Dorset – Horned

Horned Dorset Ram

Breed Type: Dual-Purpose Breed
Country of Origin: England
Breed Association Website: dorsets.homestead.com

The Dorset is an ancient breed likely developed from white faced, horned, short wooled sheep that thrived in the sheltered valleys and lush hill pastures of southwestern England. Today, the Dorset is globally distributed and found in two varieties, Horned and Polled. The Dorset Horn (or Horned Dorset) is of conservation interest.

Dorsets are white sheep with open faces and long bodies. Ewes weigh 150–200 pounds, and rams weigh 225–275 pounds. The sheep are avid grazers and use feed well. Ewes are heavy milkers, easily able to raise their own lambs. They have also been used in dairying. Dorset sheep produce between five and nine pounds of medium grade wool per year. In the Horn variety, both ewes and rams carry horns. Ewes’ horns are light, curving forward neatly; rams’ horns are heavy and spiral out as well as curving forward.

The single most important attribute of the Dorset is its extended breeding season, also called nonseasonal or aseasonal breeding. This characteristic, not found in any other British breed, is an important performance trait. Sheep of most breeds are seasonal breeders, mating in the fall and producing lambs in the spring. In contrast, Dorsets can be bred in the spring for production of lambs in the fall. Some ewes will raise two sets of lambs a year, with multiple births not uncommon. Dorsets tolerate heat well, and heat tolerance contributes to Dorset rams’ ability to breed earlier in the season than rams of other breeds.

Dorset Horn sheep were imported into the United States about 1860, though the breed did not appear in large numbers until the 1880s. The Continental Dorset Club was organized in 1890. In the early 1950s, a genetic mutation causing polledness occurred in the flock at North Carolina State University. The Polled Dorset variety was developed there. (Polled Dorsets were also developed in Australia earlier in the 1900s, though they originated from the introduction of Corriedale and Ryeland blood into the Dorset Horn.)

2022 Catalog Cover Artist

Susan Due Pearcy has lived in the Agricultural Reserve in Barnesville, Maryland for 27 years and enjoys having sheep grazing next door and fibre artist friends nearby. She is continually inspired in her art and life by the natural beauty of her surroundings and works plein air in oil and pastel and creates her printmaking in Sugarloaf Studio behind her home...

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If you didn't brave the weather to come to last week's festival, but still want a festival t-shirt, you're in luck. Our online store at is being restocked with 2022 merchandise and should be ready by Monday, May 16, 2022 (they just need a little time to unpack the boxes that came back from the festival and see what's what). If memory serves, they will have two colors of short sleeve tees, a long sleeve tee, hats, aprons, fleece vests, sling bags and cinch sack/backpacks. Sorry, the large canvas tote bags are all gone.The online store is at www.sheepman.com/product-category/maryland-sheep-wool-festival-online/. You can also purchase these items in person at the Ceresville New Holland, Inc./Sheepman Supply Co. showroom in Frederick, Maryland. #mdsw2022 #festivalgear ... See MoreSee Less
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If you or anyone else receives an email claiming to be able to sell you a list of attendees of the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival, please ignore it as IT IS A SCAM. It has come to our attention that companies are emailing some of the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival’s exhibitors and attendees, claiming to offer our attendee email list. This is a common occurrence with large conferences and trade shows in recent years.It is our policy to NEVER sell, rent, or share attendee contact information. No company is authorized to distribute or sell any email lists of Festival attendees. The Festival is not providing this list nor generating these messages. How did they get your email? Software programs can crawl websites in search of email addresses that are listed on them (identifiable by the @ sign).If you receive an email offering to sell you a list of Festival attendees, do not respond to it. By responding—even with a request to unsubscribe—you confirm that your email address is a valid one, which may increase the likelihood that you’ll be contacted again. ... See MoreSee Less
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This little lost lamb kid's mitten was turned in to the Lost & Found and would like to find it's mate. There is also a handmade shawlette someone might be missing, along with the usual random assortment of items -- reading glasses, etc. -- and, no surprise, a folding umbrella and a pair of rubber boots. Message me or email if any of these sound like they might belong to you, or if there is something else you would like me to check for. #mdsw2022 #lostandfound ... See MoreSee Less
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