Damara Sheep

What is the history of Damara Sheep?

The Damara sheep breed, an indigenous breed currently found mostly in Namibia, originally comes from East Asia and Egypt. The breed can now also be found in Angola, but was previously only found in isolated parts of Namibia for years. This allowed the breed to avoid the influence of other sheep breeds.

The breed got its name from the Gross Damaland, where it was first kept. The breed is an extremely ancient breed that is thought to date back to 3,000 BC. In 1904, this long-legged breed of sheep was seen by German explorers in the northern region of Namibia, later known as the Gross Damal and known as the Damara Sheep. For many years, the sheep were in an isolated area of ​​Namibia and therefore remained far from the influence of other breeds.

A Breeders Association was established at the Omatjenne Research Station in 1986 and then many animals were exported to South Africa, which established its own Damara Sheep Breeders Community in 1992.

The breed has also been established in Australia, and several of them are available in New Zealand. Some were used when crossing with a white-headed Dorper to breed Meatmaster sheep.

What are the characteristics of Damara Sheep?

  • Damara sheep can survive in a harsh environment and poor feeding conditions.
  • The breed is extremely vigorous and can breed and reproduce in places where water and grazing are very limited. This makes it very suitable for common areas of Namibia where extreme conditions are often the norm rather than the exception.
  • It has a very high resistance to most sheep diseases and also a good tolerance to internal parasites.
  • Damara type is primarily used in the meat industry.
  • Damara sheep have a very diverse diet. It feeds on grass, shrubs and shrubs and can almost be classified as a crawler. Studies have shown that the diet of Damara sheep can consist of up to 64% of browse material. This places Damara in the same feeding category as goats.
  • A large, fat-tailed sheep, the Damara also have a relatively long appearance.
  • A tall breed, the Damara have a long, oval-shaped, deep body.
  • The breed has long, strong and well-placed legs, with small, well-shaped hooves.
  • The breed usually grow short, coarse hair and can be found in both multi-coloured and uni-coloured variations.
  • The colours include brown, black and white in uni-colour variations and black and white pied in multi-coloured specimen.
  • A horned breed, their horns are usually small in size.
  • The head is of moderate length and width.
  • The nose tends to be slightly Roman in females and more prominent in rams.
  • The eyes are large and brownish in color, protected by well developed eyebrow-ridges.
  • On the back of the Damara ram's head is a well developed cushion.
  • The ears are of moderate size and mobile.
  • Wattles are sometimes found under the throat. A small dewlap is present from the chin to the throat while rams often have a dewlap stretching right down the throat.
  • The Damara sheep is a functionally efficient animal.
  • The Damara  ewes appear feminine, whereas the rams are more robust and masculine.
  • It has the typical characteristics of a desert breed, namely long legs, fat tail, short hair and a respiratory rather than a cylindrical conformation.
  • The Damara sheep has a high fertility rate, strong maternal instincts and potential to grow well under unfavorable conditions.
  • Twin births do occur and mothers are capable of rearing them.
  • The breed is reproductive at an early age (even as early as 8 months if conditions are favorable). 
  • Damara ewes can reproduce any time of the year (poly-oestrus).
  • They take good care of their offspring and will fight predators when attacked. Orphan lambs are rare in this breed due to their exceptional maternal ability.

What is the weight of a mature Damara Sheep?

The average weight of an adult Damara ram is 80 kilograms, an adult sheep is 50 kilograms and a newborn lamb is 4 kilograms.

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