The Rangeland Journal The Rangeland Journal Society
Rangeland ecology and management
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Introduction of Dorper sheep into Australian rangelands: implications for production and natural resource management

Yohannes Alemseged A B and Ronald B. Hacker A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A NSW Department of Primary Industries, PMB 19, Trangie, NSW 2823, Australia.

B Corresponding author. Email: yohannes.alemseged@dpi.nsw.gov.au

The Rangeland Journal 36(1) 85-90 https://doi.org/10.1071/RJ13034
Submitted: 16 April 2013  Accepted: 14 November 2013   Published: 2 January 2014

Abstract

The growing popularity of the Dorper breed of sheep potentially may have implications for the ecological sustainability of the semiarid and arid rangelands of southern Australia. The implications are heightened by forecasts of a warming and drying climate in these rangelands, which may in itself place native vegetation under increasing stress. While the Dorper breed of sheep offers important production advantages, little is known from research under Australian conditions about their grazing ecology and management requirements from a natural resource perspective. Key factors identified from this review of literature from other countries include a high fertility and fecundity, a generalist feeding strategy, a high growth rate and a capacity to survive and reproduce under low-rainfall conditions. The wider range of plant species selected by the Dorper compared with the traditional Merino breed of sheep potentially creates both opportunities and risks for rangeland condition. Less selective grazing may reduce pressure on some species but the capacity to harvest sufficient nutrients over a smaller area could concentrate grazing and promote resource degradation. High reproductive efficiency under a wide range of seasonal conditions may lead to more rapid onset of overgrazing and will require close attention to both natural resources and animal marketing if resource degradation is to be avoided.

Additional keywords: diet selection, Dorper sheep, grazing behaviour, reproduction rate.


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