I got into dorper sheep also through the encouragement of my grandmother. She used to love to eat meat and mores o mutton. She maintained that among all the sheep breeds, dorper sheep had the tastiest meat. Since I have spent many a school holiday on the farm, I have seen how sheep are reared. I also have to concur with my grandmothers assertions that dorper meat is indeed among the tastiest.
Sheep farming in my view, is pretty straightforward. Once you plan for feed, shelter and keep up with the de-worming and vaccination programmes, it is fairly easy to raise sheep. In my case the sheep were let out to graze in a paddock. The only time feed was supplemented was during the dry season where hay and other green forage was given.
Sheep love salt/mineral lick. Among the farm animals, I think sheep are among the highest consumers of salt/ mineral lick. It doesn't matter whether you give it as a hard brick or powdered form. An amount of salt that would last our herd of cows a day or two would last our herd of sheep at most a day. So determined were they to have their daily dose of mineral lick, that a salt block offered no difficulty in getting as much as they wanted. When licking got tiresome, they would use their teeth to bite off bits of the block and chew it up.
Dorper sheep seem to put on weight pretty fast as compared to other sheep. This is a plus for farmers as they can be put up for slaughter from around 8 months onwards. Another reason why I believe dorper sheep are so popular is because of their twinning capability. Most of the sheep on the farm seem to twin very frequently. Getting an ewe birthing a single lamb is the exception rather than the norm. and even when they did get a single lamb most often than not, the next time it gave birth it would be twins.
Breeding is very important to keep the entire flock healthy. This meant getting a breeding ram almost every year so as to prevent inbreeding. Inbreeding causes a decrease in performance indicators of the herd, including growth rate, fertility and general health. Done correctly an ewe should give birth to a lamb (or set of lambs) twice a year. With the twinning trait, the herd can grow quite quickly in a few short years. An ewe is usually ready to breed within a year. Another advantage to dorper sheep farming.
Would I do it again?
With a good piece of land, and as they don't need to much as compared to dairy cows, it is one of the better sources of income (or supplement) on the farm. I wholeheartedly believe in dorper farming and would encourage anyone who has a decent plot of land to consider it. They were bred to do well especially in marginal lands, so that is another plus.
If you keep the dorper sheep as a flock, when they give birth it is usually around the same time. This is good for planning as also when selling, they can be sold as an age set.