White Dorpers win blue ribbons

GALAXY Ironbark and Galaxy Oakwood seemed singularly unimpressed by the flurry of attention around them in their paddock yesterday. With a camera standing ready, their breeders, Rod and Rosalie Smith, draped the six-month-old rams with evidence of their weekend triumph at the Sydney Royal Easter Show.

YOUNG STARS: Rosalie Smith with Sydney Royal grand champion Galaxy Ironwood and Rod Smith with the Royal Reserve Champ Galaxy Oakwood.

YOUNG STARS: Rosalie Smith with Sydney Royal grand champion Galaxy Ironwood and Rod Smith with the Royal Reserve Champ Galaxy Oakwood.

Ironwood was crowned Grand Champion White Dorper Ram, any age and Oakwood snagged the Reserve Champion sash. 

Despite the glory in the ring, Rod said the significant achievement for them was Ironbark’s first-place award in Objective Measurement class. The evaluation reflects the raw statistics about the meat-breeding quality in an animal.

“You know, judging in the ring is subjective, and the objective measurement is facts and figures. 

“When that animal goes in, it is weighed, assessed for its weight against its age, and then it is scanned for fat thickness and eye muscle area and eye muscle depth.”

“We’re looking for muscle, structural soundness and muscling to produce meat,” Rod said.

“This is really why we went to Sydney, because we wanted validation of what we’ve been doing as far as our breeding aims are concerned.”

Rosalie said they had been warned competition could be thin in the Dorpers, but upon arrival in Sydney, it seemed they had been misinformed.

“When we got there, we had a quick look around, and we thought, we very much had competition! In fact the little girl in the next pen belonging to another group, I just wanted to steal her. I thought she was quite beautiful,” she said and laughed.

The win took a bit of time to settle in for Rosalie.

“I was kind of stunned at the time. I really didn’t kind of register anything for a little while. I was pleased but it was more, ‘Goodness we did it!’”

Receiving the reserve with Oakwood didn’t click for her until the next morning, but she was still waving the sash around for the Objective Measurement Class when they got home.

“That really was the icing on the cake,” she said.

South African Dorper inspector Philip Van Schalkwyk judged the Sydney Royal class. Rod explained Mr Van Schalkwyk’s reputation precedes him.

“He is particularly known for being very strict on structural soundness and conformation. He described Ironbark as a high-quality ram with excellent muscling.”

The Smiths have been breeding White Dorpers on their property outside Inverell since 1999. They are impressed with the breed’s mothering ability, and breed for masculinity in their rams and femininity in their ewes. Rosalie added they also keep in mind the focus of commercial breeders to make their flock quality market-viable.

The couple are especially fond of working with White Dorpers. The breed is genetically apart from the black-headed Dorper after a cross-breeding program with foundation fat-tailed Van Rooy rams.

They counted good flocking ability and easy temperament for managing as excellent qualities.

“We never have a problem with the fences. We have kangaroos that go through the fences, apart from over it, but these are very territorial,” Roaslie said.

“We have never had a problem with all the years of our breeding with their temperament, which is a huge thing, I mean, I’m in my mid-70s and half crippled, so I don’t need an animal that’s going to be unpleasant,” Rosalie chuckled.

Rod said recent tour of shows in Guyra, Glen Innes and Bundarra had given them considerable success.

“In fact, at Bundarra, we had the supreme White Dorper Exhibit, who was a little ewe that we took. So we’re getting feedback that indicated that our breeding objectives are being realised,” Rod said.

Ironbark is out of a ram called Terra Weena 9042, from a Galaxy bred-ewe. Rod said in two weeks, the winning young ram will start his working life with some selected stud ewes.