I'm in southern California and have White Dorpers and they have very good feet and legs. When mine are out on rocky pasture they don't need their feet even trimmed. I only had to trim 2 that were kept in a well bedded stall for a couple months. They had such hard hooves we used a bolt cutter on them! Since they have been out on pasture their feet wear off naturally. It could be that I have bloodlines that have bred good feet and legs, and was fortunate to buy from those good breeders. I think you have to breed for those genetics as well as for meat.
I also don't have a problem keeping mine in pens or fences, or working with them. However, that may be because they are the White Dorpers. I also don't have several hundred which might make a difference in how they act. Ours are fairly tame and will come up to be petted, even the older ram that was field raised. I understand the black headed variety is ornery and can be mean tempered, according to a breeder that has both varieties. She prefers the White Dorpers although they breed the black headed Dorpers because they are more popular with the buyers.
Those Damaras have extremely long legs. I have never seen a sheep breed with legs that long. Does their native home have lots of thick brush that they need to step through? Also, with the horned sheep do you have trouble with your fences? When we had horned animals they were more destructive than the polled varieties. You seem to have such expansive pasture that the horns are probably not a problem. The grass looks great.
Is the Australian White a different breed? What went into it? I am really interested in these different breeds. Every breed of animal in the world has been developed for its specific place in terrain climate, human need, etc. The original English breeds were developed for various types of grazing from marsh (Romneys) to pastures (Dorsets, Suffolks, and all the breeds named after various counties) to the Shetlands on stark hills in Scotland. Really interesting to see what people are developing now for human use and need.
The Sheepmaster looks similar to a White Dorper but if the developer did not use Dorper breeds to develop it, what did he use? I would like to know.
G'day and thank you Ridgetop for your interesting and well thought out reply.I will work my way through you questions and hope I cover all of your points.
Down here there was no emphasis on the need for "black hooves" and so the growth is "soft" and the edges "roll over" if they are not on hard ground.The next time i have to attempt it I am going to use the same hand tool the farriers use on horses hoofs and see if it is any easier,the main thing i guess i have learned over the years is do not cut the heel as it will wear naturally once the hoof is an even length.As to temperament our shearing stand is a raised board and the sheep go up a ramp to the catching pen (can put up a pic if anyone needs to see to understand).So the sheep are in fact above me by about 4 feet and so they can generate considerable speed down the ramp coming at you and weighing as do between 80/100 kgs in our old Suffolk rams you quickly learn to "vault" the rails and get out of the road.Even in the new flock the W H's and the Aussie White are over 60 kgs and have little respect for what the farmer wants.On the issue of containment,many newbies were sold these previous Nomadic Breeds unused to fences for centuries and like Goats frequently "test" the fence lines and once they have broken through they "never forget" and the other thing "down here" is they watch the Kangaroos go through fences and endeavor to follow them.It was always the case we would get other peoples "problems" when you purchase through the auction barns.But in the end the new wire layout has proved to be "more than a match" for even the worst of them.Its our experience that the B.H's are no worse than the W.H's.
Originally I did not want to have Horned Sheep in the new flock,but having added some I now do not worry,because unlike the Merino's their horns are carried close to the head and the horned breeds have certain characteristic's which I desire to include in the new composite.The Damaras are in fact a dessert breed and need to be able to cover vast distances in a given day as they were mostly driven along by nomadic herders.They are the most "alert" sheep I have ever come across and form a dense mass of animals when confronted, i suspect that those long legs and big bodies provided the energy to escape from predators after a couple of thousand years getting away from lions.I am hoping that a couple of generation down the track i will have "toned down" this alert nature somewhat and will retain the protective nature without the extreme flightiness of the breed.
Modern composite's seem to have all come from similar starting points, in the case of the Aussie White the developer refuses to tell exaltly how he did it,but i think their is a lot of Van Rooy,Dorset,White Suffolk and East Friesain along with some others which i cannot identify at this point of time.
I hope this post has been of some interest and value......T.O.R.
Super interesting! I imagine the long legs and neck enable the Demara to stand taller so they can see approaching predators.
For hoof care here we just use plain old garden hand pruners on our goats and sheep. Trimming the outside edge at an angle enables the inner hoof to wear off to avoid cutting into the quick. The hooves on our White Dorpers are white hooves, but super hard and wear down naturally on our hard rocky soil. I haven't had to trim in a year.
The shearing stand I used was the milking stanchion with a sheep head piece designed for fitting show sheep. My sons, and the current shearer just shear the sheep on the ground, flipping the sheep onto their butts and holding them as they shear. I can't do that any more. Hair sheep are easier. There is very little market in America anymore for wool. Some people with special fine wool breeds sell fleeces on line for the hand spinning trade.
Wool makes the best coats. I bought two parkas several years ago, one a wool blend, the other a synthetic. I used the wool blend for my go to town coat, as it is warm and pretty. I abuse the synthetic, getting it wet and dirty. the wool is MUCH warmer and sheds water better....shoulda gotten TWO wool coats.
Wool is always the best, except for down which is also good. I have an old wool zip up vest which I won't get rid of and wear under my jackets when the weather is really cold. YES! It can get cold here in southern California, and since the cold spells are interspersed with 80-100 degree temps sometimes you have no opportunity to get used to the cold weather gradually.