FEATURE BREED - POLL DORSET
THE Poll Dorset was developed in Australia in 1937, and has since gone onto become the most commonly used terminal sire in Australia.
Initially bred from the Dorset Horn, a small group of skilled sheep breeders worked to eliminate the horns while maintaining the desired carcase attributes – resulting in the Poll Dorset body type we are used to.
Poll Dorsets have growth rates and early maturity - key in any lamb production system.
Poll Dorsets have very high growth rates, enabling lambs to reach targeted market weights quickly.
Most Poll Dorset sired lambs are trade ready (18 – 22kg CWT) from 12 weeks of age.
The breed’s entrenched background is one of early maturity, meaning lambs are sale ready and finished for market at an earlier age.
This is a major advantage to the prime lamb producer, with reduced management costs and decreased stress on the ewe.
Poll Dorsets have the added advantage of continuing their growth through to heavy export weight lambs (28+kg CWT) - giving lamb producers marketing options for their business.
Lean meat yield (LMY) is the key measure of carcase value, and Poll Dorset genetics lead the way in LMY, resulting in higher value carcases.
Carcase evaluations have also shown an ideal fat to muscle ratio.
This, along with an attractive meat colour, is highly important in maintaining consumer appeal and taste acceptance.
Poll Dorsets also exhibit ideal muscle pat- terns - a large loin and shapely hindquarter result in a higher proportion of quality cuts of meat.
Poll Dorset sired lambs are renowned for their superior taste and tenderness, and are sought after by butchers in all market levels.
When it comes to wool, Poll Dorsets are known for their ‘downs’ type.
Downs wool is recognised for its density and springiness, making it ideal for doona and quilt production.
In a commercial lamb production system, the density of the downs wool contributes to a higher quality skin - these are more valuable in the trade and are used for high wear items such as ugg boots and car seat covers.
When it comes to reproduction, Poll Dorsets continue to impress.
Fertility is the greatest single parameter for profitability in a commercial sheep flock.
Poll Dorset sheep have no restrictive breeding period, meaning they have the ability to breed all year round.
In a purebred flock, normal lamb weaning percentages would be 120 per cent to 150 per cent - multiple births of twins and triplets are common.
While the majority of Poll Dorset rams are used as terminal sires, their long recognised high fertility, virility and functionality has enhanced their commercial acceptance.
WELL BRED: Poll Dorset rams are the most commonly used terminal sire in Australia.