SVF Foundation

Dorset Horn

Dorset Horn Sheep

The Dorset Horn sheep are a unique British-derived breed. Dorsets are said to be an ancient breed, likely developed from white-faced, horned, short-wooled sheep that thrived in southwestern England.  As non-seasonal breeders, ewes can raise two to three sets of lambs in a given year, with multiple births not uncommon.


Dorsets are white with open faces and long bodies. Both ewes and rams have horns; rams’ horns are heavy, curving forward and spiraling out while ewes’ horns are light and curve forward.  These sheep are excellent grazers and have good feed efficiency.  The ewes are heavy milkers, which is a key attribute to their non-seasonal breeding capabilities.  They tolerate heat well, which also contributes to the ram’s ability to breed earlier in the season.


The success of the polled variety of Dorset sheep has almost completely obscured the horned variety, consequently the Dorset Horns are experiencing swift decline in registrations, making them a conservation interest.

About the Breed

Sheep graphic

Origin:
England

Distribution:
Global 

Uses:
Meat and wool

Status:
Threatened

Quick Fact:
The Dorset Horn is the original breed of the more commercial meat production and show sheep known as teh Polled Dorset. Horned Dorsets fell out of popularity when the tall,feminine Polled Dorsets outranked the stockier Horned Dorsets in the show ring and marketable qualities.

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