Monday, September 2, 2013

Dorper Sheep "It's What's for Dinner"

I grew up in West Texas where beef was king.  Both of my grandparents ranched and raised cattle.  My father raised cattle, and beef was on the table nearly every meal.  A few times in my life I had mutton or lamb and it was alright but had a taste I really did not care for compared to beef.  The sheep the meat came from were wool sheep.  To make a long story short we have not been a sheep eating family and only ate it if served somewhere we had to be or as a guest.

Here in Central Texas many ranches have been diversifying from just cattle to meat sheep and goats as a new livestock.  Most of the sheep are a hair breed of sheep known as Dorpers that were developed in South Africa and brought to Texas in the 1990s.  They were developed to forage and thrive on a broad range of grazing conditions.  Dorpers have tender mild meat and can put on weight in arid conditions while being able to breed year round.  Dorpers are a hair sheep and shed the winter coat so there is no need to shear them each year.  They come in a black headed variety or all white, many flocks are mixed with both colors.  This meat type breed is doing very well in Texas and is here to stay. 

We have decided to raise Dorper sheep on our little place in Lampasas and I have been looking forward to trying some Dorper meat to see if it would be one we produce for our own table or just to sale off what we raise.  Over the Labor Day weekend I was invited to a Barbecue at KOBO Ranch west of Lampasas.  My host Karl Oestreich was cooking meat on a large barbecue pit fueled with oak coals.  Along with brisket, jalapeno dove poppers, sausage and the trimmings Karl was cooking some homegrown grass-fed Dorper lamb.  At the table I was amazed at the taste of the lamb.  It had none of the strong sheep taste I was use to tasting in lamb.  It had a mild flavor I would compare to prime beef and was very tender.  I can assure you that Dorper sheep will be on my menu in the future.  Give it a try you might just find it will be in your future.  Wild Ed

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