What is a Poll Dorset?
The Poll Dorset is a short-wool, meat producing sheep.
Most commonly used as a terminal sire, the Poll Dorset contributes high quality carcase traits to the prime lamb industry.
Developed in Australia in 1937 from the Dorset Horn, a small group of skilled sheep breeders worked to eliminate the horns whilst maintaining the desired carcase attributes.
High Growth Rates and Early Maturity
Key in any lamb production system is the amount of time required to produce a saleable product. Poll Dorsets have very high growth rates that enable 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). This gives lamb producers marketing options for their business.
Outstanding Carcase Attributes
Lean meat yield (LMY) is the key measure of carcase value. 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 patterns. 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.
Poll Dorsets lead the way in producing market relevant sires. Breed development has resulted in a body shape that minimises birth difficulties, whilst maintaining carcase shape. Open, wool-free faces reduce wool blindness and minimises the problems of grass seeds in eyes.
Skins and Wool
Poll Dorset sheep have a ‘downs’ type of wool. Downs wool is known for its density and springiness, making it ideal for doona and quilt production. In 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.
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% to 150%. 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 also makes the ewes a productive maternal breed.
Poll Dorsets are well known for being excellent mothers. Their protective instincts and strong bonding ability mean that most of the lambs born will thrive. Milk production is good in both quantity and quality, enabling the lambs to receive optimal early nutrition.
The lamb production area of Australia covers huge range of environment conditions. The Poll Dorset breed has stood the test of time for its outstanding consistent and high levels of performance in all climates, over all maternal breeds, across all market weight ranges. The large gene pool within the Poll Dorset breed has enabled it to fulfil all market and management needs.