Dutch Spotted Sheep are a relatively new breed to UK. They are a particularly attractive sheep to look at and while this is an added advantage to any breed, they are becoming established commercially, with great potential in the production of prime lambs and crossbred ewes. Commercial farmers and butchers are finding that they fit the bill and they are increasingly sought after for commercial purposes. Their good temperament and ease of management makes them a good choice for any pedigree breeder regardless of their flock size. They are great for any substantial farming system, but equally happy in a smallholding.
DSSUK currently runs sales at Carlisle and Welshpool as well as at Beatties Livestock Sales in Northern Ireland and NSA Builth Wells where members can sell their sheep. Showing classes are available for the breed at many major shows, including Great Yorkshire Show, Royal Lancashire and Shropshire among others. The Society National Show is held at the Great Yorkshire Show in July.
Based on descriptions and studies of paintings owned by the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, we know that the Dutch Spotted Sheep originated around 1800. Generations of farmers and old documentation confirm that Dutch Spotted Sheep were kept in an area in the west of the country, commonly covered in lakes, bogs and swamps. Farmers reclaimed the area using connecting embankments and needed a hardy breed of sheep to maintain the grass but more importantly to eat any saplings. The sheep had to be able to walk long distances, due to the length of the embankments and also to withstand the acidic PH level of the peat bogs. They selected the traditional Dutch Spotted Sheep for the task and ultimately the breed played an important role in transforming the peat bogs into sod, strong enough to carry cows. During the 1950s, farmers began to make use of the specific qualities of the traditional Dutch Spotted and crossed them with other breeds, such as Texel and Zwartble, to produce a sheep with greater profitability and benefits with the characteristics of a modern breed. For almost three decades DSS have not been crossed with any other breeds and are now a pure sheep in their own right. There are over 1000 breeders in Europe, the majority of whom are in Holland with registered flocks in the UK, Germany, France Spain and Eire.
• Thrive on a grass-based system producing a quality meaty carcase
• Light boned with a large framework
• High killing out percentage, lean meat and a unique taste
• Easy lambing with lambs getting up quickly to suck
• High yielding with plentiful milk
• Good mouths and excellent hard feet
• Mature weight Females 75kg - 95kg Males 115kg - 135kg
• Easy to handle with an inquisitive nature
QUALITY FROM START TO FINISH IN PRIME LAMB PRODUCTION
We saw our first Dutch Spotted sheep at the Royal Welsh Show in 2017 and were so impressed with them we bought two, a shearling ewe and a ram lamb. A few more were purchased in 2017 and the Williams flock was started.
Over the past three years, as well as breeding pedigree sheep, we have been using Dutch Spotted rams on Blue Texel x Zwartbles ewes to upgrade females and also on Suffolk x mule ewes to see how the lambs perform as commercial sheep. All ewes lambed easily with only assistances for abnormal presentation.
I am Managing Director of H G Blake's abattoir near Norwich processing 800-1000 lambs per week for mainly supplying to butchers shops in East Anglia. These lambs are all sourced from local farmers who we have long standing relationships with, advising on breeding and feeding to produce consistent top quality lambs, weighing 20 - 25kg and target grades of 'R' or better and mainly 2/3L/3H fat cover.
We have Dutch Spotted rams being used in two large commercial flocks this Autumn, where the lambs will be identified and assessed throughout the whole process. One of these producers, Mr Alan Peck, who finishes in excess of 5000 lambs per year for the abattoir, off grass, turnips and other forage crops, purchased a Dutch Spotted ram lamb in 2019 and used him on an assortment of commercial sheep, including ewe lambs. He had excellent results with very easy lambing and fast growing, resulting in easy finishing lambs, that will be fit for slaughter in the next few weeks. Alan is keen to purchase more rams to use this year.
I also own two butchers shops in Norfolk; Clarkes' Farm Shop, just north of Norwich and Impsons in Swaffam and between them they use 10 - 12 lambs per week. The cross bred lambs have been sold through the shops, to assess carcase yield and eating quality. The Dutch Spotted x Blue Texel/Zwartbles ewes have produced excellent lambs. These have gone from 1st cross lambs, being mostly black in colour to 3rd cross looking like really smart Dutch Spotted. Wether lambs killed at mostly E3L grades averaging 22.5kg carcase weight, off grass only. Dutch Spotted x Suffolk mules on the same system didn't have quite the conformation classifying mainly U3L and averaged 22.8kg. All lamb carcases yielded very well. Good long carcases with plenty of length in the loin with a large eye muscle. Eating quality is superb, with a lovely soft texture to the meat, very tender and full of flavour.
ANDREW & HAYLEY CLARKE, WILLIAMS FLOCK DSSUK