It was a huge surprise for us when in 2009 we had a set of twins born, one white and one colored. Having never seen a Dorset that didn't have the traditional all white body, face and pink nose we made some inquiries and learned that color did show up from time to time. From then on our journey with our Natural Colored Dorsets began.
In 2012 we were yet again surprised to find that not only did the Dorsets come in various shades of black and grey, but that they also carried the moorit gene. Put in simple terms moorit is the true brown. In terms of genetics it is recessive to the black and gray, and thus is more rare than the black and grey.
Natural Colored Dorsets
Never seen one? Well, now you have!
A Brief Background:
The Dorset is an English breed originating from Southwest England. Traditionally, it is an all white breed that can be both horned or polled (without horns). It is more common to find polled Dorsets, while the Horned Dorsets have been listed as threatened breed on The Livestock Conservancy's conservation priority list. One of the most unique characteristics of the Dorset is its ability to breed out of season and thus lamb any time of the year. Most sheep are very dependent on the seasons to cycle, this is why lambing is commonly associated with the spring. Dorsets also have strong mothering instincts, are good milkers, and have fast growing lambs. While most commonly used in meat production any fiber artist will enjoy working with their unique downy wool.
The Dorset breed associations consider any individual with color to be disqualified which has resulted in the lack of Natural Colored Dorsets. This stems back to the use of wool commercially. Commerical wool buyers exclusively purchase white wool because of its ability to absorb dyes. Natural colored wool does not take up dye as evenly or produce as rich of colors. This has led to the selection of white individuals as prefered.
Since then, we have developed a small flock of purebred Natural Colored Dorsets. We have a variety of colors and patterns which we have researched and have identified by consulting with those involved in sheep color genetics. Some individuals have horns while others do not. Our current goal is to develop a consistent fleece style in our flock. These sheep are unique and not something you will find at every fiber fair.