Dorper sheep breeding for over 20 years

Crissie and Lindsay Drummond at home on their 10 hectare lifestyle block.

Crissie and Lindsay Drummond dream of breeding the perfect sheep.

They have won awards for their meat breed Dorpers but the perfect sheep is still a work
in progress.

The couple who live on a lifestyle block just out of Ashburton have been breeding
Dorper sheep for the past 21 years.

They were one of the original importers of Dorpers into New Zealand in 2000. Their
involvement was instigated by a return to the South Island from Central Hawkes Bay.

“We were looking for a new venture and saw this new breed being introduced to New
Zealand at that time as an ideal opportunity to get into early on,” Crissie said.

The dorper sheep originate from South Africa and are a self-shedding meat sheep. They
were a low maintenance option for the couple who did not have a shearing shed.

They are also a breed that ‘‘gets under your skin the more you are around them. As with
all animals, there are some real personalities”.

The sheep fit with Crissie and Lindsay’s lifestyle. They have 80 White Dorper and Dorper
ewes, 20 ewe hoggets and 12 ram hoggets plus a handful of older rams.

“They are ideal on our small block here as they are a medium sized breed so don’t take as much feeding as some of the larger type meat breeds, but the ratio of meat they produce
is the same, if not higher.”

Dorper and Dorper cross lambs were known for producing high yielding carcasses. They breed all year round and generally lamb three times in two years although the Drummonds have ewes which lambed four times in the past two years.

“We’ve had two lots of ‘Covid-19 lockdown’ babies, lambing in May last year during the first
lockdown and again in August this year,” Crissie said.

The May lambing ewes lambed the previous spring and were mated again pre-Christmas, with additional lambing in January/February and then again in August.

“This out of season mating and lambing is a great option for us as we can produce more
lambs from our smaller flock.”

The Drummonds current operation has been fine-tuned over the years.

In the past they ran Wiltshire ewes while living on Maronan Road. The ewes were crossed
with White Dorpers to a fourth cross before they were eventually sold.

“We also imported and bred Australian White Suffolks for 10 years. However it was a
struggle to sell the purebred rams as most people wanted black face rams, she said.

The suffolks were eventually phased out and the Drummonds stuck with Dorpers which had stronger markets.

They were also a feature breed this year at the public-excluded Ashburton A&P Show
where the Drummonds won a Royal Agricultural Society of New Zealand medal for
excellence in agriculture.

“We feel very privileged to have been awarded this prestigious medal for our White Dorper
ram,” Crissie said.

“These medals are only awarded on certain occasions so it was very exciting when we
realised we had won. We are lucky that we have a pretty nice four tooth ram who came out
top of all the Dorpers being exhibited.”

There were around 50 sheep being exhibited by six breeders; five from Canterbury and one from Central Otago.

The Drummonds showed again at the Canterbury A&P Sheep Show, which ran in place of the usual New Zealand Agriculture Show and won every class entered.

It was no small feat as they were up against 52 Dorpers being exhibited by six breeders.

They also took home Supreme Dorper sheep of the show.

“(It) was an exceptional day for us,” she said, winning every class entered.

The day got even better for the All Breeds judging, with their White Dorper ewe hogget
winning the best meat ewe hogget class, and their ram winning the best meat breed sheep.

‘‘He was then up against the best wool sheep for the Supreme sheep of the show, which ultimately went to the Corriedale ram,’’ Crissie said.

The Drummonds source ram genetics from Australia and have exported genetics to South America with proven successes.

She admits it’s a labour of love, not a money spinner.

“Anyone who breeds sheep will tell you that you don’t make money from breeding sheep.

“We certainly enjoy the sheep and it’s a good distraction from our weekday jobs.

“You can’t beat walking around them at night after a day at work seeing the lambs grow and develop – it’s quite satisfying really.”