The Development of
The Australian White Sheep Breed
Some years ago, two leading Australian stud sheep operations saw an opportunity to develop a unique Australian shedding sheep breed, to fill a gap in the market that no other imported breeds of this type could adequately fill.
Through a long working association, the well known principles of the Highveld White Dorper and Van Rooy sheep studs and the Gilmore family of the renowned Tattykeel stud sheep brand came to realise the enormous potential of developing a wool-less sheep breed that was tailor made to suit the exacting requirements of Australian processors, but which would also suit the demands of specialist lamb producers.
Hence, the development of The Australian White”. The result is a modern synthetic breed that produces a large framed, heavy weight lamb which are hardy and which reaches ideal slaughter weights quickly.
A breed that can be run as a self replacing flock or, one which can supply rams in a terminal system to increase size, weight and growth rates in crossbred flocks designed for meat production.
In developing the breed, the main objectives were to combine as much hardiness and do-ability with growth rates and carcass weight, into one breed, as was possible to achieve.
Additionally, exceptional walkability, good shedding ability, strong mothering instincts and a high degree of vigour in the lambs, were all considered essential traits to be incorporated into the breed.
The question may well be asked why another shedding breed is needed when Australia has a number of other imported established breeds of this shedding meat breed type.
Highveld Stud is the original importer of the White Dorper and Van Rooy Sheep into Australia, and today is one of our leading Australian stud operations. Having had the longest experience of any stud with these two breeds, Highveld had come to realize that while the two breeds mentioned had, together, revolutionized the way in which lamb is produced in Australia, over vast tracks of land, these breeds still did not offer a complete solution in the medium term.
Highveld began to realize that for much of Australia’s inside country and for significant areas of stronger mixed cropping country, the White Dorper could not produce the growth rates, or size of lamb at slaughter age, that traditional cross bred lambs could achieve with good feed in front of them. It was also found that White Dorper cross bred lambs produced off a smaller type of merino ewe base became smaller in size over subsequent generations when repeatedly back crossed to White dorper rams. While the Van Rooy breed helped producers retain size in these types of lambs if that breed was introduced into the mix and improved the shedding ability of the flock, there was some loss of good carcass attributes if this breed is used too often.
Additionally, many station country producers complained that their flocks started to have walkability or mobility problems once the Dorper content of their flocks began to increase significantly.
Consequently, and after much discussion and thought, Highveld stud and the Tattykeel operation began a carefully structured programme to create a new breed of sheep that could answer these concerns, and which could be used as an important conjunct in creating white, shedding, cross bred meat sheep flocks that could really perform for producers, in the country on which they farm.
Taking these considerations into account the Australian White breed was born.
The Australian White is a synthetic, stabilised composite breed made up of certain proportions of White Dorper, Van Rooy, Poll Dorset and Texel blood. In producing the breed a very controlled programme was embarked upon to produce a composite breed of high stability in breed type and functional traits.
Consequently, The Australian White is a large, heavy breed that stands over a lot of ground; but one with good mobility and the conformation to ensure its ability to walk freely. It is early maturing and has an open breeding season. It is a white sheep with good shedding ability. The gene mix ensures a breed that has high reproductive capabilities, which make it able to perform as a self replacing flock, if need be.
In size, mature sheep are somewhat shorter in stature to Poll Dorsets but significantly taller than White Dorpers with more leg underneath them. Lamb weights, accessed at 3 months and onwards, are very competitive when measured against all other Australian meat breeds. The breed can be described as being heavy, but without exaggeration in conformation.
Created by using only they best conformed and bred animals drawn from all four breeds used in its creation, The Australian White is unique as a breed in that it has been created from the very best performing base stock, drawn from two of Australia’s leading stud operations.
It comes in two forms to suit the particular needs of producers. One type has black feet while the other has white; one suiting producers in heavier country that can become wet, while the other suits those that prefer their sheep with white hooves.
For those interested in getting involved in the breed in the early years of its development, an upgrading programme is available and approved by The Australian White Sheep Breeders’ Association of Australia.
This upgrading programme involves securing a Poll Dorset or Texel ewe base from which to start.
Those interested in starting such a flock should contact the Association for details:
The Australian White Sheep Breeders’ Association of Australia
1. The Chairman, Mr Graham Gilmore
Ph. 02 63358116
Fax. 02 63358116
Mbl. 0427 358116
2. The Breed Director, Mr Alan Baron
Tel: 02 68488158 / Fax: 02 68488123