Poll Dorset & Dorset Horn

Poll Dorset NZ

New Zealand’s Most Popular Terminal Sire Breed

Since its establishment, the Poll Dorset breed has been so well received by the industry that it has grown to be the biggest meat breed in both New Zealand and Australia.

Its large genetic base and individual flock size has allowed New Zealand’s dedicated breeders to identify superior traits within the breed and place the Poll Dorset at the forefront of the NZ sheep meat industry.

Poll Dorset

Breed Characteristics

The Poll Dorset‘s primary role has been that of producing superior prime lambs.

Its high growth rates, superior muscling and leanness make the Poll Dorset an ideal choice for today’s market requirements.

Additionally, the meat is succulent and tender.

Poll Dorset genetics have also been included in maternal bloodlines where it provides high lambing percentages, exceptional mothering and milking ability and an aptitude to breed over an extended breeding season, producing out of season lambs and 3 lambings in 2 years.

Poll Dorset sheep are renowned for their ease of lambing, hardiness and capability to thrive particularly when conditions are hot and dry.

Pregnant Poll Dorset Ewes
Pregnant Poll Dorset Ewes

Breed Description

Polled, open white face, pink nose and lips free from pigmentation, long carcase, good hindquarters, well muscled and free of excess fat. Narrow in the shoulders with a good head set. White wool, free of kemp.

80 – 120 kgs
reach puberty at an early age
Pheromone effect

65 – 75 kgs
exceptional mothering and milking ability
130 – 180 percent lambing

The biggest attribute of Poll Dorset wool is it is free of black fibres. Poll Dorsets also produce higher wool weights than any other terminal sire breed.

The wool is of medium micron, with high wool bulk.
This allows Poll Dorset wool to command a premium over other meat breed sires.

Poll Dorset © A J Brown, Aorere Farm, Oamaru
Poll Dorset © A J Brown, Aorere Farm, Oamaru

Performance Recording

Poll Dorset breeders have been at the forefront of breeding for improved genetic performance with members belonging to the National SIL Performance Recording Scheme.

Poll Dorsets have consistently performed in the top ten percent of rams on both the Central Progeny Test (CPT) and the Advanced Central Evaluation Trial (ACE) with Poll Dorset rams coming out first.

Breeders are using Ultrasound and CT techniques to assist them in the selection of superior sheep. DNA testing is also used to assist with selection for footrot tolerance and improved muscling.

Many breeders belong to Breeding Groups where top rams are often shared and the New Zealand Poll Dorset Breeders Assoc even has its own national across flock analysis to assist members to identify superior sires.

Visual Assessment

This is still an important part of sheep breeding. Visual assessment ensures sheep are structurally sound and have the correct conformation and characteristics that the commercial farmer requires.

All Poll Dorset flocks are Accredited Brucellosis free and the rams are inspected by a veterinarian prior to sale.

Ram Selection

  • Buy your rams from a registered breeder. This will ensure that the sheep are true to type and will produce the outcome you are looking for.
  • Select stock that will suit your farming system and country. Use the breeder’s records to ensure you acquire the best sheep for this requirement.
  • Make sure the sheep are structurally sound and healthy.
  • Talk to your ram breeder and explain to him your requirements and they can assist you with your selection.
Poll Dorset Ram
Poll Dorset Ram

Origin and History

The Poll Dorset Breed was developed in Australia by three prominent Dorset Horn studmasters who saw
the advantages of eliminating the horns from this great breed, but were determined to retain all its
qualities. Trials were started in 1937 with a purebred Corriedale ram and a purebred Ryeland ram mated with pure Dorset Horn ewes. The resulting polled progeny was then mated with
purebred Dorset Horn ewes, to eliminate all characteristics of the introduced breed except the
poll factor.

This practice was continued until 95 percent pure Dorset Horn blood was attained. In 1947 future
matings were poll on poll, therefore creating the double poll sheep and the Australian Poll Dorset
Breed was registered.

The New Zealand Poll Dorset Breed was founded in 1959 with the importing of a number of these double polled Australian sheep, by a group of New Zealand Dorset Horn breeders. In the following years, the New Zealand Poll Dorset Breed evolved to become the biggest terminal sire breed in the country with New Zealand genetics even being sold overseas.

A recent development in the breed has been the identification of a gene for increased muscling in the loin region of the animal.

Continued selection by breeders, performance recording and new DNA testing will ensure that Poll Dorsets remain at the top of the New Zealand sheep breeding industry.

Poll Dorset Ram hoggets - 10 months
Poll Dorset Ram hoggets - 10 months

Dorset Horn : Breed Description

The following standards of excellence were adopted by the Breed Committee on 22 June, 1988.

Long, bold masculine appearance and carriage with strong bone and of a robust character.

Appearance bright, with feminine characteristics, with high milk production and will breed out of season.

Back & Loin:
Broad, long & straight.

Tail setting:
Well set-up.

Wide, with good length between hip and pinbone, with flesh extending to the hocks and well muscled thighs.

Legs & Pasterns:
Good length, well placed, strong bone, straight between the joints.

Shoulder blades should be slightly lower than the spine and sloping away to a smooth setting with excessive movement when walking.

Should be clear of excess fat.

Good length, moulding into the shoulders, finer towards the head and such that the sheep can hold its head in an alert position.

Horns set straight out from head curling forward. Open white face, open nostril, with pink nose and lips free from pigmentation.

Medium size, white and firm, well covered with hair.

Even, well set jaw, with teeth meeting in a wide pad with firm bite.

Bold, eyelids free from pigmentation and well covered with hair.

White and compact.

Even, high bulk fleece, good character, free from kemp and black fibre.

In defining the above Standards of Excellence, the Breed Committee agreed that these are the points breeders should strive for, but a small degree of compromise should be tolerated

Dorset Horn
Dorset Horn

2018 NZ Agricultural Show - November, Canterbury

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