While Dorper sheep were first bred in South Africa in the 1940s, it is only recently that their superior characteristics have begun to be recognised internationally, and the agricultural industry has begun to take advantage. The Australian Food & Farming Group (AFF) is recognised as a pioneer in this regard, having brought the first Dorpers to Australian shores, currently owns a thousand stud ewes for breeding high-end genetics, and more than 9,000 commercial sheep for operational production.
In their hunt to produce a sheep that combined the best characteristics possible, South African farmers choose two very different breeds to cross; originally a combination of the Persian Blackhead sheep, and the Dorset Horned sheep.
Selected as breeding ewes for their hardiness and excellent fertility, the Persian Blackhead grazes like a goat, in arid environments where they could not afford to be picky. Adapted to life in the harsh climate of South Africa, they deal well with the highest and lowest temperatures on offer. Persian Blackheads are also famously easy breeders, allowing for the possibility of 3 lambings every 24 months.
On the other side of the equation was the Dorset Horned, a more traditional, Western sheep. It complemented the Persian Blackhead by being a non-seasonal breeder, meaning it didn’t only breed in the Autumn. The mix of this non-seasonal breeding capacity with the fertility of the Persian Blackhead has produced Dorpers, a sheep capable of reproduction every 8 months.
In fact, the characteristics bred into Dorper lambs are now so desirable in other sheep breeds that Dorper rams are actually being used to transfer the fast-growth and non-seasonal breeding capacity into other lines, such as Katahdin and Texel sheep.
For their part, Dorper lines should only get stronger, displaying these traits even more intensely as the breed is selectively bred even further. Its surging popularity likewise means that demand will likely drive these evolutions faster than they have already been occurring naturally.
This logically means that there is less wastage that will occur in the flock cycle, with fewer and fewer weak and undesirable strains displayed, producing more high-quality meat, and delivering better value holistically as a rich source of protein.
Alongside rising populations, in particular, the rising global middle class, more protein is forecast to be required to meet diet standards and one of the reasons AFF are strategically improving the efficiency of meat production in their Dorper lambs through gene pool management. Fundamental to this is the AFF’s ownership of the genetically supreme rams which possess desirable traits such as high metabolism, weight gain, physical strength and calm temperaments.
Due to the Dorper’s high fertility rate, short gestation period and year-round breeding season – AFF is able to expedite the genetic management process to retain only high value produce, which is passed on to consumers. Through these practices, AFF are primed to fill a gap in the market as the premier and recognised lamb brand in Australia at a time when food demand is growing.
Investors seeking an investment opportunity not correlated to global markets could consider the AFF Key Advantage Fund which targets 15% p.a returns and can learn more here.
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