Why Bellevue Dorpers

Dorpers are the ultimate low-maintenance, high-yielding meat sheep.

The unique and quality Namibian line of genetics that launched the Bellevue Dorper and White Dorper stud at our first ram sale in 2008 were a game changer for us. To have a breed of sheep that is so hardy, and so productive in dry and challenging conditions is remarkable.

Since then we have been constantly monitoring and adapting this quality line of genetics with emphasis placed on measuring LambPlan data, research, new technologies and very importantly, visual selection.

This commitment has created a solid platform for genetic gain in our rams with each new generation. It allows us to give our clients the information and confidence they need to select rams that will suit their particular management and environmental requirements.

Every Bellevue ram that we sell is a product of a breeding program that places maximum emphasis on measuring and selecting for our commercial clients’ prime lamb needs. Optimum yields, early maturity and weight gain, enough fat for excellent eating quality and maternal traits, visual selection for structural correctness, quality, temperament and soundness.

The Dorpers have really stood up well in the harsh drought conditions. The breed has been a good natural fit. We find with our clients in the pastoral country, they are a very good fit, especially where producers have invested in exclusion fencing. The Dorpers have really stood up well in these harsh drought conditions that we’ve been experiencing.

Our commercial prime lamb enterprise allows us to ‘ground truth’ our rams. Carcass competition success backs up the fact that Bellevue’s strict selection criteria is delivering a quality, high yielding, early maturing prime lamb. We aim to sell a finished prime lamb from about 44kg live weight. 2018 saw Bellevue lambs win Champion Pen of Carcass Lambs and the Reserve Champion Pen of Carcass Lambs at the Warwick Show and Rodeo Society’s annual Prime Lamb Carcass Competition. 2017’s competition saw Bellevue win Champion Single Lamb (yield 55.7%) and 1st, 2nd & 3rd Single Prime Lamb. Our best yield was 56.4%.

Our region on the Darling Downs in Southern Queensland has been drought declared for the last three+ years, and while our cropping operation has struggled, our Dorper stud and commercial prime lamb operation continues to deliver a consistent return. It is nice to have a breed that has the ability to thrive during tough, dry conditions on your team. Many of our ram buyers are from pastoral/western areas with big acres and challenging conditions, they need to know their rams will produce in their conditions.

Because we run an intensive livestock and cropping enterprise, we need to keep our management tight. EID’s are used in all 3000 ewes, stud and commercial. All information is recorded with reports easily retrievable through the stud’s ‘Stockbook’ program.

We work around strict joining dates, limited to 35 days, followed by pregnancy scanning 40 days following ram removal from the joining group. Birth tagging and weighing stud lambs is a massive job here, as we endeavour to tag within the first 12 hours following birth. By doing this we are able to accurately monitor birth weight, mothering ability and identify which ewe owns which lamb/s before any opportunity for stealing and swapping of lambs can occur.

Ewes are ‘wet and dried’ at lambmarking, with underperformers removed from the flock. Weaning weights are recorded giving accurate data on the ewes mothering and the rams contribution to growth. Post weaning weight is measured, gauging the lamb’s ability ‘to do’ following weaning.

An accredited Lambplan assessor then tests all stud lambs for fat and eye muscle depth (EMD). Maintaining positive fat is important to us, as the Dorper breed is a maternal breed, and having enough fat is an important trait for pregnancy, milking, mothering and do-ability, especially when conditions are dry.

Because we have accurate birth dates, Lambplan can then accurately assess all of the measured traits, (weaning weight, post weaning weight, fat and EMD), based on the age in days of the lamb, and the number in birth (single/twin/triplet) and brings these animals back mathematically to a level playing field.

All of this information is then bundled up at our ram sale in the form of the ‘Bellevue Ram Evaluation Guide’ which is available electronically before sale day or in printed format at the sale. We present to our commercial prime lamb producing clients a full selection matrix based on visual assessment, performance recording and objective Lambplan data. This information gives the Bellevue ram buyer, enough information on their desktop to make valuable selection decisions based on their particular breeding objectives and environment. Backing this up, each lot is videoed and presented through an Auctions Plus interface to buyers who cannot attend our sale in person, giving them the opportunity to purchase with confidence.

Biosecurity at Bellevue is critical to our ongoing success. Maintaining a clean, healthy flock, free of disease is a priority for our operation. Bellevue is Brucellosis free accredited.

Rams are available all year round, with the ‘top of our drop’ offered at our annual ram sale. For any information, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

David Curtis

Bellevue Dorper & White Dorper Stud Principal

April 2019

Read more about our breeding philosophy.