Why Dorper Sheep
For the most part, the I O Ranch has always been a cattle ranch. I was first interested in running some sheep on the ranch as an economical and environmentally-friendly way to control weeds on the ranch. Sheep like to eat fresh succulent weeds and forbs, as well as grass. I chose the Dorper breed because they are very hardy, having been developed in South Africa. They are not a wool sheep. They are bred solely for their meat. They have a hair coat that will get thick in the winter, and then shed when it warms up in the spring. They don’t have to be sheared like a wool sheep does, and frankly, they do not have that “lanolin smell” that a wool sheep has.
The other obvious benefit of running some sheep on the ranch was that I would have some lambs to eat. I have always raised most of our own meat for my family, and I liked lamb, so it seemed like a good fit. I was very impressed by the taste of the Dorper meat. It has incredible flavor. I knew at that moment that I would be raising Dorpers the rest of my life.
Dorper meat is a little sweeter and milder than that of most other breeds. It does not have that “wooly-oily” mutton taste that some wool lambs have. It does not need to be covered up in overpowering sauces or jellies, and is best when prepared so that the natural flavor can stand on its own.