Farm Table says:
What is the problem?
The Dry Sheep Equivalent (DSE) is a standard unit used to compare the feed requirements of different classes of livestock or to assess the carrying capacity and potential productivity of a given paddock. Field Metabolic Rates and Water Turnover Rates of Dorper sheep were assessed under the semi-arid condition of western NSW to establish their DSE rating.
Such studies are urgently required in order to support the management decisions of Dorpers, which may be quite different to those of traditional Merinos. This information will enable an improved assessment of the potential for differential impacts on rangeland resources.
What did the research involve?
The study was conducted at Fowlers Gap, the Arid Zone Research Station of the University of New South Wales, Australia. The station covers approximately 39,200 ha and operates as a commercial sheep station. Vegetation is dominated by woody shrubs (< 1 m), chiefly of the family Chenopodiaceae. Rainfall is variable, with a yearly average of 236.7 mm. The study was conducted during a mild austral winter between late June and early July 2014.
Mature Dorper and Merino sheep were mustered using motorbikes from their home paddock and moved to an onsite shearing facility for processing. Average initial body mass of Dorper and Merino was 43.18kg and 38.08kg respectively.
What were the key findings?
On average, the initial body mass (live mass) of the two sheep breeds was not significantly different.
There was no significant breed difference in the average change in body mass during the experimental period and for each breed the average body mass change over the experimental period was not significantly different from zero.
This trial has shown that Dorpers should be rated equal to Merinos based on body weight.
There was no difference in either FMR or WTR between Merinos and Dorpers indicating they have the same feed requirement per body weight and therefore no difference in their DSE rating. However the two breeds differ in reproduction rate and diet selection and therefore stocking rate decisions should take into account these differences.