The Dorset Horn is one of England’s oldest breeds of sheep, the first flock book being established in 1892, and from which a hornless strain, the Poll Dorset has been developed. The densely grown wool of both the Horn and Poll is of the highest quality being completely free from grey fibres and remarkably white even before scouring.
The Dorset Horn Sheep Breeders’ Association was established in 1891 for “the encouragement of the breeding of Dorset Horn Sheep at home and abroad and the maintenance of the purity of the breed”. The association’s first Patroness, in 1892, was Her Majesty Queen Victoria.
During the late 1950s hornless Dorset sheep, developed in Australia, were introduced to the UK and rapidly grew in popularity. By 1974 there were more Poll Dorsets registered than Dorset Horns and in recognition of this the Association’s name was changed in 1981 to the Dorset Horn and Poll Dorset Sheep Breeders Association.
The ewes are of medium size, weighing approximately 85kg and the rams 120kg. They produce 2-3kg of fine fleece with an average staple length of 8-10cm and a Bradford Count of 54 – 58.
Since the early 1900s the breed has spread throughout Britain and, more recently, into Europe, displaying an ability to cope with very varied climatic conditions. Their outstanding characteristic has to be the ewe’s ability to breed at almost any season of the year in order to obtain lambs more frequently than just once annually therefore they are frequently maintained on a basis of three crops of lambs in two years.
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