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According to the FAO Production Yearbook for 1977, 96 percent of the sheep of Southeast Asia are located in Indonesia. None are recorded in Brunei, Laos, Sabah, Sarawak or Singapore. Cambodia has 1,000 Vietnam 13,000, the Philippines 31,000, peninsular Malaysia 46,000 and Thailand 52,000, making a total of 143,000. Indonesia on the other hand has 3,286,000. Numbers declined slowly in the years preceding 1972–74 since when they have stabilized.

Within Indonesia the distribution is equally irregular as shown in Table 20:

Table 20 Sheep distribution in Indonesia, 1973
West Java (including Jakarta)1,450,000
Central Java (including Yogyakarta)928,000
East Java (including Madura)475,000
Other islands147,000

Source: Buku Saku Peternakan, 1975

Ninety percent of Indonesian sheep are on the island of Java; within Java their density is three times as great in the west (the wetter end) as in the east. Goats are more numerous than sheep in all provinces except West Java where sheep outnumber goats in the ratio three to two.


This concentration of sheep in one of the most densely populated islands in the world, and in a climate defined as humid tropical, is clearly worth study, the results of which should be of interest also to other countries in the region. It should also be noted that these sheep have a reputation for high fertility: Groenewold (1971) gives a total lamb production of 200–220 lambs per 100 mature ewes per year. The Javanese sheep clearly merited inclusion in the FAO/UNEP study of prolific tropical sheep.

Management. Sheep are the next most important source of meat for the rural population after poultry and goats (except in West Java). They are also valued as a source of manure and as a form of saving. (This last point makes numbers more important than size). Wool production is relatively unimportant and ewes are never milked.

Sheep ownership averages about 3–5 animals per farmer. The animals graze waste land during the day and are kept at night in simple covered bamboo pens or sheds; these have slatted or woven bamboo floors raised 30–40 cm off the ground. There they are fed on cut forage and agricultural wastes; sometimes they are given rice bran and salt.

Disease does not appear to be a problem. No trouble from foot rot was reported. In West Java, fluke, tapeworm and Haemonchus are the most serious afflictions. In Central Java scab, not Haemonchus, is the chief problem. In East Java, helminths are the major parasites and Haemonchus may be a cause of mortality. Modern drugs are too expensive for the ordinary farmer to use in the control or treatment of parasites and diseases but traditional methods may be used, e.g. against fluke. No doubt the slatted floors are an advantage and may account for the absence of foot rot. Rotational grazing would be desirable but is difficult to implement because of the restricted grazing area available.

Breeds. There appear to be three native sheep breeds in Java: the local Javanese thin-tailed; the Priangan of West Java; the fat-tailed sheep of East Java.

Javanese Thin-tailed (domba pribumi or domba asli = native sheep) (see Plates 17 and 18). This is the common sheep of West and Central Java. It is said to occur also in East Java but in fact the author saw only fattailed sheep there. In West Java it is estimated that 80–85 percent of the sheep belong to the local breed, the rest being Priangan. It is a small sheep with an average slaughter weight of only 19 kg according to the official figure of the Ministry of Agriculture (Buku Saku Peternakan, 1975) but a wither height of 57 cm. Adi Sudono (1965) gives weights of 20–35 kg for adult females and 35–60 kg for adult males.

It is usually white and commonly has black patches around the eyes and nose and occasionally elsewhere. The tail shows no sign of fat and does not reach the hocks. The ram carries closely curled horns and the ewe is normally polled. The ears are of medium size and are carried in a semipendulous position. Its fleece is of coarse wool.

This breed is not mentioned by Fischer (1955) nor by Robinson (1977) although it is the dominant breed of Indonesia. The local sheep at P4 (Pusat Penelitian dan Pengembangan Peternakan - The Australian Indonesian Centre for Animal Research and Development), Bogor, which are called “Priangan” might be more appropriately termed “Javanese Thin-tailed”.

Priangan (see Plates 19 and 20) - In the Priangan residency of West Java which embraces the five districts of Bandung, Garut, Sumedang, Ciamis and Tasikmalaya, there in a breed of sheep which has been developed primarily for ram fighting. It differs from the common thin-tailed sheep in its larger size, convex facial profile, high frequency of the earless gene, variety of colour and by the presence of a throat ruff or mane and a distinct deposit of fat at the base of the tail.

Merkens and Soemirat (1926) record all that is known of the history of the Priangan breed (which they call Preanger). It is said to be descended from Merino and Cape sheep crossed on to the local breed about the year 1864. Certainly during the 1860s there were several imports of Merinos from Australia. Cape sheep from South Africa were also present and these two breeds were crossed with each other and with the local sheep, both by Mr. Holle of Garut, by the Regent of Limbangan and by other sheep breeders around Garut. There is no description of these Cape sheep but it seems likely that they were of the fat-tailed Africander breed. They were present already in the 18th century; it is recorded in 1802 that sheep of the Cape breed were thriving in the vicinity of Batavia (Jakarta) (De Haan, 1912, p. 500). The aim was to incorporate the greater height of the Cape sheep and the wool production of the Merino. Certainly the Priangan is larger than the local sheep and the hairy throat ruff and the slight fat at the base of the tail could well have come from the Africander. There is, however, little trace of Merino characters and the wool is no finer than that of the local breed.

The colour is extremely varied. The 66 rams which the author saw at the ram fighting competition in Bandung on 14 August 1977 were roughly categorized as follows:

Black with little white (on tail, feet, poll)6
Black-and-white pied26
White with little black (on face, feet, rump)10
Grey or grey-and-white7
Tan or tan-and-white4

The horns of the male (females are polled) are heavy with pronounced cross ridges and sharp angles. They are usually closely coiled (as in the local sheep or the Merino) but occasionally they form a loose lateral spiral (as in the Africander). Sometimes the ram has four horns (Atmadilaga and Asikin, 1962) but the author did not see any such animals; sometimes the ewe has scurs. The tail rarely extends more than halfway to the hocks. The throat ruff is rendered more conspicuous in the fighting rams by shearing the fleece from all the body except the neck and shoulders. The facial profile is convex.

Some authorities (including Robinson, 1977) distinguish between the Priangan and the Garut, restricting the latter name for the strain used solely for fighting. It is said to have a higher incidence of short or absent ears. This distinction appears to be artificial and unnecessary and most people used the names Priangan and Garut as synonyms.

Pure Priangans number about 250,000 but the rams are used for grading up the local sheep so it is difficult to make an absolute distinction between Priangan and Javanese Thin-tailed.

Opinions differ about the weight of the Priangan. Merkens and Soemirat (1926) gave a weight of 30–40 kg for the females and 60–80 kg for the males. For 1954 BPPP (Balai Pusat Penjelidikan Peternakan) gave an average of 38 kg for females and 58 kg for males. On the other hand Dr. Atmadilaga thinks that the average weight today is only 20–30 kg for females. Since he (Atmadilaga, 1958) described one-third of the sheep of Indonesia as Priangan (i.e. 1 million rather than ¼ million) he perhaps uses the name to embrace the local sheep which have been partially graded to Priangan sensu stricto.

The West Java Livestock Husbandry Inspectorate has recently started a flock of 200 two-year-old Priangan ewes at Maragawati near Garut. They will be fully recorded and selected for meat characters. The aim is to produce improved stock for distribution.

Ram fighting. The Priangan sheep are bred primarily for ram fighting (Ketangkasan Seni Domba). The competitions are held regularly in Bandung and at smaller local centres. Competing rams are divided into three classes based on age and size and rams fight in pairs only within their own class. They start fighting at 2 years of age and continue for 4–5 years. Fighting rams are given a special diet which, in addition to grass and concentrates, may contain eggs, honey, liver or iron tonic, and black beer. They are given intensive training which includes exercise, practice fighting, swimming and massage. The resulting animal is large, muscular, well grown without being fat, and remarkably docile except during the actual combat.

The fight takes place on a grass surface within a circle of spectators. A band plays and the rams are encouraged by the dancing and singing of their attendants. The competitors are placed facing each other and a few metres apart in the centre of the ring. They back away from each other up to a distance of 5–10 metres and then charge each other with their heads down to collide head on. The base of the horn takes the major impact. They then back away and charge again. This may be repeated up to 50 times in the case of the largest class but up to only 25 times for the smallest class. After 10–12 encounters there is a pause during which the animals are petted and groomed. If one ram is a clear winner by knocking the other down or forcing him backwards or if one is a clear loser by walking away or losing interest, the fight is stopped. Usually the two adversaries are very closely matched and the winner is decided by a group of six judges who award points on the basis of agressiveness, style, dexterity, alertness and stamina. If there is any gambling on the result, it is not conducted openly. It appeared to the author that the smaller animals were more agressive than the larger ones. Animales are rarely hurt and no sign of blood was seen during the encounters watched by the author.

The rams are selected for size, horn size and for fighting ability. The champion rams are highly priced and may fetch up to 300,000 rupiah (US$ 1 = 415 rupiah). However, they are not used for breeding during their fighting career as it is feared that mating would deprive them of their taste for fighting.

Selection for fighting ability should also improve mutton production by producing a large muscular healthy animal. It may, however, emphasize development of the forequarters rather than of the hindquarters. Ram fighting is also described by Merkens and Soemirat (1926) and by Fischer and Atmakusuma (1959).

East Java Fat-tailed (domba ebor gomuk) (see Plates 21 and 22) - The sheep of Madura and East Java differ from those of West Java in having a fat tail and are said to be adapted to the drier climate. They are also, typically, white and hornless. They are coarse-woolled.

These sheep are said to have been brought originally from southwest Asia by Arab traders. As early as 1731 the Government decided to import Kirmani males from Persia. (Kirmani is an alternative name for the fattailed coarse-wooled Baluchi breed of Iran). This decision was repeated in 1754 and in 1779 importers were offered monetary inducements but there is no evidence that any action was taken (De Haan, 1912, p. 500). It may be significant that “dumba” is the Persian for “tail” and has been used to refer to the fat-tailed sheep of Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The native Indonesian word for sheep is “biribiri”.

In the island of Madura all sheep belong to this breed. They have spread into East Java where now most of the sheep are fat-tailed. The author saw fat-tailed sheep between Surabaya and Situbondo and in the neighbouring village of Semiring but the tails were smaller than on Madura. On Madura the tail of the first quality sheep was usually strap-shaped or carrot-shaped and hung to the hocks. A stick may be put through the tail of the ram lamb to bend it up and make it get fatter. In Semiring the tail was much smaller, not reaching to the hocks, and triangular in shape.

Even in Central Java the fat-tailed sheep is preferred because of the better taste of its meat, its superior leather and, above all, its larger size. The tail itself is a culinary delicacy. More than 50 percent of sheep in Central Java are said to be fat-tailed but around Yogyakarta the author saw only the local thin-tailed sheep except in the Kaliurang Experiment Station.

The sheep of the eastern islands - Lombok, Sumbawa, Kisar, Sawa - are also fat-tailed. In southern Sulawesi there is a breed called Donggala which Dr. Atmadilaga describes as fat-rumped. Fat-tailed sheep from Lombok have recently been imported into Irian Jaya.

The typical fat-tailed sheep is completely white and is hornless in both sexes. Occasionally rams carry scurs or small horns. As in the other breeds ears are normally of medium size and semi-lop but the earless gene is present (Fischer and Atmadilaga, 1955). Fat-tailed sheep are larger than the thin-tailed. Buku Saku Peternakan (1975) gives an average liveweight at slaughter of 24 kg compared with 19 kg for the local sheep. In fact “superquality” rams can weigh 45–50 kg and ewes 30 kg. BPPP (1954) gives weights of 43 kg for males and 40 kg for females.

There is no crossbreeding in East Java and Madura but the Government runs an improvement programme based on selection within the pure breed. Rams selected on size and conformation (the “superquality” rams mentioned above) are bought by the Government and distributed to villages. Here they are kept by one man but are run with the whole village flock of ewes. After 2–3 years the ram becomes the property of the farmer who has looked after it. Ewes are also distributed and are passed on to a different farmer after they have had 1–2 lambs.

Wool production. All Javanese sheep carry a light fleece of extremely irregular, coarse hairy wool. Previous descriptions of a hair breed appear to have arisen because of the thinness of the fleece, the frequency of shearing and the shedding of unshorn fleeces. Fleece weight averages only 200–300 g per year from ewes and about twice as much from rams (BPPP, 1955). Smith (1976) studied 20 specimens from native sheep in Central Java and 5 from Priangan in West Java. Mean values were as follows: staple length 6.8 and 4.4 cm, fibre diameter 39.6 and 35.0 μ, medullation 42.6 and 32.5 percent. The differences are not significant.

At first sight the sheep on Madura appear woolless but this is due to the fact that they are shorn every three months. They are also washed regularly (in the sea) and there may be more frequent partial shears to remove any dirty wool. Clean woolless sheep are believed to thrive better than dirty unshorn ones. The wool is thrown away. In East Java the fleece may be allowed to shed naturally. Even in West Java wool is used commercially (for carpets) only to a very small extent; it may be used as manure. Some wool is exported from East Java to Singapore.

Reproduction. Age at first mating of ewes varies from 6 to 12 months. Zulbardi (1977) quotes four experiments in which the averages were 7.2, 8.0, 8.0 and 7.9 months respectively. Lambing may occur at any time of the year. With careful management ewes can lamb every 6 months but a lambing interval of 8–9 months is more usual. Natasasmita (1978) demonstrated a service period of 56 days which represents a lambing interval of 206 days. In Madura rams may be removed from the flock after the birth of the lambs, so only one lamb crop per year is obtained. Observations on gestation length record 147.5 and 149.9 days for Priangan, 150.3 for Fat-tailed and 149.0 for their cross (Ambar Rusyad, 1977).

Fat-tailed ewes are kept for at least three years. At 4 years they may be sold for slaughter on account of barrenness - the old females are difficult to mate because of the fat tail. Hand mating with human help may be necessary.

Rams are active from 6 months to 5 years of age but they are usually slaughtered earlier on account of aggressiveness. For ethical reasons, castration is not practised.

Prolificacy. For all three breeds it is reported that the ewes normally have one or two lambs at a birth and occasionally three.

Table 21 tabulates the observations quoted in the reviews by Zulbardi (1977) and Ambar Rusyad (1977) of LPP (Lembaga Penelitian Peternakan - The Animal Husbandry Research Institute, Bogor) together with some figures obtained at IPB (Institut Pertanian Bogor - Bogor Agricultural University). It is a clear that the Priangan is well within the prolific class and the fat-tailed breed is on the border line but the local thin-tailed cannot qualify. Feeding level naturally influences litter size and there is a tendency for flocks in experimental stations to perform better than those outside. Age is also an important factor.

Table 21 Prolificacy of Javanese breeds
Breed and referenceNo.Percentage of births:Mean litter size
Local thin-tailed      
Koesnan (1972)6848.542.68.8-  1.60
Usri (1971)20084.515.00.5-  1.16
Nurmanaf (1974)495a81.518.5-  -  1.19
Harahap (1973)369b95.94.1-  -  1.04
Pasaribu (1973)118b61.937.30.8-  1.39
Kurnadi (1976)2265.025.010.0-  1.45
Sugihen (1974)6816.275.08.8-  1.93
BPPP (1955)c5831.037.924.16.92.07
Supan (1977)5152.943.13.9-  1.51
IPB (1977)c2347.834.84.313.01.83
Priangan x fat-tailed      
BPPP (1955)c5547.340.010.91.8d1.69
Wardojo and Adinata      

Notes: a: estimated from number of farms;
b: North Sumatra, all others in West Java;
c: experimental flocks; all others are farmers' flocks;
d: quintuplets

Table 22 shows that litter size increases up to the third parturition but little thereafter.

Table 22 Litter size according to age
1     11.001171.88491.40
2   811.072  71.86461.65
3   631.203102.40261.61
4   341.244102.30  81.75
5+211.295  22.50  31.67
Source: Usri (1971) BPPP (1955)Wardojo and Adinata (1956)

The prolificacy may not look spectacular compared with the Finnish Landrace or the Chios breed but with a lambing interval of 8 months, the lambing rate per annum should average 2.72 for the Priangan and 2.34 for the fat-tailed, which amply bears out the estimate of 200–220 lambs per 100 ewes per year given by Groenewold (1971).

Imported breeds and crossbreeding. During the Dutch administration there were many attempts to import Merinos into Java and Sumatra starting with the importation of 1864. Merkens and Soemirat (1926) mention imports of Australian Merinos in 1897, 1903 and 1906 and of Romney Marsh in 1912 and 1914. These imported animals could only be maintained by taking them to the mountains and even then the death rate was high. But there must have been earlier imports of wool sheep; in 1778 a prize was offered “to anyone who could explain why sheep in Java degenerated so quickly, why their fleeces became hairy and how this could be prevented”. As already mentioned there is now no trace of Merino influence in the Javanese sheep presumably because of the high death rate and the natural selection for a hairy fleece which is more adapted to the hot wet climate.

Later the Texel breed was imported by the Dutch and was found satisfactory for crossing both in Bogor and in Bandung. Birth weights and weights at 4 and 6 months were increased by crossing on to Priangan at IPB. There is no information about the effects on fertility, resistance to parasites or mortality.

The present policy in West and Central Java is to try out the Suffolk, Dormer (Dorset x Merino) and Suffmer (Suffolk x Merino) imported from Australia. Rams of these breeds are being used on Priangan and fat-tailed ewes at several experimental and private farms. It was difficult to obtain exact figures, and the numbers involved are still comparatively small, but the author's impressions are as follows. The imported breeds appear to thrive and reproduce satisfactorily if maintained at an altitude of at least 800 m, and if well fed, clipped frequently and dosed regularly against helminths. However, even at Kaliurang (800 m) the respiration rate of Dormers was 100–150 per minute compared with 40–50 for the local sheep.

Under less favourable conditions there is a high mortality among lambs. Local ewes tend to suffer from dystocia when mated to a Suffolk ram. The F1 animals appear to perform satisfactorily if carefully managed.

A comprehensive crossing trial is being undertaken by Gajah Mada University at Yogyakarta. The crossbreeding will take place at three locations. Brebes on the north coast (hot), Kaliurang at 800 m (cool and misty), and Baturadea (cool and clear, good nutrition). There will be three groups: Dormer x fat-tailed, F1 x fat-tailed, fat-tailed x fat-tailed. There will be 20 ewes per group in each of the three locations. The sheep will be kept in sheds (with slatted floors) with some grazing time (chiefly for exercise) each day. Mating will be year-round. This trial was due to start in September 1977.

Conclusions. The sheep of Java form an invaluable genetic resource; they should be treasured for their adaptation to an environment traditionally considered difficult for sheep and for their high rate of reproduction. They are an extremely important source of meat in a primarily agricultural area and make no demands in the way of imported feedstuffs or the production of forage crops. Any improvement which is attempted should bear in mind these special advantages.

The Priangan and the East Java Fat-tailed are larger and more prolific than the local thin-tailed. Improvement programme should therefore concentrate on these two breeds which should then continue to be used, as at present, to grade the smaller and commoner breed. Two of the Government activities for genetic improvement of these two breeds are particularly relevant. The selection within the Government flock of Priangan sheep at Garut and the selection programme among the farmers' stock of the fat-tailed sheep in East Java are both excellent initiatives which hopefully will be expanded and intensified. They should produce more productive sheep which still maintain their adaptation and their fertility and therefore can be used on ordinary farms where conditions do not permit a high level of feeding, expensive disease control programmes or other aspects of sophisticated management.

Crossbreeding with temperate breeds may be useful for some farms in favourable situations but this should be restricted to those who can afford the improved management necessary to maintain a more sensitive breed. Before such crossbreeding is generally expanded controlled experiments should be undertaken to compare the purebred locals and the crosses under different environmental conditions to find out what level of foreign blood is desirable in a given environment. The crossbreeding experiment at Gajah Mada University is an excellent example of the type of investigation which is needed.

Such crossbreeding will improve size and growth rate but if it does so at the expense of fertility and lamb viability the overall improvement in production in terms of weight of lamb per ewe per year may be negligible.

This must be carefully watched in all comparisons of purebreds and crossbreds.

The crossbreeding with medium or fine-wool breeds will not improve the wool for the one local outlet - carpet making. For this purpose crossbreeding with a carpet wool breed might be considered - and preferably a carpet wool breed from a hot area such as the Awassi from the Near East or the White Karaman from Turkey. This suggestion is made with some misgiving. Past experience makes it clear that heavily wooled breeds do not thrive in Indonesia. Furthermore, their fat tail may be undesirable except in East Java but their wool does not seem to be desired. Therefore, if any import is made, a hairy tropical breed would be more appropriate. An interesting idea would be to use the Barbados Blackbelly which combines tropical adaptation, absence of wool and high prolificacy.

If carpet wool production was increased by crossbreeding, a better marketing system would have to be devised which gave the farmer incentives in the form of a higher price for his wool and a more efficient system for collecting it. The carpet factories might consider the manufacture of woven carpets (kilims) in addition to the more expensive tufted types, and the development of an export market.


Adi Sudono, 1965. Ilmu Ternak Umum [General Animal Science]. Diktat Fakultas Peternakan IPB (not published) (cited by Zulbardi, 1977, and Ambar Rusyad, 1977).

Ambar Rusyad, 1977. Sheep breeds of Indonesia. Report for FAO/UNEP Project “Conservation of Animal Genetic Resources”. 10 pp. TS.

Atmadilaga, D., 1958. Study on the milk yield of Indonesian sheep with special reference to the Priangan breed. Hemera Zoa, 65: 3–14.

Atmadilaga, D. and Asikin, 1962. Some observations on the polyceraty in the Priangan sheep. Com. Vet.,6 (2): 63–68.

BPPP, 1954, 1955. Laporan tahunan, Balai Pusat Penjelidikan Peternakan [Annual Report, Centre for Animal Husbandry Research]. Bogor (cited by Ambar Rusyad, 1977).

Buku Saku Peternakan, 1975. Direktorat Penyuluhan Peternakan, Jakarta.

De Haan, F., 1912. Priangan. De Prianger-Regentschappen onder het Nederlandsch Bestuur tot 1911. Vol IV. 1,040 pp. Bataviaasch Genootschap van Kunsten en Wetenschapen, Batavia.

Fischer, H., 1955. Schaflhaltung und Wollverwertung auf der Insel Java. Tierzüchter, 7: 311–313.

Fischer, H. and Atmadilaga, D., 1955. Untersuchungen über die Ohrform bei Fettschwanzschafen in Indonesien. Berliner and Münschener tierärztliche Wochenschrift, 68: 115–117.

Fischer, H. and Atmakusuma, A., 1959. Schafbockkampf, ein Volkssport in West-Java. Tierärztliche Umschau, 14: 40–42.

Groenewold, H., 1971. Review of livestock development possibilities, Indonesia. (Unpublished report, FAO, Rome).

Harahap, M.H., 1973. Keadaan peternakan domba di Kecamatan Padang Bolak Tapanuli Selatan. [Sheep husbandry situation in Padang Bolak district of South Tapanuli]. Special report, Animal Husbandry Faculty, IPB, Bogor. (Cited by Ambar Rusyad, 1977 and Zulbardi, 1977).

Kurnadi, T., 1976. Manajemen ternak domba di P.T. Cita Mukti. [Sheep management in P.T. Cita Mukti]. Special report, Animal Husbandry Faculty IPB, Bogor. (Cited by Zulbardi, 1977).

Koesnan, H., 1972. Tinjauan terhadap beberapa faktor tatalaksana dan pertumbuhan anak domba pada peternakan rakyat. [Evaluation of several factors in the management and growth of backyard lambs]. Special report, Animal Husbandry Faculty, IPB, Bogor. (Cited by Ambar Rusyad, 1977, and Zulbardi, 1977).

Mason, I.L., 1978. Sheep in Java. World Animal Review No. 27: 17–22.

Ma'sum, K., 1973. Prestasi reproduksi ternak domba rakyat di Kecamatan Pacet, Ciomas dan Depok. [Study on the reproduction of backyard sheep in Pacet, Ciomas and Depok districts]. Special report, Animal Husbandry Faculty, IPB, Bogor. (Cited by Zulbardi, 1977, and Ambar Rusyad, 1977).

Merkens, J. and Soemirat, R., 1926. Bijdrage tot de kennis van de schapenfokkerij in Nederlandsch-Indië. Nederlandsch-Indische Bladen voor Diergeneeskunde, 38: 395–414.

Natasasmita, Asikin, 1968. Reproductive activity of Priangan ewes. Research Journal B-series, (1): 15–19.

Nurmanaf, A.R., 1974. Produksi anak (lamb crop) pada peternakan domba rakyat di Kecamatan Kalipati Kabupaten Subang, Jawa Barat. [Lamb crop of backyard sheep in Kalipati district, Subang, West Java]. Special report, Animal Husbandry Faculty, IBP, Bogor. (Cited by Zulbardi, 1977, and Ambar Rusyad, 1977).

Pasaribu, R., 1973. Keadaan peternakan kambing dan domba rakyat di Kecamatan Bosar Maligis, Simalungun dan kemungkinan pengembangannya. [Situation of sheep and goat husbandry at Bosar Maligis, Simalungun, and possibilities for development]. Special report, Animal Husbandry Faculty, IPB, Bogor. (Cited by Ambar Rusyad, 1977, and Zulbardi, 1977).

Robinson, D.W., 1977. Livestock in Indonesia. Peternakan di Indonesia. Centre for Animal Research and Development, Bogor, Indonesia, Research Report No. 1, P4, Ciawi, Bogor. Laporan Penelitian No. 1.

Smith, I.D., 1976. Sheep in south-east Asia. In “Sheep breeding. Proceedings of the 1976 International Congress, Muresk and Perth, Western Australia (ed. G.J. Tomes, D.E. Robertson and R.J. Lightfoot)” pp. 46–51. Perth: Western Australia Institute of Technology.

Sugihen, B.G., 1974. Efisiensi ekonomi faktor-faktor produksi pada usahaternak domba rakyat didesa Tenjonagara Kabupaten Garut. [Economic and efficiency factors in the production of backyard sheep in Tenjonagara district, Garut]. Thesis, Animal Husbandry Faculty, IPB, Bogor. (Cited by Zulbardi, 1977, and Ambar Rusyad, 1977).

Supan, 1977. Personal communication at IPB.

Usri, 1971. Korelasi antara induk dengan prolificacy pada domba lokal Kecamatan Cijulang, Kabupaten Ciamis. [Correlation between age and prolificacy of local sheep in Cijulang district, Ciamis]. Special report, Animal Husbandry Faculty, IPB, Bogor. (Cited by Zulbardi, 1977, and Ambar Rusyad, 1977).

Wardojo, M. and Adinata, M.M., 1956. Angka kelahiran dan lamanja masa perkandungan pada biri-biri ekor gemuk. [Birth rate and gestation period in fat-tailed sheep]. Hemera Zoa, 63: 441–445.

Zulbardi, M., 1977. Ternak domba di Indonesia. Sheep in Indonesia. Report for FAO/UNEP “Conservation of Animal Genetic Resources”. TS 13 pp.


Sheep from Java and Australia were imported into Papua New Guinea during the German administration but only those from Java thrived. In the 1930s Romney Marsh and other sheep were imported from Australia and crossed with the earlier imports. The present population of about 1,100 sheep descend from these crossbreds. Holmes and Leche (1977) examined three flocks; two were in the lowlands and one in the highlands.

“Four main types are described:

  1. ‘White Wool’: Largest, bare-headed, with poor quality wool, very open and with little crimp. They may include Romney Marsh or Border Leicester in their ancestry. Rams often have large, white horns.

  2. ‘Black Wool’: Bare-headed sheep, black fleece, often a white blaze; little crimp. Ancestry is not obvious. Rams are polled or have small, black horns.

  3. ‘White Hair’: Fleece contains 25-100% white hair; the rest is short wool with no crimp. Some of these animals are bare bellied at 1 year, then the brisket, neck, sides, rump, withers and back shed their fleece in that order, leaving short hair (1–2 cm) at about 3–4 years. Rams are goat-like, with large white horns, and a tuft of straight hair on the throat. Some sheep have large fat deposits at the tail base, although the tail is not fat.

  4. ‘Coloured Hair’: Most goat-like, small, with long fine legs, long neck, light head and drooping ears. The coat is hair, often patches being shed to give a decrepit appearance. The colour is characteristic, black muzzle, ears, eyebrows, and lower legs, with the rest almost any colour from white to black, but usually light brown. Rams have large, black curved horns. Intermediate types are plentiful.

Of the 65 ewes in the lowland flocks, observed over 12 months, 19 did not lamb. In those that did lamb litter size was 1.4 lambs per ewe. Perinatal mortality was 5 percent for single lambs, 20 percent for twins and 61 percent for triplets. Later mortality was lower: 5 percent per annum in the lowlands and 4 percent in the highlands. (In contrast 32 Romney Marsh ewes with five rams on adjacent land in the lowlands did not produce a single lamb during two years.) A large flock of local sheep has been assembled at the Erap Research Centre of the Department of Primary Industries. So far age of first lambing has averaged 17 months and lambing interval about 8 months (Holmes and Leche, 1977).

Although these results refer only to small numbers they are quoted here because they show in general the importance of using an adapted breed in the humid tropics and, in particular, the utility of the Javanese breeds in this environment.


Holmes, J.H.G. and Leche, T.F., 1977. South East Asian sheep in Papua New Guinea. Proceedings of the Third International Congress of the Society for the Advancement of Breeding Researches in Asia and Oceania (SABRAO), Canberra, Australia, February 1977, 1 (c) 46–50.


Description. Smith and Clarke (1972) described the sheep of the Malay Peninsula south of the isthmus of Kra. Devendra (1975) described the sheep of West Malaysia. The sheep of southern Thailand (provinces of Narathiwat, Pattani and Yala) are similar to those of West Malaysia. In the latter country 45 percent of the sheep are in the province of Kelantan (and 25 percent in Negeri Sembilan) so that the breed is often called Kelantan.

These sheep are small. Adult rams weigh 25–30 kg and ewes 20–25 kg. Withers height of 39 rams averaged 47 cm (Devendra, 1975). Males have spiral horns about 11 cm long; ewes are usually polled but may carry scurs. Facial profile is straight. Ears are small and horizontal to semi-pendulous; 25 to 30 percent of animals have vestigial ears. The tail is short (average 8 cm) and thin. The fleece is of coarse carpet-wool type with a staple length of 5–10 cm. Head, underside of neck, brisket, belly and legs are bare. Fleece weight is 0.8–1.4 kg (Devendra, 1975). The majority of the sheep are white. Others are black, light brown or pied. Patterns include badger-face and reverse badger-face.

Reproduction. Ewes exhibit oestrus throughout the year. Smith and Clarke (1972) state that ewes produce their first lamb at 12–18 months of age and that twinning is common. However Fischer (1968) reported differently on a flock of sheep maintained by the Division of Veterinary Services in Mahang, Kelantan. Of 452 lambs born, 11 percent were twins. This represents a twinning rate of only 6 percent. Age at first lambing was 22–30 months and lambing interval 248 days. Devendra (1975) quotes two private flocks in Selangor where single lambs were the rule. In one the average lambing rate (including barrenness) was 106 percent.

Meat and wool production. In the flock studied by Fischer (1963) birth weight of single lambs averaged 1.8 kg and by 12 months they had reached 12 kg. This represents a daily liveweight gain of 28 g. Devendra (1975) quotes daily gains of 49–73 g. from other flocks.

Smith and Clarke (1972) studied skin samples from 53 adult sheep in West Malaysia. Mean secondary to primary follicle ratio was 1.07, follicle density 6.3 follicles/mm2 medullation 42%, shed follicles (indicating kemp) 0.7%. Diameter of primary follicle fibres averaged 71.5 μm and of secondaries 27.5 μm. These values are close to those for the Bellary breed of Andhra Pradesh, India, and are suitable for a good carpet wool. Four wool samples studied by Smith (1976) had an average staple length of 4.5 cm, fibre diameter 47.3 μm and medullation 37.5 percent.

Management. In Malaysia sheep are kept for subsistence by peasant farmers in flocks of 3–10 animals. The two large private flocks in Selangor farm which Devendra (1975) quotes are almost unique. Sheep are grazed by the wayside and on fallow land. Kitchen waste may be fed but no concentrates. At night sheep are housed in simple sheds with slatted floors.

Attempts have been made to graze sheep in rubber plantations and these were apparently quite successful.

Improvement. In one of the large flocks in Selangor adult body weight has increased by 4–5 kg in 20 years. Carpet wool quality has also increased. This is attributed to selection (Devendra, 1975). Crossing with Dorset Horn increased lambing rate (to 151 percent) and birth weight (to 2.1–2.3 kg). However, because of the poor heat tolerance and poor adaptation of the Dorset, the project proved unsuccessful (Devendra, 1975).

Conclusion. It is not suggested that the sheep of Malaysia and Thailand can claim in any sense to be prolific. They are described here as a contrast to the Javanese sheep to emphasize that unselected sheep in a similar environment and a neighbouring area can be quite different in their reproductive ability. Furthermore, since it seems highly likely that sheep originally entered Java from the Malay Peninsula it would also appear likely that the high prolificacy of the sheep of Java was obtained by selection within that island.


Devendra, C., 1975. Indigenous sheep of Malaysia. Malaysian Agricultural Journal, 50 (1): 48–66.

Fischer, H., 1963. Sheep. In “Hints on Animal Husbandry” No. 19. Division of Veterinary Services, Malaysia. 3 pp, mimeo. (Cited by Devendra, 1975).

Smith, I.D., 1976. Sheep in south-east Asia. In “Sheep breeding. Proceedings of the 1976 International Congress, Muresk and Perth, Western Australia (ed. G.J. Tomes, D.E. Robertson and R.J. Lightfoot)” pp. 46–51. Perth: Western Australian Institute of Technology.

Smith, I.D. and Clarke, W.H., 1972. Observations on the short-tailed sheep of the Malay Peninsula with special reference to their wool follicle characteristics. Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture and Animal Husbandry, 12: 479–484.


The sheep of Bangladesh have been described as follows:

“Sheep are relatively few in number and are kept mainly in the deeply flooded low lying areas of the south where their resistance to wet conditions gives them some advantage over goats.

“The indigenous sheep belong to the so-called Wera breed. They are hairwool sheep with an even subcutaneous fat distribution. They are reported to have similar fertility levels to the Black Bengal goats, but are smaller animals attaining a maximum weight of about 10 kg in ewes and 15 kg in rams. The yield of coarse wool is about 1 lb per animal per year but they are rarely shorn, wool being harvested only at slaughter.” (FAO, 1971)

In the same report the fertility of the Black Bengal goat is described:

“The main kidding season is between November and January, when 90 percent of mature she-goats give birth to twins. The second kidding season is between May and July, when about 65 percent of the mature females give birth to one or two kids. The annual kidding rate is about 280 kids from 100 mature females.”

However, according to the Head of the Department of Animal Breeding and Genetics, Bangladesh Agricultural University, Mymensingh (personal communication, 1979), there is no distinct breed of sheep in Bangladesh. The local animals vary in appearance, size, conformation and performance. The University has collected a flock of sheep from different parts of the country. The mean performance of 36 animals was as follows: age at first lambing: 433 days; lambing interval: 10 months; twins: 41%; adult weight: males: 18.5 kg; females: 16.8 kg; fleece weight: 160 g; staple length: 5.1 cm; fibre diameter: 48.4μm ; wool fibres: 19.4%; heterotype fibres: 10.8%; medullated fibres: 69.8%; body height: 48.3 cm.

The University is currently undertaking an experimental crossbreeding programme using the following breeds from New Zealand: Romney Marsh, Perendale, Dorset Down, Polled Dorset and Suffolk.

In view of the experience with temperate wooled sheep in other parts of the humid tropics (e.g. Indonesia, Sri Lanka) it might be expected that a wiser policy would be to explore more fully the potential of the local sheep and the possibility of their improvement by selection. There are over half a million sheep in the country. They must be adapted to be able to survive and with such a population there is plenty of room for variation.


FAO, 1971. Report of the East Pakistan livestock mission. Volume I. Sector review. FAO/IBRD Cooperative Programme. Report No. 10/71/PAK 4.

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