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Kidadl Team

AUGUST 06, 2021

Did You Know? 17 Incredible Dorset Horn Facts

Dorset Horn facts, an ancient sheep breed native to the United Kingdom.

Do you remember the baa-baa black sheep rhyme in your kindergarten? This article will tell you about an expensive white sheep, but not the black one in the rhyme. Continue reading this article to know more exciting facts about a white sheep breed, the Dorset, which is primarily domesticated for commercial purposes (meat and wool).

From the life history of a Dorset, it is mentioned that this sheep, the Dorset breed has two variants, horned and polled Dorset. The exact origin of the Horned Dorset is unknown. Still, it is believed to be a cross-breed of Merinos imported from Spain and local tan-faced sheep similar to Portland sheep, while the Polled Dorset is a cross-breed of the hornless Corriedale and Ryeland breeds. A Dorset Horn Sheep Breeders' Association was established in 1891, and the first flock book was published in 1892.

To know more about the horned and polled Dorsets, scroll down through this article and if you like reading this, check out these klipspringer facts and the kudu facts.

Dorset Horn Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Dorset Horn?

The Dorset Horn is a British sheep breed.

What class of animal does a Dorset Horn belong to?

The Dorset Horn sheep is a mammal.

How many Dorset Horn are there in the world?

In the 1980s, the estimated population of Dorset Horn sheep in the United Kingdom is nearly 100,000 breeding ewes. After that, the population of Dorset Horn sheep drastically declined, and the current population is estimated to be between 900-1500 individuals across the world.

Where does a Dorset Horns live?

The Dorset Horn sheep lives in the lush hill pastures and the sheltered valleys of southwest England.

What is a Dorset Horn's habitat?

Most sheep in the world are kept as livestock in farms, while in the wild, sheep are naturally well-adapted to mountain habitats and extreme climates where other mammals struggle to survive. Therefore, it is presumed that the sheep, Dorset, also prefers mountain habitats.

Who does Dorset Horn live with?

Like other sheep breeds, the Dorset Horn sheep can cohabit with other animals. However, it is necessary to socialize them from a young age. Usually, Dorset sheep move in a group known as a flock or herd.

How long does a Dorset Horn live?

The Dorset Horn sheep is expected to live for 10-12 years.

How do they reproduce?

The majority of sheep breeds are known for seasonal breeding; they breed in the fall and produce lambs in the spring. In contrast, Dorsets are known for extended breeding, also called as non-seasonal or aseasonal breeding, they can breed in the spring to produce lambs. These breeding characteristics are not found in any other British breed. Dorset ewes have the ability to breed twice a year with a gestation period of about 145-156 days. Usually, they give birth to two to three lambs in a year. The weight of a lamb at the time of birth is around 5 -8 lb (2.2-3.6 kg).

What is their conservation status?

In 2007, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations had mentioned the Dorset horn breed as not at risk, while in 2019, the Rare Breeds Survival Trust mentioned it as at risk. However, the Rare Breeds Trust of Australia has classified the Dorset horn breed as vulnerable at the country level. In contrast, the Rare Breeds Conservation Society of New Zealand deem it a priority breed.

Dorset Horn Fun Facts

What does Dorset Horn look like?

A Dorset Horn is a large-sized, white-faced sheep with the country of origin as Dorset in southwest England. It has a pink nose, and its body, except face, legs, and belly, is covered with medium-length spongy white wool. As the name suggests, both rams and ewes of Dorset Horn sheep have horns. However, rams have large and spiral horns compared to ewes. Another Dorset breed variant, the polled Dorset, is a short-wool, meat-producing breed of Australian origin. The horned and polled Dorsets have identical characteristics except for the horns, the Poll Dorset sheep do not have horns.

A Dorset Horn sheep has a close resemblance with a pink nose Somerset.

How cute are they?

The white face and spiral horns make the Dorset Horn sheep appealing. Usually, the lamb looks cuter than the adult.

How do they communicate?

Generally, sheep make different sounds to communicate with each other in the flock. A high-pitched sound known as bleating or baaing is primarily used for contact communication, especially between ewes and lambs and sometimes between the flock members. The sounds made by domestic sheep also include grunts, snorts, and rumbles. Isolation from the flock commonly prompts the lamb to bleat.

How big is a Dorset Horn?

Like any other sheep breed, the Dorset Horn sheep male is quite taller than the female. Dorset Horn sheep males grow up to 37 in (94 cm) tall at the shoulder, while females grow up to 34 in (86 cm).

How fast can a Dorset Horn run?

The exact speed of a Dorset Horn sheep is unknown. However, most sheep breed can run at a speed of 20 mph (32 kph).

How much does a Dorset Horn weigh?

Like any other sheep breed, the weight of the Dorset Horn sheep male is more than females. The horned Dorsets are considered large-sized sheep, while the polled Dorsets are considered medium to large sheep. The weight of horned Dorset males is around 220-275 pounds (100 to 125 kg), while the weight of females is around 150-200 lb (70 to 90 kg). And the weight of male polled Dorsets is around 225-235 lb (102 to 105 kg), while the weight of females is the same as the horned Dorset ewes.

What are the male and female names of the species?

Like any other sheep breed, Dorset Horn sheep males are called rams, while females are called ewes. An adult castrated male sheep is called a wether.

What would you call a baby Dorset Horn?

Like any other sheep breed, the baby of a Dorset Horn sheep is called a lamb. Once the lamb reaches the age of one year, it is called a sheep or a hogget.

What do they eat?

Like any other sheep, Dorset Horn sheep is a herbivore and primarily feeds on leaves, grass, and hay.

Are they poisonous?

Dorset Horn sheep do not carry any venom in their body. So, they can be termed non-poisonous.

Would they make a good pet?

Generally, sheep are considered as a breed of cattle that brings income to the farmer. Usually, they are kept as livestock for milk, meat, and wool. However, the prolific breeding ability and superior quality meat of a Dorset Horn sheep make it an excellent commercial pet for poor farmers. The best sheep to be bred is the merino sheep.

Did you know...

Dorsets can adapt well to temperature changes, and especially they can tolerate heat. These heat tolerance characteristics of Dorsets contribute to their ability to breed earlier in the season than any other breed.

What are Dorset Horn sheep used for?

The Dorset Horn sheep is primarily used for meat and high-quality wool. The wool of a Dorset horn sheep is firm, spongy, and free from the dark fiber. Usually, Dorset Horn sheep produce 5-9 lb (2.3-4.08 kg) of wool every year with staple length ranging from 2.5-4 in (6.35-10.16 cm) and fiber diameter ranging from 27-33 microns. These characteristics of the Dorset wool make it perfect for sweaters, blankets, and hats.

Are Dorset sheep good for meat?

Yes, the horn Dorset meat is considered as superior in quality. That is the reason why the worldwide conservation status of this breed is classified as vulnerable. A genuine Dorset sheep breed is expensive, and it costs around 350 dollars.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these caribuo facts and dromedary camel facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable dorset coloring pages.

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