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By SHEENA COFFEY
INITIALLY it was the better-quality carcase
of the Dorper lamb that drove an opera-
tional change at Mackrells Elite Meats
butcher shops located within a 40-kilometre
radius of Echuca, Victoria.
During the past 18 months, Dorper lamb
meat has replaced traditional varieties at the
father-and-son team’s Echuca, Moama,
Tongala and Kyabram butcher shops.
“We made the decision to sell Dorper
because of the better-quality carcase hanging
up so far as shape and muscle were con-
cerned,” son Willis Mackrell said.
Soon afterwards they realised that the meat
quality was at least as good as the traditional
lamb they had been using - “now we’re finding
it’s actually better”.
Dorper lambs mature earlier and as such,
can be hung at about 20 kilograms to 22kg by
16 weeks to 18 weeks of age.
“I think that’s why they’re so tender,” he
At their small Tongala lamb feedlot the
Mackrells run about 450 Dorper and Dorper
second-cross and third-cross ewes.
“We want that to be up to a couple of thou-
sand head of Dorper and Dorper-cross ewes,”
They buy lambs half-finished at markets and
feedlot them to get them up to weight.
Lambs have also been bought from Danny
Teskeras’ Dorper stud Roslynmead at Echuca.
Lamb sales in the Mackrell business had tra-
ditionally centred on cuts of Merino-Poll
Dorset or first-cross and second-cross lambs.
“We’re pretty much using 100 per cent
Dorpers now,” Willis said.
Customers did not really notice the change
in meat cut at point of sale, but had returned
with glowing reports and orders for more.
“It’s not until they take it home and eat the
meat that they notice,” he said.
“I think it is more tender because of its
young age at processing.”
Dorpers strike gold
for ‘Elite’ butchers
Dylan Everett holds a pack of Dorper lamb chops at Mackrells Elite Meats, Moama, Victoria.
DORPER lambs yield higher than traditional cuts
used because of the meat-to-bone ratio, and at
20-22kg the percentage of fat content is also
“We don’t have nearly as much waste off the
Dorper carcases,” Mackrells Elite Meats’ Willis
Finding suitable lambs has been difficult, espe-
cially with local yardings often containing less
than 10 per cent Dorper lambs.
“If we’re running short, we’ve probably got
about 8-10 people we can buy Dorper lambs off,”
And getting through 40 head a week between
the four shops, they are on high rotation.
To this end, the Mackrells have just bought a
second farm to increase their room to grow
“We have second-cross and third-cross Dorper
ewes which we’re trying to breed to pure Dorper,
“Straight Dorper is the package we’re after.”
Because of the high yield, the Mackrells are
happy to pay a 10pc premium to growers.
“It is worth a little bit more because of the fact
they yield higher and we get a better percentage
of cuts out of them,” he said.
Willis says other butcher shops have started to
catch on, and he predicts that in the next 12
months “more will seriously look into it”.
Hard to keep up with demand
Dorper lambs mature earlier and, as such, can be hung at about 20-22kg by 16-8 weeks.
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