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New Zealand Sheep breeds

Dorset Down

The Dorset Down was popular in Britain from about the 1820s and was produced by mating Southdown rams with the large Hampshire Down (Hampshire), Berkshire and Wiltshire ewes. It was first introduced to New Zealand in 1921, but soon died out. Today's flocks are evolved from stock imported from 1947 onwards.

The demand for lean meat made the Dorset Down a good sire for the production of prime export lambs. The Dorset Down was crossed with the Southdown to produce the South Dorset Down. The rams are very virile and sire lambs with high meat to fat ratio.

The full-handling and springy wool is used in specialised industries (such as paper-making felts) and is often blended with other wools to give extra elasticity and crispness. It is used in the production of high-quality hosiery and fine knitting wools.

Meat breed used as a terminal crossing sire. Short, Down wool with some pigmented fibres. Carcase is lean and high-yielding.

On lowland pasture throughout New Zealand.

Medium-sized sheep with brown face, ears and legs with wool on poll and cheeks.


Body weight:
Ewes: 60–80 kg
Rams: 100–130 kg

Wool production:
Fibre diameter: 26–29 microns
Staple length: 50–75 mm
Fleece weight: 2–3 kg

Lamb production:
100–140 per cent


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