Named after the county of Dorset in England, the Dorset is one of the oldest and purest breeds in the British Isles. It was in the end of the 18th century when the breed became famous for accelerated lambing. It is said that centuries ago, Merino sheep were brought from Spain into southwest England and were crossed with a Welsh meat sheep, which produced the desirable all-purpose sheep with medium-soft wool and muscled carcasses of the Dorset. The breed became popular in the United States and Canada in the 1840s and Australia and New Zealand in the early 1900s. It was back in 1860s, when a gene mutation developed the Polled Dorset, which became the dominant type of Dorset sheep in the states by the 1950s. In the 1970s, the Dorset breed drastically changed again in the states, and two subgroups of Dorsets have emerged, the Show Dorset (created by using Columbiana blood to get the size that you see in show flocks) and the Production Dorset (which retained the true breed type traits of breeding, prolificacy, mothering abilities, milking capacity, and heavy muscling). Today, the Production Dorsets are easy-keeping sheep that produce lambs for all seasons and markets, making them one of the most versatile and popular breeds. It is one of the few dual purpose breeds. The ewes are excellent mothers, and the rams make great terminal sires.
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