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Origins and natural aptitudes
Of English origin, it was introduced into France from the beginning of the 19th century in order to improve the meat qualities of the French flock.
Its essential qualities are as follows:
Good conformation : The DORSET DOWN produces carcasses of 18-20kg, graded “E”and “U” on the ‘EUROP’ grid after an average of 110 days. The DORSET DOWN ram passes down its impressive meat qualities to its progeny, its conformation proving successful many times over in sheep shows.
Early finishing : Lamb weight at 70 days is around 25kg or more.
Easy management : It can adapt to outdoor or indoor production, the DORSET DOWN is capable of making the most of poor grazing and of maintaining protected areas.
Hardiness : Its hardiness and ability to make the most of meagre grazing show the remarkable adaptability of the breed.
Keen ram all year round : Both in and out of season, the DORSET DOWN ram is very active, resulting in excellent fertility in terminal crossbreeding on hardy breeds.
Since its introduction, French DORSET DOWN breeders have been improving the prolificacy and milk values of the ewes through monitored performance recording. The rams too have been improved in growth, conformation and elimination of excessive fleshy tissue.
The aim of the breed is to obtain sufficiently developed and well muscled breeders.
Sought after for its intrinsic qualities, the DORSET DOWN ram is used in crossbreeding to enhance the conformation and finishing of lambs of all breeds.