Dorper Sheep-The Answer?
There are many difficult issues facing the sheep industry and we are all made aware of these every time we attend a sheep meeting or pick up a sheep publication. We have predators, imports, high fuel and feed prices, labor shortages, inconsistent product quality, and a government that could care less about agriculture. What the United States sheep industry needs is a way to stay in business in the current situation we are facing. Predators could be more effectively controlled if the federal government did not outlaw the tools that the Australians use to stay in the sheep business. Imported lamb would not be such a problem if we were more efficient at raising them ourselves. The only way we can deal with high fuel, high feed prices, and labor shortages is to have a sheep that is highly efficient at raising pounds of lamb with virtually no input costs. Our sheep industry only pays for pounds in the current environment so product quality is of no concern. This is in contrast to each and every other food product you will see in a grocery store. And we wonder why we can’t sell lamb? Our industry has in the past fed lambs to 200 pounds and had to throw huge amounts of fat in the trash and this has ruined our product and lost us the consumer base we so desperately need. The lamb feeders in the U.S. have only their own interests at heart and to heck with the product that is put in front of the consumer. Meanwhile the industry stands silent while our product is ruined. The way to product quality is to have a target in mind as all other commodities have. What is the ideal slaughter lamb? No one in this country knows the answer to that question or they are not willing to stand up and say so for fear of upsetting someone else in the industry. For better or worse the days of the 200 pound fat lamb are over, in fact feeding sheep may be over for good in this country.
Our government has been quite detrimental to our industry. It sits idly by and creates regulations and offers cash incentives that have never helped our industry. Laws are created to help packers and importers while real producers are struggling.
With the exception of our government and predators, the answer to all the challenges to the sheep industry can be summed up in one word-Dorpers. You say what a bold statement to try to pass off. Who would believe that one breed holds the answers to many complex problems. Dorper sheep are a breed that is poised to take over a dying industry because they offer a consistently mild and tender lamb product while eliminating all the labor problems associated with wool production. They are highly efficient and can perform on pasture alone or on feed and produce a profit for their owner. When statements are made in our industry that there is “no breed” to accomplish certain tasks the naysayer has likely not had any experience with Dorpers. They are the answer if there is any answer to a revival of the U.S. sheep industry.
Half-Circle Six Ranches