Breed History

Background On The Damara Breed

Origin of the breed

In the 19th century missionaries and explorers became aware of the Damara sheep in Northern Namibia, an area known as the “The Koakoveld”, where it was, and still is, one of the main sources of livelihood of the Himba tribe, an Herero-speaking people. The Himba settled in the Kaokoveld during the 15th century with their Sanga cattle, Damara sheep and goats. The Himba have been described as Africa’s most successful pastoralists.

Like its wild progenitor, the Asiatic Mouflon, the Damara has an outer coat of stiff glossy hairs and a short woolly undercoat which only grows in winter. This undercoat is shed in summer.

The Damara over centuries survived a long and perilous migration through Africa and its genes have to a large extent been shaped by natural selection. The Damara had to survive for many centuries without veterinary support in a hostile environment and had to adapt to these conditions. It was only in the middle of the 20th century that commercial farmers became aware of the unique characteristics of the Damara. The Damara can therefore thrive in a wide range of environments without expensive support systems. The unique genetic traits of the Damara ensure that it is a most prolific mutton-producing breed.

General Description

A fat-tailed smooth haired, predominantly brown sheep but number of color varieties occurs. Rams are usually horned, heavy and masculine. Ewes are polled, light and feminine.

Qualities

  • Long lean legs and a short easy gait for walking distances
  • Strong flocking instincts
  • Long productive life
  • Strong mothering ability
  • High fertility
  • Short lambing intervals
  • High resistance levels to parasites and most sheep diseases
  • Tender, tasty meat with a thin layer of fat
  • Ability to survive on a limited water supply
  • Adapts to most veld types
  • Temperature tolerant
  • A well-adapted minimum care sheep-good returns from meat production off the veld.

Normal Production Environment

Arid semi desert conditions