The Dorper is a fast-growing meat-producing sheep. The Dorper is an easy-care animal that produces a short, light coat of wool and hair that is shed in late spring and summer. It was developed in South Africa and is now the second most popular breed in that country. The Dorper Sheep Breeders Society of South Africa was founded in 1950.
This breed was developed by the crossing of a Dorset Horn x Blackhead Persian around the 1930s. Other breeds such as the Van Rooy are also believed to have contributed to the development of the White Dorper breed. The name 'Dorper' is a coupling of the first syllables of the parent breeds Dorset and Blackhead Persian.
The breed is well adapted to survive in the arid extensive regions of South Africa. It has high fertility and maternal instinct, combined with high growth rates and hardiness. The breed has the characteristic black head.
The Dorper is the second largest breed in South Africa and has spread to many other countries throughout the world.
Lambing percentages in South Africa of 150% are not uncommon, as well as an average fecundity of 160%. Rams reach sexual maturity at an early age; rams have been observed to start working by five months. Live weight gains that allow lambs to reach about 36 kg (79 lb) (17 kg (37 lb) - 18 kg (39 lb) carcase) in 100 days has been obtained from first cross animals grown in the Mallee region. Local experience indicates that carcasses with fat scores of 2 to 3 to be easily obtained under these conditions.
White Dorper genetics have also contributed to the development of the Australian White sheep breed.