- Typically alert, lively, long-legged, large deep bodies, short hair varying from black, brown, white or all combinations of these.
- Wedge shaped tail extends below the hock, stores body fat utilised in hard times, minimal body fat distribution.
- Predominantly horned sheep, though polls do occur mainly in ewes. Rams have spiral horns, ewes' horns smaller.
- Mobile ears to repel insects, small lobes (wattles) can occur under throat. Rams have strong masculine head with pronounced horns, Roman noses, briskets and are more lively and robust than ewes.
- Ewes have finer bodies and appear more delicate and feminine.
- Proven performers and good food converters. In wheatbelt areas they are non-selective grazers, excellent at weed management by rotational grazing reducing herbicide requirements.
- Highly fertile with polyoestrous cycles, reaching sexual maturity as early as six to seven months, Recommended first joining is 10-12 months.
- Capable of producing three lambs in two years. Ewes have five month gestational period, lambs start grazing quickly. Ewes have strong mothering instincts, protective and can cycle again as early as eight weeks after lambing. Twins are not uncommon and are reared easily by mothers. A two percent ram-ewe ratio is typical in wheatbelt areas.
- A high proportion of rams, typically three to six percent, are often used in pastoral country.
DAMARA SHEEP BREED STANDARDS
(as published by the Damara Sheep Breeder's Association of South Africa)
The Damara sheep must be a functional, efficient animal. The ewes must appear delicate and feminine, whereas the rams should appear lively and masculine. The Damara sheep were bred under harsh conditions and can survive under very poor nutritional conditions. Therefore it is possible to farm with Damara sheep where water, grazing and shelter is fairly restricted. The Damara has a fairly high tolerance against most sheep diseases and also against internal parasites. The Damara sheep is able to cover large distance comfortably which also contributes to its profitable use. The meat Damara sheep is very juicy, tasty, and flavoursome and mottled with fat. External fat is mainly located on the tail. The Damara sheep has a varied diet. It feeds on grass, bush and shrubs. Generally speaking the Damara sheep is an animal which adapts itself to the conditions in which it finds itself. It can tolerate a great deal of stress under unfavourable natural conditions.
2. BREED CHARACTERISTICS
Long tail, which gradually tapers down to a thin end. Has a short comfortable gait; The tail, ears and skin are very mobile; Lively appearance; Teeth hard and strong; It happens that two front teeth of young sheep as well as those which have shed their milk teeth are large; Strong flock instincts; Longevity; Strong motherly instincts and very fertile.
Nose long and strong, inclined to be slightly Roman in females and very much more Roman in rams. Eyes large and bright; brownish in colour; well developed eyebrow-ridges and mobile eye-lids. The Damara sheep is predominantly a horned sheep; though Polls do occur more so with ewes than rams. The rams have well developed spiral horns which stand well away from the head. Behind the head is a well developed cushion. Rams show this development more than ewes. Ears are reasonably large and mobile. Bells under throat permissible. Ewes have a small dewlap from rear jaw to throat. Rams often have dewlap right down to throat.
The Damara sheep is a fairly large sheep symmetrically built. Body long, oval and fairly deep; The topline over the head is concave drops down in the neck hollow, rises above the shoulderpoint, declines towards the back and rises over well developed loins, with a Goose-rump. Legs long and dry, but strong and well placed, having strong well shaped hooves. Well developed hamstrings and should not be straight in the heel. The pastern-joint is very long, sloping and springy. With the exception of the rump and tail, there should be no visible lumps of fat.
5. COLOUR AND HAIRCOVERING
Colour varies from white, brown, black and white roan, spotted, doberman and even black. No colour bar. Dark pigment essential. Hair is mostly short with a tendency to a fine layer of woolliness. They lose this when they get older. Glossy hair is a desired type. Rams often have long hair on bottom of neck up to brisket, which stands out vertically.
The tail is wedged shaped, narrow and long, straight till below the hock. With rams the tail is heavier and broader, which tapers down via the hind legs. A slight kink or bend is permissible, though a discrimination against. A twist, a bad bend or a tail which is twisted and showing bare skin is a disqualification.
7. FERTILITY AND GROWTH ABILITIES
The breed is known for its high fertility rate and growing abilities and mother instincts. Twins do occur and their mothers are capable of rearing them. The breed is ready for service at an early age and by selection it can be improved upon. Ewes can lamb any time of the year.
8. BREEDING ORGANS
Normal well developed testicals essential in one short scrotum. Ewes must have well developed udders with two teats.
- Uneveness in called "cheeks"
- Longer woolly hair in grown sheep
- Weak cushion behind head
- Abnormally small round or cylindrical body
- Tail too short
- Too large and broad tail
- Mouse ears
- Cow hocks
- Pastem-joint weak and bent down backwards
- Abnormally small testicals
- Too long scrotum
- Overated gooserump
- Very small hindquarters
- Very hollow back
- Straight topline
- Horns growing towards head
- Short or long hooves in other words uneven
- Ears that are too mobile and flat against cheeks
- Small, pony type for age
- No pigment
- Woolly legs
- Narrow and short head
- Absence of cushion behind head