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PRODUCING versatile, well structured rams that can thrive in a commercial environment has been the main goal for Amarula Dorper and White Dorper stud, Gravesend.

The stud's brand and good reputation has gone from strength to strength in the past 15 years for principals Justin and Lorroi Kirkby.

Back in 1998, the Kirkbys went on a two year backpacking adventure and were eager to have a look at farming overseas.

While in South Africa - an area in drought at the time - they visited a Dorper farming enterprise and could see the sheep were in good condition.

They believed the Dorper breed had huge potential in Australia.

"We came home in February 2000 and started to work on the plan," Mr Kirkby said.

This meant buying six Dorper ewes for $3000 each and leasing 324 hectares in Dubbo.

"We started with tag number one in 2000 and this year we started with tag number 5000," Mr Kirkby said.

In 2004, they sold some of their Dorper ewes for a deposit on their Gravesend property, which had good summer rainfall and was close to Mr Kirkby's family.

A few years later the property next door came up for sale and the rest, Mr Kirkby said, was history.

Amarula's main aim now is to improve in quality every year.

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