Apparel Wool, Meat for a Feast

Dohne Handbook

2023 Dohne Handbook

“The Dohne is responsible for the improvement in the maternal characteristics of the Australian sheep flock.”

front cover rams English Dohne Handbook 2015_Page_02



Sheep versatility and profitability at its best

Australian Dohnes are a well balanced and versatile breed producing a stylish white apparel wool and a fast growing prime lamb.

Red meat requirements are increasing globally due to the improved living standards in areas such as Asia and the Middle East. Red meat producers are under pressure to vertically integrate their production systems to meet the demand, without radical change to current sheep production enterprises.

Genetically, the Australian Dohne is the only breed that possesses the ability to achieve this genetic improvement, enhancing fertility and early growth rates, which leads to rapid product turn off and better gross margins per hectare.

Modern objective breeding techniques coupled with stringent subjective classing to maintain breed standards have been the foundation of the Dohne’s success.

The Dohne’s influence over the national sheep flock during the last 25 years has been profound. The Dohne is responsible for the change in the make and shape of the Australian Merino.

This handbook explains how the Dohne was developed, the Dohne advantages and the Dohne breeding system and philosophy.



1938 – 2023

Dohne sheep have been ticking all the boxes since their inception in South Africa in 1938 and introduction to Australian in 1998.The aim of the Dohne has been well defined, with the breeding objective to improve meat, wool and reproductive traits.
The initial cross was between a Peppin Merino and the German Mutton Merino. This was a “one-off” cross and progeny were interbred and selected for high fertility, rapid lamb growth, mothering abilities and the production of quality Merino wool.
In Australia the Dohne presented a perfect alternative for sheep producers. With an emphasis on meat and wool traits, the true dual-purpose sheep had arrived. It provided an alternative to the fine or medium wool Merinos, and specialist prime lamb breeds or composites that have been traditionally used in sheep enterprises.
The maternal qualities of the Dohne ewe proved perfect for Australian conditions. They are survivors; resilient and fertile. They are natural mothers who rear high performance lambs and produce quality apparel Merino wool.
Full pedigree and modern,
objective breeding techniques, coupled with stringent subjective classing to maintain breed standards have been the foundation of the Dohne’s success. The following economic traits are recorded:
• Body weight at weaning and post weaning.
• Wool weight and fibre diameter at post weaning.
• Eye muscle depth and fat depth at post weaning.
Ethically, as an apparel wool producer, the Dohne stands alone with a natural bare breech eliminating the need for mulesing.
The Australian breed society, formed in 2000, has overseen the breed’s recognition as a modern, mules-free, plain-bodied, productive, profitable and adaptive sheep breed for the Australian farmer.
The Dohne is known for its subjective and objective benefits, high fertility, rapid growth rates, hardiness, quality apparel wool, bare breech and ASBVs.
The popularity of the breed has seen the Dohne spread to South America, New Zealand, Russia, North America and China.


The Dohne is the best path to a self-replacing mules-free flock, with quality meat and wool production.

  • Self replacing polled flock
  • Early maturing prime lambs
  • Quality apparel Merino wool
  • High fertility
  • Plain bodied / open faced
  • Bare breech / mules free
  • High fecundity and exceptional mothering ability
  • High weaning percentages and survival rates
  • Adaptable to varied environments, including harsh conditions and pastures low in protein
  • Non seasonal breeders / up to 70% will rejoin with lambs at foot
  • Full pedigree and performance recording
  • Longevity

Mt Alma rams



  • Lean and high yielding carcasses
  • Even fat distribution
  • Lambs with gains of up to 450 grams per day make the Dohne popular with grass finishers and lot feeders
  • Market flexibility – trade or export weight carcasses


Wellington New South Wales 2013 hoof & hook competition winners, Dohne cross lambs. Carcasses judged on saleable meat yield and intramuscular fat.
Photo courtesy of The Land (Rural Press)



  • Dohne wool is AWEX accredited and categorised as Merino wool
  • The Dohne averages 5-6kgs of 18-21 micron quality apparel AAAM
  • Dohne wool has exceptional coefficient variation and comfort factor
  • Staple length 90-110mm with some Dohne producers shearing every 8 months

Culverson Wool 2007 (11)



Exceptional mothering abilities of the Dohne make them capable of rearing multiple progeny under all production systems, with maiden ewes lambing in the autumn achieving up to 120%.

  • Fecundity
  • Excellent milk production
  • Non seasonal breeders
  • Lambing ease
  • High libido




The variation in Australian climates from the mild wetter regions of the southeast to the hot and dry outback interior provides the perfect platform to display the adaptability and durability of the Dohne breed.

  •  The Dohne has the ability to convert inferior vegetation into sustainable products
  • The Dohne has the ability to perform well above the average of species under adverse conditions
  • The Dohne has been used extensively over Merino and Corriedales in New Zealand, Uruguay, Chile, Argentina, Peru, Falkland Islands and Russia




How the Dohne compliments other breeds…

table 1table 2

table 3table 4



The Dohne: Embracing modern up to date performance breeding strategies

  • ASBVs are a projection of how the traits of an animal’s progeny will perform
  • The ASBVs are derived from recording the full pedigree and performance of an animal
  • The national database allows Dohne sheep from large and small registered stud flocks to be directly compared

As a commercial breeder, how can I use a ram’s ASBVs to improve my flock’s performance?

  • Define your breeding objectives for each trait for your flock
  • Use the ASBVs to compliment the visual assessment of a sheep
  • Select rams with ASBVs that enhance your breeding objectives



ASBVs – Continual genetic improvement

With the use of ASBVs and subjective (visual) classing the Dohne has continued to improve.

Registered Dohne Breeders are continuing to strive for increased profitability on a commercial basis.

Since coming to Australia, Dohne rams have improved 30% (New South Wales DPI independent evaluation), refer to graph below.

Through compliance of all compulsory recordable traits, Registered Dohne Breeders will continue genetic improvement into the future.



ASBVs – What does it all mean?

Weaning Weight (WWT): heritability : moderate 20%

  • All lambs are weighed between 42 and 120 days of age (ideally 100 days)
  • This weight reflects the mothers’ milking ability and maternal characteristics
  • A higher WWT will highlight the early maturing lambs and give a commercial breeder the opportunity to reach target weights earlier

Faster Growth = Increase in Profit



Post Weaning Weight (PWT): heritability : moderate 30%

  • Lambs are weighed between 210 and 300 days of age to achieve commercial objectives of turning lambs off earlier, indicating a better feed conversion ratio
  • This weight is representative of the lamb’s ability to grow without their mothers’ influence
  • Lambs that reach target slaughter weights as quickly as possible are more profitable

Earlier Maturity = Greater Profitability



test ram



Dohne productivity versus other breeds

other breeds table


Full booklet in English – Click Here

Full booklet in Spanish – Click Here

Hard copies, contact the Australian Dohne Breeders Association Secretary – Contact Details

Practical Guide

Dohne Database

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Australian Dohne Breeders' Association
Australian Dohne Breeders' Association13 hours ago
April Newsletter
Thank you to the following studs that have confirm they will be showing at the Australian Sheep and Wool Show;
NSW: Calga, DD, Kardinia, Macquarie, Spring Valley and Uardry
South Australia: Clover Downs and Ulooloo
Victoria: Gunyado
#Dohnes #DohneMerino #AWI #MLA #wool #networking #sheep #newsletter #meat #ACM #AMSEA #elders #nutrienagsolutions #sheepshow #bendigo #CWG
Australian Dohne Breeders' Association
Australian Dohne Breeders' Association1 day ago
April Newsletter
The Dohne Merino has been selected as the 2024 Feature Breed at the Australian Sheep and Wool Show.
The Association’s Show Committee has been in regular contact with the Australian Sheep and Wool Show organisers, and we are delighted that our breed will be of prominence on this ‘big stage’ in July at Bendigo.
Thank you to the following studs that have confirm they will be showing at this upcoming event;
NSW: Calga, DD, Kardinia, Macquarie, Spring Valley and Uardry
South Australia: Clover Downs and Ulooloo
Victoria: Gunyado
We are delighted to inform you that our judges this year will be; David Berrell Midgery Dohne Stud Walgett NSW, Tegan Falkner Quality Wool South Australia and international judge Dries Pienaar White Wools Dohne Merino Stud Eastern Cape South Africa.
#Dohnes #DohneMerino #AWI #MLA #wool #networking #sheep #newsletter #meat #ACM #AMSEA #elders #nutrienagsolutions #sheepshow #bendigo #CWG