The Development Of
The Australian White Sheep Breed
The Australian White Sheep breed was developed by three leading Australian sheep stud operations, namely Highveld International, Tattykeel and Baringa. Together, we saw an opportunity to develop a uniquely Australian sheep breed, able to fill a gap in the market that no other imported or local breed is able to adequately fill.
Having identified what we considered the ideal traits in a modern meat sheep, the result is the development of the Australian White, a breed ideally suited to Australian conditions and one which perfectly suits modern Australian lamb market demands. The breed produces hardy, large framed, heavy weight lambs that reach slaughter weights early.
The breed features a unique gene mix that ensures high reproductive capabilities, making it an ideal breed to be run as a self-replacing flock. Alternatively, rams of the breed are well-suited for use as terminal sires in a crossbreeding system to increase size, weight and growth rates in sheep flocks of other breed types. This is particularly true in flocks where a hair type is preferred over sheep which carry wool; breeders can thus remove the need for shearing.
Good walkability, combined with strong mothering instincts and a high degree of vigour in lambs; these are all considered essential traits of the Australian White breed. The Australian White is a stabilized composite breed, made up of certain proportions of White Dorper, Van Rooy, Poll Dorset and Texel blood.
The Australian White has an open breeding season and is early maturing. It is a white sheep with an overall hair pattern and has good shedding ability. It is a relatively large heavy breed, standing over a lot of ground; but one with good mobility and the conformation to ensure its ability to walk freely in large, open range country.
Learn More About The Australian White
In size, mature sheep are somewhat shorter in stature than Poll Dorsets but significantly taller than White Dorpers, with more leg underneath them. Lamb weights from 3 months of age and onwards are very competitive when measured against all other Australian meat breeds. The breed can be described as being heavy, but without exaggeration in conformation.
Created by using only the best conformed foundation animals drawn from the four breeds used in its creation, the Australian White captures the best traits derived from its founding breeds.
The formal development of the Australian White has taken nine years, although Highveld Stud’s crossbreeding experimentation with these four breeds first started in 1999. Extensive use of modern reproductive technologies during breed development ensured rapid generational turnover, allowing the breed to quickly stabilize in both type and conformation.
Today a number of Australian White breeders continue with the original process of controlled upgrading from the four original source breeds. This ensures that new blood is continually introduced to the breed, thereby maintaining genetic vigour, whilst avoiding too close inbreeding.
View the Australian White Breed standards here
Becoming Involved in the Breed
For those interested in getting involved in the breed as stud breeders, two options are available:
• The purchase of purebred breeding stock from registered breeders (live animals or in embryo form)
• An approved upgrading programme is available, as laid down and determined by The National Australian White Sheep Society Ltd (NAWSS).
This upgrading programme involves securing a Poll Dorset or Texel ewe base from which to start.