Dorset Sheep

Introduction to Polled Dorset Sheep

Dorset Stud Rams at McDermit Ranch

The Canadian Sheep Industry is experiencing challenging times for the producer who has to face increased costs and lower profit margins.  What can he do to protect his interests and face the future with hope?

Dorset Ewes at McDermit Ranch

The obvious answer is to look for a breed of sheep that will fit in with other farming enterprises, improve profit margins and reduce overheads.  Ideally, it should be prolific, easy to handle, versatile, hardy, able to breed at any time of the year and not be reliant on a high level of additional nutrition.

If you are looking for a sheep that is adaptable to any altitude or climate, then this should be your choice of breed.  Polled Dorset sheep will provide a regular cash flow by producing lambs frequently – three times in two years if you wish.  It has an economically produced carcass.

If you prefer cross breeding, choose a ewe or ram that will pass many of the above characteristics on to its first cross females, thereby improving your profit margins on your existing stock.

If this is your aim, look no further than the Polled Dorset Sheep.

Standard of Excellence for Polled Dorset Sheep

Bold, masculine appearance, with good length, strength and of robust character.  May weigh up to 250 lbs (113.5 kg) when mature.

Appearance bright with feminine characteristics.  Skin color is pink while the hair on the face, legs and ears is white.  Medium size and naturally prolific, so depending on management, lamb crops may attain any figure from 150% – 180% or more.  Growth rates of up to 1 lb (0.45 kg) per day are frequently recorded, producing dressed carcass weights from 40 – 50 lbs at 100 days of age.

Fleece of good quality and staple, compact and firm to the touch.

General Characteristics


Broad, full and open at the nostril, well covered with wool from brow to poll, face white with pink nose and lips free from pigmentation.


Medium size, white and firm, well covered with hair.


Even, well set jaw with flat chisel shaped teeth, meeting a wide pad with a firm bite.


Short to medium length and round, well sprung from the shoulders, with no depression at collar, strong and muscular, especially in the Ram.


Well forward, full and deep.


Full, with no depression behind the shoulders.


Well laid and compact.


Broad, long and straight, with well sprung ribs.


Full, broad and deep with flesh extending to the hocks and well muscled thighs.


Well set up in a line with the back, wide, firm and fleshy.


Well sprung from the back and deep at the sides.

   LEGS & PASTERNS: Medium length, well placed at the four quarters and free moving, straight between the joints, with strong bone, well woolled to the knees and hocks with pasterns well set up and straight.

Fine “down” type wool, dense and firm handling, free from kemp and colour.

History of the Polled Dorset

The Polled  Dorset is descended from the Horned Dorset, which has been one of the most popular breeds in Southern England and Wales since the 16th century.  It is now one of Canada’s most popular breeds.  Polled Dorsets originated in a flock at the North Carolina State College in the United States and were accepted into the U.S. registry in 1956.  Since that time, they have spread into Canada and become a major contributor to the commercial lamb industry in this country.  The ewes are prolific, good milkers and breed out of season.  They adapt well to confined, accelerated crossbreeding programs as well as grass-based operations.  The lambs gain quickly to 60 lbs, and if creepfed, can weigh 100 lbs or more at 100 days of age.

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