Damara Sheep
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About Damara SheepAbout Damara Sheep



rnrnAlthough there are claims thatrnthe Damara breed of sheep originated in Egypt as long ago as 3000 BC, itsrnrecognition as a named breed is more realistically dated to the early twentiethrncentury. In 1904, this long-legged sheep breed was seen by German explorers inrnthe northern region of Namibia, which was then called Gross Damaland – hence itrnbecame known as the Damara Sheep. At one time, local farmers who used copper inrntheir traditional attire, exchanged Damara Sheep for copper wire and forrnhorses.

rnrnIn 1954, many Damara Sheep werernconfiscated from commercial farmers who were smuggling sheep through thern“Veterinary Cordon Fence”, which was erected to separate disease-free areas ofrnsouthern Namibia from those of the north. The confiscated Damara Sheep werernresettled at the Omatjenne Research Station, near Otjiwarongo, Namibia.

rnrnOver the next few decadesrnselective breeding improved the meat-producing qualities of the alreadyrnwell-adapted indigenous Damara without losing its main characteristics andrnadaptive traits for bushveldt savannah grazing.

rnrnThe breed’s ability to survivernin a harsh environment and under poor nutritional conditions made it suitablernfor the communal areas of Namibia where extreme conditions are the norm ratherrnthan the exception. It is a so-called “no care” breed, with short, shiny,rnmulti-coloured hairy coat, and has a fat tail which gradually tapers down to arnthin end. The ram has strong open spiral horns but the ewe is usually polled.rnUp to 60% of the Damara’s diet can consist of browsed vegetation, and it canrnthus live in areas usually more suited to goats. They have a high resistance tornboth internal and external parasites. The average weight of an adult ram is 80rnkilograms, an adult ewe 50 kilograms, and a new-born lamb 4 kilograms.

rnrnA Breeders’ Association wasrnestablished at the Omatjenne Research Station in 1986, and many animals werernsubsequently exported to South Africa, which set up its own Damara SheeprnBreeders’ Society in 1992. (See also The Damara of Southern Africa.)The breed has also been established inrnAustralia and there are a few of them in New Zealand. Some have been used torncross with white-headed Dorpers to produce Meatmaster sheep.

rnrnContent and Photo Source: NewrnZealand Rare Breeds (www.rarebreeds.co.nz/).rnrn

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