorset Down lamb can reach an 18-​19kg in around 12 weeks

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