Meet the Sheep! These are Dorpers and not known for their wool. Dorper’s are bred for their meat and self-shedding coats. I raise mine to help clean the land and the wool…well, I repurpose the wool in my wet felting projects. The best way to get the wool before it’s felted is to BRUSH your Dorper.
FACT: Texas is the largest fine wool producer in the U.S.
FACT: All wool has purpose regardless of the breed of the sheep.
Breeds raised at The Sheepwalk Farm and Hand Dye Studio
Dorper – “The Dorper is a South African breed of domestic sheep developed by crossing Dorset Horn and the Blackhead Persian sheep. The breed was created through the efforts of the South African Department of Agriculture to breed a meat sheep suitable to the more arid regions of the country.” Source: Wikipedia
“The Dorset or Horned Dorset breed of sheep is known mostly for its prolific lambing. It has been known to produce two lambing seasons per year: bred in May for lambs finished by the holidays, and bred again immediately after the first lambing to produce again in March or April.” Source: Wikipedia
“The Blackhead Persian is a fat-tailed breed of domestic sheep from Africa.The sheep is originally from Somalia and a direct descendant of the Somali sheep. The breed is also a type of hair sheep, meaning they do not grow wool and tolerate heat better than wooled breeds and are raised primarily for meat.” Source: Wikipedia
Why is the above important to know? At face value the Dorper is just considered a breeder and meat producer. What they don’t care about is the wool that appears during winter and then falls away towards the summer months. Some Dorpers will spend years shedding a coat growing new coats under old one’s. This is the Dorset shining through.
In crossing my Leicester with the Dorpers, the Dorset traits are drawn out even more and we ended up with two types of lambs: short waxy curls and long, lustrous waves. The longer wool lambs resemble a Navajo-Churro while my two waxy curled lambs resemble their Leicester father.
Leicester Longwool – The Leicester Longwool thus named for its characteristic long locks of wool is an English breed of sheep. The breed was raised for both its wool and meat often favored over other breeds for the meat. My Leicesters come from Fuzzy Ewe Farms based out of Boerne. Julie Lebowitz fell in to this breed when she started rescuing sheep. She learned by doing, so-to-speak, and has allowed me to own one of her rams and ewes. (See photo of Honeysuckle, unregistered due to leg issues).
Lorper – The Lorper is a cross between the sturdy Dorper and the meat and wool heavy Leicester. Both breeds are known for their meat factor but Dorper wool is short and requires de-hairing. I opt to keep the wool with hair because it felts just as nicely as a karakul or Navajo-churro. Ironically, two of my Lorpers resemble the Churro.
Suffolk – “The Suffolk sheep is a breed of domestic sheep from United Kingdom. It was originally developed in England as the result of crossing Southdown rams on Norfolk Horned ewes. The result of this cross was an improvement over both parent sheep breeds. It is a black faced, and open faced breed and it is raised mainly for meat production.” Source: https://www.roysfarm.com/suffolk-sheep/