Keeping Damara sheep on a smallholding is possible anywhere in South Africa, as they have adapted to extreme climates and harsh environments across many countries including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, many other Middle Eastern countries, Sudan and Namibia.
The Damara sheep is a fairly large, symmetrically built sheep. The body is long, oval and fairly deep. Colour varies from white, brown, black and white, roan, spotted, red, doberman and even black. There are no restrictions about colour, except that some dark pigmentation is essential. The hair is mostly short, more like that of a buck or goat than what we expect from a sheep.
The males, and some females, have horns.
The tail is wedge-shaped, narrow and long, stretching to below the hock. The Damara’s fat tail is a distinguishing feature. It’s also a key to its robust nature and their ability to thrive in these harsh conditions. Damara sheep can raise a lamb on the fat reserves stored in the ewe’s tail. The tail acts like a camel’s hump storing fat.
Damaras as Mothers
Damara ewes are highly fertile and are able to breed year round. Generally ewes will produce three lambs in two years. They can cycle again as early as eight weeks after lambing. Ewes have outstanding mothering instincts. If she has a lamb, rarely do you ever lose that lamb. They are extremely protective and defend their young.
Damara sheep have the ability to thrive in the most marginal conditions and have proved their true value during drought. They are very hardy and disease resistant.
Because they are non-selective grazers, they browse grass, bush and shrubs. They are excellent at weed management by rotational grazing so you can save on herbicides.
Due to their strong flocking instincts they require less fencing than other breeds of sheep. They often graze and move within in sight of each other and rest as a group. This assists the ewes in defending their young from predators and makes moving the flock easy.
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