The Meatmaster is a composite non-fat-tailed sheep breed developed in South Africa. Since the late 1980s several sheep farmers realized that there was a national as well as an international need for an adaptable, economically viable and marketable mutton sheep, which can produce on the veld with minimum care and low input costs.
Based on the vision that by combining the characteristics of hardiness and fertility exhibited by the Damara sheep of Southern Africa and the much sought-after conformation of the Ile de France and Dorper types of sheep, a new composite mutton sheep breed could be created which would meet these requirements.
A Meatmaster should have 50% Damara blood, a Dorper component and it may include varying components from Ile de France, Van Rooy, SA Mutton Merino, Dormer, Wiltshire Horn and other sheep breeds. The Damara contributed specifically to adaptability, the characteristic of colour variation, coat shedding ability and resistance to various diseases. The contribution of the Ile de France, Dorper and Mutton Merino breeds were primarily aimed at the improvement of fat distribution, carcass quality and excellent flocking instinct.
The Meatmaster is very desirable to farmers in vast and dry area’s as they are easy to herd, are extremely hardy and have great motherly instincts. They also do not need to be sheared as they shed their coats annually. They tend to keep their condition in very arid areas but can accumulate a lot of fat in times of abundance.
A Dorper is a fast growing, meat producing sheep that is easy to care for and needs minimal input of labor. Its fleece produces little wool, which is shed late spring/ early summer. The breed was developed in South Africa and is now the second most popular breed in the country but has also spread to many other countries around the world.
The Dorper is a cross between a Dorset Horn and a Blackhead Persian. The name “Dorper” is the coupling of the first syllables of the two breeds “Dorset” and “Persian”. The breed has the characteristic black head but, also comes in pure white which is called the “White Dorper”
The Dorper was developed for the arid regions of South Africa to convert low quality roughage into high quality lamb. The breed is regarded as having the ability to browse, which suggests it will consume plants seldom eaten by other breeds like the Merino.
The Merino breed is a dual-purpose breed, being bred for both their wool and their meat. It has been around for ages and originated from southwest Spain in the 12th century. The Merino’s history in South Africa can be traced back to 1789, when the Dutch Government donated two Spanish Merino rams and four Spanish Merino ewes to Colonel Jacob Gordon, the military commander at the Cape.
Later introductions (1891 onwards) included American Vermont and the Australian Wanganella and Peppin Merinos. It was soon clear that the Australian varieties were more suited to South African conditions and these formed the bulk of the Merino imports in the early years.
Selection for adaptive and functional traits over a period of 200 years led to the emergence of the South African Merino – a locally developed breed that is on a par with the best of the world. The Merino is a medium frame white wool sheep. Merino wool has a uniform crimp, soft handle and is free from deviating or coarse and colored fibers. On average 60% of the income is generated through meat production and 40% through wool production.
Wool is used in blending with other fabrics, manufacturing of medical applications, health garments, protective clothing, and aerospace products. Merino wool is odorless, price competitive, has natural UV protection, breathability and moisture management. It is machine washable and tumble-dries perfectly.
The SA Merino is found in the drier Northern Cape Province, on the fertile lands of the winter rainfall areas of the Western Cape and in the Karoo veld and Grassveld areas of the Eastern Cape and Free State. It is now by far the largest breed in South Africa with 11.25 million sheep and that makes up over 50% of the total number in South Africa.
Merino Lamb is genetically lean, succulent, rich in flavor, low in kilojoules and rich in protein, iron and vitamins. The fine grain allows for meat of a delicate flavour and tender texture after cooking. Almost all cooking methods can be used with the different cuts including grilling, barbecuing, braising, stir frying, pan frying, roasting and stewing. Merino lamb is delicious served hot or cold and lends itself to being flavoured in many delightful ways.