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  • South African sheep breeds: Dohne Merino

    SCOPE: This Info-pack provides a brief description of the Dohne Merino sheep breed. KEY WORDS: Type, Origin, Description, Production, Products, Distribution, Numbers.

    Recommended citation: Snyman, M.A., 2014. South African sheep breeds : Dohne Merino sheep. Info-pack ref. 2014/015. Grootfontein Agricultural Development Institute.

    Type Locally developed composite dual purpose meat and white wool breed.

    Photo: Marius van Heerden

    Origin of the breed When J.J.J. Kotze was appointed first Director of the newly established Dohne Agricultural Research Station near Stutterheim, he soon realised that the harsh sourveld environment at Dohne required a better-adapted and more efficient sheep type. He commenced breeding trials in 1939 and it soon became evident that crosses between the local Merino and SA Mutton Merino were well adapted and highly productive in the sour grassland regions around Dohne. A program was launched to fix the excellent characteristics of the first cross and, through inter-breeding and selection, to develop a dual-purpose fine-woolled Merino-type capable of high levels of lamb and meat production in the environment. By the 1950s a clear type had emerged and the new breed was becoming established commercially. By 1966 the number of breeders

    had increased to such an extent that a breed society was established. Description A medium to large framed white woolled polled breed. Rams and ewes are polled. Face should be free of kemp, covered with soft cream-coloured hair. No jowel pleats are allowed. The Dohne Merino produces white wool with a soft handle, well defined, even crimp and no kemp or hairy fibres. No coloured fibres are allowed.

    Photo: Marius van Heerden

    Production norms Production data of Dohne Merino ewes at Grootfontein

    Trait Average Body weight (kg) 66.0 Greasy wool (kg) 4.0 Clean yield (%) 73.0 Clean wool (kg) 2.9 Fibre diameter (m) 19.6 Staple length (mm) 82.8

    Staple strength (N/Ktex) 32.4

  • Lambs born / 100 ewes mated: 130 Lambs weaned / 100 ewes mated: 120 Slaughter lambs achieve a marketing weight of 40 kg at 4 to 6 months of age. Production data of Dohne Merino ram and ewe lambs at Grootfontein

    Trait Rams Ewes

    Birth weight (kg) 5.2 4.9 100-day weaning weight (kg) 29.9 31.1 8-month weight (kg) 46.3 37.8 12-month weight (kg) 60.3 48.6 Greasy wool (kg) 4.3 3.7 Clean wool (kg) 2.9 2.6 Clean yield (%) 68.3 70.5 Staple length (mm) 74.1 67.8 Fibre diameter (m) 17.0 16.8 Staple strength (N/Ktex) 35.5 32.0


    Meat - Lambs do not accumulate fat at an early age and can therefore be marketed at a later age and higher body weight.

    Wool - Dohne Merino wool is the closest to the Duerden standard with regard to crimp frequency of all South African wools.

    Photo: Johanette van Heerden

    Normal production environment The majority of the Dohne Merino sheep in South Africa are farmed with in the Eastern Cape, Free State and Western Cape provinces. Breed numbers There are currently 31 000 Dohne Merino ewes registered with the Dohne Merino Breeders Society. The total number of Dohne Merino sheep in South Africa is unknown.

    Photo: Johanette van Heerden

    References This info-pack was compiled from various sources of information. The text may contain extracts from the following: