THE Prime Dorper Lamb brand is slowly building momentum, backed by workshops across Australia.
The breed, in Australia for less than 20 years, has enjoyed considerable wins in carcase competitions and a reputation for easy-care sheep with excellent carcase quality and yield.
Having grown to about 700 stud and commercial members, the Dorper Sheep Society of Australia has recognised the need to "differentiate" prime Dorper lamb from other breeds.
In the past two years, it has developed a logo and associated marketing material and is now working on a list of key suppliers on its website and a list of processors, retailers, butchers and consumers interested in the product.
To underpin the quality assurance, it is encouraging suppliers to become MSA-accredited, and will roll out more of the Meat & Livestock Australia Meat Standards Australia workshops throughout the year.
Eyre Peninsula breeders Gary and Janice Fiegert, Melashdan White Dorpers, Tumby Bay, hosted one of the workshops last month, which included speakers on genetics, animal health, nutrition and LAMBPLAN.
Former society board member Denis Russell, Genelink White Dorpers, Bordertown, said the list was coming together, with about 20 to 30 producers attending each day.
"The brand feedback is that if they know it is Dorper, and promoted that way, consumers are asking for it," he said.
"There is a good balance of muscle to fat - with their intramuscular fat they are quite tender, and butchers are able to get a better cutting percentage."
He did not anticipate any premiums in the brand's infancy but it was important to maximise demand for the breed.
"There is still a wave of expansion of Dorpers in the pastoral country so there will be a big supply chain," he said.
"We should be able to do something pretty fancy in the next 10 years."
Society president David Curtis, Bellevue Grazing, Millmerran, Qld, said the brand building came at the request of consumers.
"The Dorper breed is dominating the market up here in Qld, especially the organic market," he said. "We are hoping consumers will look for the brand in the long term."
The brand building exercise is expected to take at least five years to make real inroads.
"At the moment it is up to individual producers to work with individual butchers or processors but we are hoping to develop agreements similar to the Angus breed," Mr Curtis said.
* Full report in Stock Journal, April 17, 2014 issue. Like Stock Journal on Facebook