Origins. As for the Ethiopian Highland types, the Afar probably originates from very early importations from Arabia but the tail shape is different and these sheep carry no wool.
Sub-types and races. There is very little difference in this type from its northern limit in Eritrea to its southern one in Djibouti.
Distribution. Coastal strip, Danakil Depression, and Rift Valley in Ethiopia from 12°N to 6°N in the area where the Afar (Danakil) tribe is found. Northern part of Republic of Djibouti.
Ecological zones. Desert and coastal desert. Some extension has occurred westwards and upwards (to 1500 m) and into semi-arid zones in Ethiopia in recent years.
Management systems. Pastoral and, to a limited extent, agro-pastoral. In the pastoral systems management is identical to that of Afar goats (p.86) with very similar flock structures, females overwhelmingly predominant and ratio of breeding males to females of 1:42.
Physical characteristics. Small size. Weight: males 35 kg; females 24 kg.
Head small, profile short and straight in females but slightly convex in males. The pads of fat on the nose and behind the poll are typical of fat-tailed sheep.
Hornless in both sexes. Ears short (10 cm) and pricked, but vestigial ears are common (about 80 per cent of all animals in Tigray). Toggles in 5 per cent of all animals.
Neck short, often with a pronounced dewlap. Chest shallow and narrow. Tail head higher than withers. Back short. Legs long in
relation to body size and poorly fleshed. Tail shield-shaped descending to hocks, with short S-shaped, upturned tip Figure 79.
Figure 79: After sheep in Kala graben on the Tigray Welo border in nothern Ethiopia.
Colour off-white to sandy. Coat of short stiff hair.
Products. Meat; (milk).
REPRODUCTION. Lambing interval: about 1 year in Tigray traditional system. Litter size: 1.03 at Melka Werer; estimated at 1.14 in Tigray traditional system. Conception rate: 90 per cent at Melka Werer research station.
GROWTH. Birth weight: 2.40 ± 0.6 (s.e.) kg (n=219); males 2.54, females 2.26, singles 2.83, twins 2.07, linear increase with increasing age of dam from < 1 year to 3-4 years at Melka Werer research station. Weight for age: 3 months-11.9 ± 0.07 (s.e.) kg (n=213) with similar environmental influences as at birth, 6 months-16.8 ± 0.52 (s.e.) kg (n=204) and again with similar influences at Melka Werer; 3 months-11, 6-19, 12-23, 18-25, 24-26, 30-27, 36-28 kg for females only in Tigray traditional system. Average daily gain: birth-6 months - 92 g in Tigray traditional system; 3 (weaning)-6 months - 64 g at Melka Werer.
Research. Melka Werer Research Station, Institute of Agricultural Research, P.O.Box 2003, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
References. Wilson, 1975; Galal, Sebhatu & Getachew, 1977.
Origins. These sheep are almost certainly descended from very ancient importations from Arabia across the narrow Bab-el-Mandeb Straits at the mouth of the Red Sea.
Sub-types and races. Nomenclature is confused and many types (tribal or locational) have been named. Menz (from the district of the same name in northern Shewa region Figure 80, Bonga, Horro, Welo and Arusi are examples. Early Italian classifications included Akele Guzai, Rashaidi and Tucur.
Figure 80: Mixed hair and wool fleece on Menz type Ethiopian Highland sheep in Addis Ababa
Distribution. Highland areas of Ethiopia.
Ecological zones. Semi-arid to sub-humid areas in highland Ethiopia with weakly bimodal or unimodal rainfall regimes, usually above 1500 m.
Management systems. Agro-pastoral to agricultural and urban. Sheep outnumber goats and are the commonest of all domestic herbivorous species in the highlands. In 4 peasant associations in Debre Berhan in northern Shewa, 80 per cent of families own sheep which account for 64.7 per cent of all livestock owned (outnumbering goats by a ratio of 58:1 and cattle by 3:1). Flock sizes are generally small to medium: 23.7animals owned by 1.5 people in Debre Berhan with 66.7 per cent of flocks in single ownership and 21.7, 5.8, 4.2 and 1.6 per cent of flocks owned by 2, 3, 4, and 5 or more people. Flock structure: gene rally related to meat production with some influence of minor wool output: females 74.8 per cent (52.0 per cent breeding); males 25.2 per cent (5.0 per cent > 6 months and 2.8 per cent castrates).
In Ada district 24 per cent of families own 4.1 sheep (2.2 ewes, 1.3 lambs and 0.6 rams). Only 12 per cent of families own 3.3 goats. Flock structures are related mainly to meat production: breeding females > 1 year 52.5 per cent; adult males 13.9 per cent (13.0 per cent of these being castrates); lambs < 1 year 33.6 per cent.
Physical characteristics. Small size 60 cm. Weight: male 35 kg; Female 25-28 kg.
Head short and rather coarse with rather large eyes. Profile flat to slightly convex. Pads of fat behind poll and on face at sides of nostrils.
Horns: usually present in males, variable in length but generally short, ribbed and spiralled; usually absent in females. Ears short to medium length, horizontal or slightly pendulous; rudimentary and atrophied ears are common.
Neck short and thin. Dewlap sometimes present. Brisket rather prominent. Chest narrow and shallow. Back short but straight. Croup sloping. Legs long in proportion to body, exceptionally long in some types Figure 81. Tail variable in length and shape, even within a type Figure 82, but generally shorter than in many other fat-tailed types.
Figure 81: Ethiopian Highland sheep near Debre Marcos, Gojam region
Colour extremely variable: self or mixed colours predominate depending on type and region. Coat usually fairly long, up to 8 cm of mixed hair and wool, shorter and finer in some varieties. Wool cover on head and neck varies considerably.
Products. Meat; (wool).
REPRODUCTION. First lambing: generally rather delayed in relation to most African sheep; 4.2 per cent and 12.6 per cent of 876 Menz ewes with temporary incisors and with 1 pair of permanent incisors had lambed in Debre Berhan area in 1984; 13.7 months in limited sample (and probably "early lambing individuals") at Ada. Lambing interval: 350 days at Debre Berhan; 239 days at Ada.
Multiple births: generally uncommon but this trait, as well as others, differs within sub-types of the Ethiopian Highland sheep and among other Ethiopian breeds Table 43 ); 144 of 3412 parturitions in Debre Berhan traditional system; 24 per cent of 432 pregnant ewes in an abattoir study were carrying twin foetuses, possibly indicating high embryonic mortality under field conditions. Litter size: 1.04 in Debre Berhan; 1.30 in Ada (n=84 parturitions); 1.35 in small sample of Menz type on Debre Berhan station; 1.35 in Horro type. Annual reproductive rate: 1.03 at Debre Berhan; 1.98 at Ada. Fertility (=ewes conceived/ewes mated): 87 per cent for Horro type.
Table 43 Production traits of Ethiopian sheep types under station management
|litter size (n)||1.09||1.35||1.05||1.04|
|conception rate (%)||-||91.6||
|milk yield (1itres)||-||17.8||
|4 year weight (kg)||29.5||38.0||30.6||31.7|
|Lamb weights (kg)|
GROWTH. Birth weight: 1.9-2.7 kg for Menz type; 2.9 kg for Horro type. Weight for age: 120 days(weaning)-12.3 to 16.1 kg for Menz; 3 months-13.5, 6-18.5, 9-21.2, 12-23.4, 18-27.7, 24-31.2, 36-34.7, 48-33.3 kg at Ada; 6 months-14.7, 12-33.5 kg for Horro; males with 1 pair permanent incisors-27.2, 2 pairs-30.4, 3 pairs-33.8 kg; females 1 pair-22.7, 2 pairs-24.7; 3 pairs-25.6; 4 pairs-27.7 kg; mature castrates-39.6 kg. Average daily gain: birth-3 months - 124, 3-6 - 90, 6-9 - 70, 9-12 -59, 12-18 - 47, 18-24 - 40, 24-36 - 30, 36-48 - 21 g at Ada.
WOOL. Yield: 400-1000 g per clip, usually 2 clips per year in Menz type in traditional sector; 600 g in single annual clip at Debre
Berhan station. Fibre length: cm with CV of 57.8 per cent. Fibre diameter: 26.8 um with CV of 64.8 per cent. Manufactured wool has strong admixture of hair and is spun in natural colours. Used mainly for blankets in local manufacture but "cottage" and more commercial industries make a wider range of products Figure 83
Figure 83: "Cottage" and industrial products from naturally coloured wool of Ethiopian Highland sheep
In 1980, 33 tonnes of wool were exported from Ethiopia but 55 tonnes of greasy wool and 396 tonnes of wool waste were imported in the same year, most of which was re-exported as 9650 knotted and HOC woven carpets.
MEAT. Dressing percentage: Horro type lambs 35-38 at 28-30 kg live weight and 40-43 at 38 kg. Carcass proportions: 45 per cent . hindquarters in both males and castrates.
SKINS. In 1985 a total of 5 549 640 sheepskins was exported from Ethiopia, comprising about 1.8 million raw and 3.7 million processed skins: in 1986 the figures were 6 289 023 total skins of which 1.1 million were raw and 5.2 million were processed. Goat and kid skin exports amounted to 4.3 and 4.9 million in the 2 years but the proportions of raw and processed skins were reversed when compared to sheep.
Research. Institute of Agricultural Research, P.O.Box 2003, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. International Livestock Centre for Africa, P.O.Box 5689, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
References. Agyemang et al, 1985; Kassahun Awgichew & Getaneh Hailu, 1986; Mukasa-Mugerwa, Ephraim Bekele & Tadesse Tessema, 1986; Mukasa-Mugerwa & Tekelye Bekele, 1988; Demissie Tiyo, Kassahun Awgichew & Yohannes Gojjam, 1989; Kassahun Awgichew, Demissie Tiyo & Yohannes Gojjam, 1989; Sisay Lemma et al, 1989.
Origins. Part of the East African long-fat-tailed group.
Sub-types and races. Principally owned by the Masai tribe but similar sheep are owned by many other tribes in Kenya (notably the Nandi, Busia and Bukusu), northern and central Tanzania (of which Gogo in central Tanzania is probably the best example) and the drier parts of Uganda (especially the Karamoja).
Distribution. Northern Tanzania (where there are probably more than elsewhere) and south-central Kenya.
Ecological zones. Semi-arid bimodal rainfall (600 mm) areas at altitudes mainly in the range of 500-1500 m.
Management systems. Pastoral and agro-pastoral. Usually kept in approximately equal numbers with goats in mixed flocks. Some owners keep only one species and there is some evidence that in recent years goats have survived drought conditions better than sheep and are beginning to predominate. Animals are usually herded by day and penned in thorn enclosures at night, suckling lambs separately from adults. Flock sizes are very variable but generally large: combined goat and sheep flocks average about 190 head. Flock structure: females 68.5 per cent; males 31.5 per cent, castrates are important in the flock as their fat is used to feed post-parturient women Table 44.
Table 44 Sheep flock structure (per cent of 547 animals) on a Masai group ranch in south-central Kenya
Pairs permanent incisors
Physical characteristics. Relatively large size 70 cm (male and castrate 72 cm; female 66 cm). Weight: male 41 kg; castrate 45 kg; female 32 kg.
Forehead broad and short, profile convex in males and straight in females. Pads of fat occur on the front of the face and behind the poll in males but are less common than in other fat-tailed types.
Horns often present in both sexes: 33 per cent in males and castrates combined but 59 per cent in entires and 22 per cent in castrates (?entire males selected with horns), up to 27 cm long, carried in a tight backward spiral; 10 per cent of females have horns. Ears medium length, 11-15 cm, semi-pendulous but short vestigial ears occur in 7 per cent of sheep and complete absence of external ears is occasionally seen. Toggles occur in about 15 per cent of both sexes, variable in position and size.
Neck short, often with a pronounced dewlap. Chest narrow and shallow. Brisket relatively well developed with dewlap carrying some fat. Withers not prominent (66 ± 3.4 (s.d.) cm (n=131) in females, 72 ± 4.6 cm (n=4) in males, 72 ± 4.6 cm (n=10) in mature castrates. Back short. Croup sloping. Legs short. Tail variable in length and shape but generally very fat in sheep in good condition.
Colour preferably red but extremely variable. Coat relatively long, up to 4 cm smooth coarse hair but legs and face carry only fine hair: a short undercoat of woolly fibres is present in this animal.
Haemoglobin polymorphism indicates some possible resistance to helminth infestations in this type.
Products. Meat; fat.
REPRODUCTION. First lambing: 549 ± 112.1 (s.d.) days (n=37) on group ranch in south-central Kenya, considered to be very late in a traditional system and due to use of an apron to control breeding by male Figure 84 Lambing interval: 312 days (n=280) at Elangata Wuas group ranch in 1978-1981 but much longer in 1982 and 1983 on group anches near Sultan Hamed; longer than usual intervals for traditional system due at least in part to control of mating by males. Multiple births: uncommon, about 5 per cent in traditional system; relatively uncommon (14 per cent) at 01 Magogo station in Kenya. Litter size: 1.05 (n=1009) at Elangata Wuas group ranch, increasing from 1.00 at first to 1.08 at fourth parity, declining thereafter. Annual reproductive rate: 1.22.
Figure 84: Masai sheep at Elangata Wuas group ranch in south-central Kenya (note leather apron on male)
GROWTH. Birth weight: 2.7 kg (n=271) at 01 Magogo. Height for age: 10 days-3.9, 30-6.1, 90-10.5, 150-13.7, 240-17.7, 365-22.6, 550-26.5 kg. Average daily gain: birth-150 days - 73, birth-365 - 54 g in Elangata Wuas traditional system; birth-117 days - 128 g at 01 Magogo. Post-partum weights: 30.6 kg; 27.8 kg at first and 32.6 kg at fourth and subsequent parities; also influenced by parturition type (single 28.5 kg, twin 32.6 kg), season of parturition and flock. Mature weights: females 32.5 ± 4.55 (s.d.) kg (n=131) in range 21-47 kg; males 40.6 ± 7.53 kg (n=4) in range 33-49 kg; castrates 44.9 ± 5.38 kg (n=10) in range 38-53 kg.
SKINS. 1.25 to 1.65 million sheepskins per year entered the Kenya commercial marketing system in 1978-1984, compared to 1.59 to 2.61 million goatskins.
Research. Formerly at 01 Magogo by FAO Goat and Sheep Project and field studies by ILCA now discontinued.
References. Chemitei et al, 1975; Wilson, 1978; Preston & Allonby, 1979; Wilson, Peacock & Sayers, 1983; 1984; 1985; Wilson & Ole Maki, 1989.
Origins. Part of the East African long-fat-tailed group.
Sub-types and races. Several different tribal varieties might be recognized.
Distribution. Southern Uganda and western Tanzania, particularly around Mbarara in Uganda, and west of Lake Victoria and south and east into Sukumaland in Tanzania.
Ecological zones. Semi-arid and sub-humid, mainly bimodal rainfall areas at low to medium altitudes.
Management systems. Agro-pastoral. Possibly as many as 500 000 sheep of this type would have been found in Tanzania during the 1950s.
Physical characteristics. Small size. Weight: female 25 kg.
Head generally finer than other fat-tailed types but fat pads present on nose and behind head.
Horns usually absent in both sexes: when present they are short or occur just as scurs. Ears short (5-8 cm) but pendulous, or vestigial.
Neck rather long. Chest somewhat pinched. Withers level with or lower than sacrum and may carry some fat. Back short and straight or dipped. Brisket well developed but dewlap usually not very prominent except in really fat animals. Legs long and poorly fleshed. Tail variable in shape, length and amount of fat deposit.
Colour similar to Blackhead Persian with black head and fore part of neck, remainder of body white or white with black spots or splotches. Selected for this pattern at Mbarara in Uganda during 1950s. Other colours do occur. Coat short and coarse without wool undercover.
REPRODUCTION. First lambing: 532 ± 8.1 (s.e.) days (n=196) at Mbarara where ewes first put to ram at about 1 year. Lambing interval: 255 + 2.3 (s.e.) days (n=666), decreasing generally from 263 days at first interval to 232 days at ninth interval. Multiple births: fairly common at Mbarara, 82 per cent single, 18 per cent twin; apparently uncommon in traditional systems. Lifetime production: 7 lamb crops in 5-6 years at Mbarara.
GROWTH. Birth weight: 2.5 ± 0.02 (s.e.) kg (n=1531) at Mbarara; females lighter than males, lambs from first parity ewes lighter than all other parities, and twins lighter than singles. Weight for age: 2 months-10.1 ± 0.07 (s.e.) (n=1273), 5(weaning)-15.5 + 0.10 kg (n=1168) for male single lambs from multiparous ewes Table 45; 12 months-male single 24, female single 21, male twin 23, female twin 20 kg. Average daily gain: birth-2 months - singles 123 twins 95, 2-5(weaning) months - singles 59 twins 55, birth-5 months - singles 82 twins 73 g.
Table 45 Weights (kg) of East African Blackhead lambs at Mbarara, Uganda
Research. Formerly at Department of Veterinary Services and Animal Husbandry, Mbarara, Uganda.
References. Sacker & Trail, 1966.
Origins. Part of the East African long-fat-tailed group.
Sub-types and races. Sheep in Kivu in Zaire are similar to the Rwanda and Burundi types which appear to be undistinguishable from each other. The Tanzania Long-tailed is similar to this type, the Gogo sometimes being placed here rather than with the Red Masai.
Distribution. Rwanda, Burundi, Kivu province of Zaire, south-west Uganda and extreme north-west of Tanzania.
Ecological zones. As for the goat in the same area. Sub-humid bimodal rainfall zone of highland east-central Africa from 1200 m to 2500 m altitude in rainfall of 800 mm to 1500 mm per year.
Management systems. Agro-pastoral and agricultural. Table 5 provides some general data on the importance of sheep in 3 different localities within the general distributional area of this sheep. Sheep are much less common than goats and there are still some taboos against eating and keeping them. Only 32.6 per cent of families own sheep with an an average flock size of 2.1, larger flocks in Burundi (2.5) than than in Rwanda (2.2) and Zaire (1.8). In Burundi, 50 per cent to 90 per cent of all sheep are acquired by purchase. Generalized flock structure: females 76.8 per cent (62.6 per cent post-weaning); males 23.2 per cent (6.8 per cent post-weaning). Almost 45 per cent of sheep had only temporary incisors in traditional systems. Small ruminant population in Burundi was about 1.3 million in 1984 of which 25 per cent were sheep: an administrative census for tax purposes in Rwanda estimated 350 000 sheep in 1983 but an agricultural survey estimated 693 000 in 1984.
Figure 85: Ram of the African long-fat-tailed type at Songa station, Rwanda
Physical characteristics. Relatively small size 55-65 cm. Weight: 35-40 kg; male up to 45 kg; female 35 kg.
Forehead broad and short, profile convex. Males have typical fat pads on nose and behind poll common to all African fat-tailed types.
Both sexes usually hornless. Ears medium, pendulous towards the front; occasional vestigial ears.
Neck short and strong. Chest well rounded, averaging about 72 cm in circumference. Withers higher than sacrum. Back short, slightly dipped. Croup grades into fat tail. Brisket well developed. Legs poorly fleshed. Tail long and tapering Figure 85.
Colour generally black and white pied but red admixtures not uncommon. Hair longer or shorter, stiff, fine or slightly wavy. Males may have a mane and cape over withers and shoulders and an apron of long hair from throat, down the chest to the brisket.
Figure 86: Age at first lambing (top) and parturition intervals (bottom) of Rwanda sheep on station
Products. Meat; (manure).
REPRODUCTION. First lambing: 714 ± 18.4 (s.e.) days (n=343) on station in Rwanda Figure 86 but not related to puberty as a breeding season and restrictions on age and weight at first service were imposed by management; affected by year, season and type (single or twin) of birth of ewe's own birth. Lambing interval: 406 ± 7.5 (s.e.) days (n=863) on two stations in Rwanda, varying with station of rearing, year and season of previous parturition and increasing with parity. Multiple births: relatively uncommon in traditional system; single 85.5 per cent, twin 14.5 per cent (n=643). Litter size: 1.14 for 673 parturitions in traditional system Table 46 ); 1.43 on station in Rwanda, not affected by any environmental variables; 1.33 on station in Burundi increasing from 1.17 at first parity to 1.40 for all multiparous ewes. Lifetime production: relatively few ewes produced more than 4 parturitions in traditional system with an average of 2.29 parturitions for 643 ewes; on station few ewes exceed 5 parturitions (maximum 9) with an average of 3.44 for just over 600 ewes. Gestation period: 154 ±3.4 days (n=81) in range of 147 to 166 days.
Repeatability of litter size (calculated from within and between variances of ewes) 0.19 ± 0.035. Heritability (paternal half-siblings) 0.18 ± 0.086.
Table 46: Reproductive data established from owner recall in traditional flocks of long-fat-tailed sheep in Rwanda, Burundi and Zaire
Physiological age of sheep
Pairs permanent incisors
Number in sample
|Type of birth|
|Total young born||461||141||
GROWTH. Birth weight: 2.6 ± 0.02 (s.e.) kg (n=1093) on station in Rwanda; 2.5 ± 0.56 (s.d.) kg (n=515) on station in Burundi, affected by sex, birth type and parity Table 47. Weight for age: 30 days-6.3, 90-11.9, 150- 17.0, 240-4.7, 365-31.0 kg on station in Rwanda, weights differ up to 365 days with station of rearing, type of birth (singles + 3 kg at 1 year) and sex (males + 6.7 kg at 1 year) but not by parity; males weighed 12.3, 15.9, 19.3, 21.0 and 24.5 kg at 3, 6, 9, 12 and 15 months on station in Burundi with females weighing 11.3, 15.0, 18.1, 21.0 and 24.1 kg at the same ages and 27.6, 27.9 and 29.0 kg at 18, 21 and 24 months. Mature weights: males 10 kg heavier than females at 3+ years.
Table 47: Birth weights (kg) of Burundi long-fat-tailed sheep
MILK. Lactation length: maximum 12 weeks. Yield: maximum 700 g/d, total about 45 kg in 12 weeks.
MEAT. A total of 12 600 sheep was slaughted in abattoirs in Rwanda in 1983.
Research. Institut des sciences agronomiques du Rwanda, BP 138, Butaré, Rwanda. Faculté des sciences agronomiques, Université du Burundi, BP 2940, Bujumbura, Burundi. Institut de recherche agronomique et zootechnique de la Communauté économique des pays des grands lacs, BP 91, Gitega, Burundi.
References. Ngendahayo, 1980; 1982; Bizimungu, 1986; Branckaert & Habonimana, 1987; Wilson & Murayi, 1988b.
Origins. Part of the African long-fat-tailed group.
Distribution. Botswana, mainly along the eastern and southern boundaries. Also in Zimbabwe and Bophuthatswana close to their common borders with Botswana. Total Botswana sheep population was estimated at 165 000 in 1983 of which about 25 per cent were Karakul and Karakul crosses in the extreme south-west, the remainder being the native hair type. Numbers increased to 200 000 by 1985. Total numbers were estimated in excess of 400 000 in the late 1960s.
Ecological zones. Semi-arid to arid with a single, short, unreliable rainy season in summer and up to 50 nights per year with temperatures below 00C. Ranges into the annual/perennial short grass and herb areas of the Kgalagadi (Kalahari) desert where Cucurbitaceae are important dry season sources of food and water.
Management systems. Pastoral, agro-pastoral and ranching. About 16 per cent of sheep are kept in commercial systems. There were 70 cooperative groups comprising 1648 small farmers with 42 693 sheep and goats in 1985. Extension services provided to these groups include dipping, vaccination, castration and some other veterinary services. Flock sizes average 14.0 in the traditional sector and 113.8 in the commercial sector. Only 12 300 traditional households own sheep (compared to 53 000 owning goats). Flock structures are related to meat production with relatively early offtake of males: females 69.9 per cent (55.1 per cent breeding > 1 year); males 30.1 per cent (16.9 per cent > 1 year).
The ram subsidy scheme provided 2 rams to producers during 1985.
Physical characteristics. Medium size 60-70 cm (male castrate 3 pairs permanent incisors 64 cm; female 61 cm). Weight: male castrate 3 pairs permanent incisors 35.7 ± 2.77 kg; female 31.7 ± 5.98 kg. This sheep is larger than the Sabi and has a fatter tail, otherwise the two types are similar.
Legs rather long. Tail fat but variable in shape and length.
Colour usually white but pied sheep common. Coat of rather coarse hair.
REPRODUCTION. Lambing interval: usually once a year. Multiple births: very rare; only 10 of 578 parturitions produced twins over an 8 year period (1976-1983) on research station in Botswana. Litter size: 1.02 (n=578) on research station. Lambing percentage (=lambs born/ewes exposed): 86 in 1976-1983 on research station for 686 ewes.
Ministry of Agriculture estimated 50.9-68.1 "lambing percentage" nationwide in 1980-1985.
GROWTH. Birth weight: 3.2 kg (n=588) on research station. Weight for age: 4 months(weaning)-17.1, 12-26.7, 18-34.1 kg.
percentage: 44 for live weight of 26.8 kg (milk teeth), 46 at 29.3 kg (1 pair permanent incisors), 49 at 31.3 kg (2 pairs), 47 at 35.7 kg (3 pairs) for male castrates Table 48;
45 at 31.7 kg for mature (4 pairs) females. Carcass proportions: 47.6 per cent hindquarters in male castrates with 3 pairs permanent incisors; 49.9 per cent in mature females. Carcass composition: 52.2/19.2/23.6 per cent lean/bone/fat in temporary incisor castrates and 52.4/19.5/21.8 in full mouth females.
Table 48: Carcass composition of castrate and female MEAT. Dressing Tswana sheep
|Body component and Value||
Pairs permanent incisors
Carcass weight (kg)
The Botswana Meat Commission slaughtered 10 032 sheep in 1985 paying Pula 455 984 to farmers.
SKINS. Revenue to BMC for skins in 1985 was Pula 70 360, about 25 per cent of the value of meat revenue.
Research. Animal Production Research Unit, Private Bag, Gaborone, Botswana.
References. Owen et al, 1977; 1978; Owen & Norman, 1977; APRU 1986.
Origins. Along with Zulu forms part of the Nguni group.
Sub-types and races. Part of the Nguni group which also includes the Landim and other varieties in the Republic of South Africa.
Ecological zones. Sub-tropical sub-humid areas at low altitudes.
Management systems. Principally agro-pastoral. Kept in common flocks with goats (p.55) but outnumbered by them at a ratio of about 1:5.
Physical characteristics. Small size. Weight: 25-35 kg.
Horns usually present in males but absent in females. Ears short.
Legs long in relation to overall size. Tail long and carrot shaped, rather flat with less fat than other sheep of the region.
Colour usually black, brown or reddish in whole colours but broken colours not uncommon. Coat hairy, longer along back and on rib cage.
Synonyms. Nguni ("Landim" = Portuguese "Landrace").
Origins. Part of the Nguni group, including Swazi, Zulu and Bapedi.
Distribution. Mozambique, mainly south of the Limpopo.
Ecological zones. Semi-arid to sub-humid sub-tropical rainfall areas.
Management systems. Agro-pastoral with subsistence crops as the dominant farm enterprise. Mozambique has less than 150 000 sheep.
Physical characteristics. Relatively small size 65 cm (Table 49). Weight: male 55 kg; female 35 kg.
Table 49: Body measurements and body mass of female Landim sheep
|Shoulder height (cm)||Chest girth (cm)||
Pairs permanent incisors
Forehead broad and short, profile convex. Males have fat pads on face and poll, as do females to a lesser extent.
Horns absent in both sexes. Ears pendulous but rather short, 12.9 cm: atrophied or vestigial ears are present in 12 per cent of sheep. Toggles absent in both sexes.
Neck relatively long and fine. Girth exceeds withers height at all ages. Brisket not well developed. Withers well covered and level with tail head. Back longish and usually straight. Croup merges into fat tail. Legs poorly fleshed. Tail similar in both sexes, tapering to a point at about one-third of distance between hocks and ground, averaging 35.6 cm in length Figure 87.
Figure 87: Landim sheep at Chobela research station, Mozambique
Colour variable. Coat of coarse hair, usually short but up to 4 cm long in some cases.
REPRODUCTION. First lambing: 768 ± 289.7 (s.d.) days (n=161). Lambing interval: 412 ± 163.1 (s.d.) days (n=464). Multiple births: common. Litter size: 1.41 ±0.049 (s.d.) (n=753). Annual reproductive rate: 1.40. Age at first lambing and lambing intervals controlled by station management. Landim sheep are capable of lambing all the year round Figure 88;
Figure 88: Distribution of lambings by Landim sheep at Chobela showing effects of management policies
GROWTH. Birth weight: 2.37 ± 0.441 (s.d.) kg (n=987); males 2.43 kg, females 2.32 kg, singles 2.52 kg, twins 2.24 kg. weight for age: 90 days-9.9, 180-15.6 kg. Average daily gain: birth-90 days - 83 g.
Research. Institute of Animal Production, CP 1410, Maputo, Mozambique.
References. Wilson, Murayi & Rocha, 1989; Rocha, McKinnon & Wilson, 1990a; 1990b.
Origins. Part of the African long-fat-tailed group.
Sub-types and races. Many local varieties.
Ecological zones. Semi-arid.
Management systems. Agro-pastoral. In low-potential tsetse infested areas in north-west Zimbabwe sheep are outnumbered by goats in the ratio of 12.9:1.0 and flock sizes vary from 12.7 to 5.7 for families owning in 3 Communal Areas. Most flocks are very small with less than 5 breeding ewes. Ratio of rams to ewes is about 1:5 but most flocks do not own a ram.
Physical characteristics. Large size. Weight: females 40-50 kg.
Head strong with prominent forehead and convex profile in males. Well developed pads of fat behind nostrils and behind poll in males, less well developed on dewlap Figure 89.
Horns: present or absent in males, if present they usually have only one twist; females usually polled but if horns are present they are usually straight and flat. Ears short and carried horizontally or slightly drooping; vestigial ears occur Figure 90.
Neck short and strong. Well-developed and prominent brisket.
Chest rather pinched. Withers about level with tail head. Back short and straight. Croup short and sloping. Legs long and very lightly fleshed. Tail long and tapering, generally almost reaching fetlocks but very variable in length and shape.
Colour generally fawn, brown or red but blacks also common, as are mixed colours. Coat of short, stiff hair.
Figure 89: Sabi sheep with docked tail at Matopos research station, Zimbabwe
Figure 90: Vestigial ears on a Sabi ewe (note normal ears on her lamb)
REPRODUCTION. Multiple births:fairly common at 19.0 per cent of all pregnancies (8.2 per cent of ewes mated produce multiples at 2 and 3 years, 30.6 per cent at 4 to 8 years) at Matopos. Litter size: 1.37 (n=305) at Makoholi; 1.10 (n=890) at Matopos. Birth rate (=lambs born/ewes mated): 102.9 in . ewes 2 and 3 years old, 124.6 at 4 to 8 years at Matopos and similar at Makoholi. Fertility (=per cent of ewes lambing): 89 at Makoholi. Gestation period: 150.7 days (n=281) Figure 91; slightly shorter for male lambs and for multiple births.
Figure 91: Duration of gestation in Sabi sheep at Matopos, Zimbabwe
GROWTH. Birth weight: 2.7 kg (n=414) at Makoholi; 2.57 ± 0.02 (s.e.) kg (n=1143) at Matopos. Weight for age: 120 days(weaning)-19.8 kg; males 5 months-21.4 (twins 16.9), 20 months-31 kg; females 5 months-19.3 (twins 14.9), 18 months-33.6, 30-34.4, 42-38.1, 54-38.7 kg; 140 days-20.9 ± 0.14 (s.e.) kg. Average daily gain: 0-140 days - 130.7 ± 0.09 (s.e.) g. Post-partum weights: 37.7 kg.
Heritability estimates of birth weight were 0.11 ± 0.064, of 140 day weaning weight were 0.08 ± 0.059 and of daily gain were 0.10 ± 0.062.
MEAT. Dressing percentage: 45.3 and 41.6 at live weight of 31.1 and 30.2 kg for male castrate single and twin at 20 months.
Research. Department of Research and Specialist Services, P.O.Box 8100, Causeway, Harare, Zimbabwe.
References. Chigaru, 1971; Hale, 1986; Tawonezvi & Ward, 1986; Chifamba et al, 1988a; 1988b.
Synonyms. Black Head Persian; Black-headed Persian; Swartkoppersie (Afrikaans).
Origins. In spite of its name it is certain that the sheep has its origins in the Blackheaded Somali. The foundation of the breed is one ram and three ewes from a ship which landed in South Africa in about 1870. Further importations were made subsequently but do not appear to have had any great influence on the breed. Blackhead Persians were registered as purebreds in the first South African Stud Book in 1906. By 1930 there were 38 registered studs with 4000 animals.
Sub-types and races. Somali, Blackheaded Somali, Pecora somala a testa nera [Italian] (Somalia); Blackhead Ogaden (Ethiopia); and Toposa (Sudan) are similar but less improved types. East African Blackheaded is a fat-tailed rather than a fat-rumped sheep.
The Blackhead Persian has been used in crossbreeding on many "unimproved" types and has been crossed itself with "improved" types. Dorper (Dorset Horn x BHP), Wiltiper (Wiltshire Horn x BHP), Permer (BHP x German Mutton Merino), Nungua Blackhead (BHP x Djallonke (Ghana)), van Rooy ((Ronderib Africander x Rambouillet) x BHP) and Bezuidenhout Africander ((Arabi x BHP) x (Arabi x BHP)) are African examples. The BHP has also played a role in the development of Karakul sheep in southern Africa.
Distribution. Originally developed in the drier areas of South Africa the breed has spread to other parts of southern Africa and farther north, notably to Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia and even to Ghana. It has also been introduced for crossbreeding purposes to the West Indies, and to Central and South America.
There were an estimated 2 million Blackhead Persian sheep in South Africa in the early 1950s but numbers of purebreds have declined, mainly due to dilution by crossbreeding.
Ecological zones. Semi-arid and arid. The sheep has been introduced to many wetter areas where the comparative advantages it enjoys in dry areas are lost.
Management systems. Ranching and (mainly in the past) research stations. Flock sizes can be very large in ranching systems (e.g. 9000 on West Kilimanjaro ranch in northern Tanzania in the late 1960s (Figure 92)).
Figure 92: The Blackhead Persian ram flock at West Kilimanjaro ranch, Tanzania
In central Somalia rainfall varies from 100 mm to 250 mm per annum. Management practices are similar to those adopted for Boran goats in the same area (p.93) except that some breeding control is imposed as sheep are not milked. Flock sizes are much smaller than for goats, averaging 31 head, and are in a smaller proportionate range of 6-53 head. Flock structures are related mostly to meat production: females 76.1 per cent (breeding 55.9 per cent); males 23.9 (breeding rams 9.8 per cent, mature castrates 9.7 per cent).
Physical characteristics. Medium to large size. Weight: male up to 70 kg in South Africa; female 50 kg.
The following description is close to that of the official South African breed standard. Many sheep elsewhere leave much to be desired in relation to these norms. The outstanding characteristics are, of course, the black head and the fat rump Figure 93.
Head strong, with strong nose and mouth. Both sexes have poll and nose pads of fat, giving convex appearance to profile.
Horns should be absent (although scurs do occur). Ears moderately long, soft and held horizontally.
Neck thick and well set and in good proportion to body. Body broad, deep and reasonably long with broad withers and back. Back straight. Chest prominent, standing out vertically, broad and with well developed freely-hanging dewlap. Shoulders and buttocks well filled. Legs fairly short, straight and well placed. Tail comprises three parts: the first broad and firm close to the rump, not hanging down and not tapering; the second is curved upwards and rests against the centre of the first, tapers towards the apex, which should be level with the back, and shows a clean black skin area; the third hangs from the apex of the second, is 5-8 cm long and covered with short smooth hair. The tail must hang true.
Figure 93: A Blackhead Persian ram imported from Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) to Kongwa in central Tanzania in 1963
Colour in the classic type comprises a black head and neck, with the black not extending farther back, and running evenly round the neck. Hooves are also black. The rest of the body is pure white. Coat is of kemp and up to 4 cm long on the body but shorter on face and head. There is an inner coat of fine wool fibre. Sub-types and races differ in colour from pure black to pure white.
Products. Meat; (fat); (skins).
REPRODUCTION. First lambing: 795 ± 220.4 (s.d.) days (n=1133) at West Kilimanjaro; 942 ± 159.5 (s.d.) days on station in Mozambique. Lambing interval: 351 ± 161.7 (s.d.) days (n=2886) at West Kilimanjaro; 342 ± 19.1 (s.d.) days (n=138) in Mozambique; 3 lambings in 2 years on station in Kenya; about 14 months in central Somalia but varying greatly with season. Multiple births: very uncommon; 93.6 per single (89.5 per cent of lambs), 6.3 per cent twin (10.3 per cent of lambs), 0.1 per cent triplet (0.2 per cent of lambs) (n=5951) at West Kilimanjaro. Litter size: 1.00 (n=172) in Mozambique; 1.06 at West Kilimanjaro (n=5951) in 1963-1988. Fertility: (ewes lambed/ewes mated): 70.6 per cent in Mozambique. Lambing percentage (=lambs born/ewes mated): generally low, 60-90 in Zimbabwe and Kenya. Fecundity (=lambs born/ewes present per year): 61 per cent in Somalia. Lifetime production: 4074 ewes averaged 3.16 parturitions, only 14 per cent having 5 or more parturitions, at West Kilimanjaro.
GROWTH. Birth weight: 2.4 ± 0.10 (s.e.) kg (n=209) in Mozambique; 2.7 kg (n=54) in Kenya. Weight for age: 90 days-12.4, 180-15.2, 365-32.0 kg in Mozambique; 6 months-15.0 kg in Somalia Table 50 .
MILK. Yield: 68 kg in 12 weeks on high and 38 kg on low plane nutrition in Trinidad; 98 000-130 000 tonnes, of which 20 000-26 000 tonnes offtake for human consumption, from Somali national flock in 1970-1984. Composition: averages of 9 ewes over 12 weeks were fat 5.9 per cent, protein 5.6 per cent, ash 1.0 per cent and lactose 4.8 per cent in Trinidad; total solids 20 per cent in Somalia.
Table 50: Weights (kg) at various ages of Blackhead sheep in a central Somalia traditional system
Age range (months)
MEAT. Dressing percentage: 45 at 18.6 kg live weight in South Africa; 43-48 at 29.9-42.2 kg on different planes of nutrition in Zimbabwe; 48.8 for 3 animals averaging 15.0 kg live weight in Angola. Carcass proportions: 51.3 per cent hindquarter in South Africa. Carcass composition: 54.6/38.8/6.6 per cent meat/bone/fat in Angola.
Blackhead Persian carcasses are characterized by heavy fat deposits on the rump, with relatively little fat elsewhere, and are thus not suited to all markets. First-cross carcasses also usually show poor conformation.
Somalia exported 350 000-793 000 head in 1970-1984 and slaughtered 1.08-2.06 million annually in the same period.
Research. Livestock Breeding Station, P.O West Kilimanjaro, Tanzania. Institute of Agricultural Research, P.O.Box 2003, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
References. Pepler & Hoffman, 1935; Labuschagne, 1948; Butterworth et al, 1968; Paiva, 1969; Racoczi, 1974b; Dahir Mumin, 1986; de Almeida & Pimental, 1986; Bourzat et al, 1989; Rocha, McKinnon & Wilson, 1990b; S.M. Das, pers.comm.
Synonyms. Dorsian (Dorsie [Afrikaans]) for white variety.
Origins.This sheep was developed in the Grootfontein area of South Africa from 1942 onwards from crosses of Dorset Horn males on Black-head Persian females. A fixed type was developed through inter-se mating. A breed society was established in 1950 in the Republic of South Africa. The Dorsian (white variety) was affiliated to the Dorper in 1964.
Sub-types and races.Some specialization for different functions and markets is taking place. The Blackhead Persian is used in a variety of other crosses which have characteristics similar to the Dorper.
Distribution. Found over most of southern Africa including the Republic, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Angola, and Botswana in lesser numbers. Also in Kenya (Figure 94) and Tanzania with smaller numbers in some West African countries. The Dorper is the second most numerous sheep breed in the Republic of South Africa and accounts for 65 per cent of the "commercial" flock in Zimbabwe.
Ecological zones. Mainly semi-arid and arid areas.
Figure 94 Dorper ram, imported via Swaziland, on a commercial ranch in Laikipi a district, Kenya
Management systems. Principally ranching.
In Botswana 84 rams were provided to private owners under the subsidy scheme operated by the Animal Production Division.
Physical characteristics. One of the few breeds of small ruminants in Africa which has a full description. The following "standard of excellence" is adapted from judging notes by the Dorper Sheep Breeders' Society of South Africa.
Head strong and long with large eyes, widely spaced and protectively placed. Strong nose, forehead not dished. The head must be "dry" - i.e. no local fat deposits.
Small horns is the ideal but heavy horns are permissible. Ears in proportion to head.
Neck of medium length, well-fleshed, broad and well-coupled to the forequarters. Shoulders broad, firm and strong. Chest deep and wide. Protruding brisket undesirable. Legs strong and straight. Well sprung ribs, broad and full loin, back long and straight with no "devil's grip" but a slight dip behind the shoulders is permissible. Croup (rump) long and wide: inner and outer twist well fleshed and deep. Udder well developed Figure 95 . Scrotum not too long but testicles equal-sized and not too small. Localization of fat on any part of the body is undesirable and even distribution over the carcass and between the muscle-fibres is the ideal.
Figure 95: Dorper ewe and lamb at Lobo farm, Middlepits, south-west Botswana
Colour should be white with black confined to head and neck. Limited black spots on body and legs permitted. There is a white colour variant. Too much wool or hair is undesirable; the ideal is a short, loose light covering with wool predominating on the forequarter and a natural clean kemp underline. A mane is grounds for disqualification.
REPRODUCTION. Multiple births: fairly common; 77.2 and 22.8 per cent single and twin (n=123) at Henderson in Zimbabwe; 24.4 per cent (n=603) at 01 Magogo in Kenya. Litter size: 1.09 (n=563) on Botswana station; 1.29 (n=232) at Grasslands in Zimbabwe, 1.23 (n=123) at Henderson. Fertility (=percentage of ewes lambing): 68 per cent of exposed ewes (n=830) lambed over 8 years (1976-1983) on Botswana station; 90 for 258 ewes exposed at Grasslands; 86 for 704 exposures over 5 years at 01 Magogo. Lifetime production: 4.7 breeding seasons at Grasslands.
GROWTH. Birth weight: 3.9 kg (n=616) on Botswana station; 4.2 kg (n=299) at Grasslands, 4.5 kg + 0.09 (s.e.) kg (n=151) at Henderson; 3.5 kg (n=750) at 01 Magogo. Weight for age: 4 months-20.7, 12-30.8, 18-38.2 kg in Botswana; 140 days (weaning)-16.3 kg at Grasslands; at 01 Magogo males were 45 and 53 kg at 1 and 2 years and 55 kg at 3 years and older, females 36, 43 and 45 kg at same ages; 100 day weight of performance tested sheep figure 96: in the Republic of South Africa increased by more than 30 per cent from 1964 to 1981. Average daily gain: birth-140 days - 243 g at Henderson when creep fed ad libitum; birth-weaning(105 days) - 171 ± 48 g at 01 Magogo. Age at 40 kg: 146 days at Henderson.
Figure 96: Changes in 100 day weight of registered Dorper sheep in South Africa
MEAT. Dressing percentage: 44.8 at live weight of 18.7 kg, 47.6 at 30.0, 51.2 at 40, 59.1 at 50.0, 52.3 at 60 kg following high energy diet at Matopos (Zimbabwe). Carcass composition: fat increased from 12.4 per cent at 18.7 kg to 35.8 at 60.0 kg at Matopos and back fat thickness from 1.35 to 11.10 mm.
Research. Department of Research and Specialist Services, P.O.Box 8100, Causeway, Harare, Zimbabwe.
References. Chemitei et al, 1975; Manyuchi et al, 1987; McLeod, 1988; H.P.R. Tawonezvi, pers.comm.
Synonyms. Astrakhan; Persian Lamb.
Origins. Pelt producing sheep probably originated in the Near East (Syria, Jordan and western Mesopotamia). Karakuls were established about 1200 years ago in Bokhara and China. Karakuls were imported to southern African in 1907 from Germany to where they had first been introduced during the last few years of the 19th century.
Sub-types and races. Types are classified according to colour and pelt value. Mutton and wool types are being developed.
Distribution. The main pelt producing countries are USSR, Afghanistan, Namibia, the Republic of South Africa and Iran. Karakul are also found in Czechoslovakia, the German Democratic Republic, the Federal Republic of Germany, Austria and other European countries.
In Africa the major populations are in the Republic of South Africa, Namibia and Botswana, with small numbers in Angola and a very few in Rwanda: there may be a few crosses remaining from an original importation of 33 into Mozambique during the 1950s. In colonial times Karakuls were imported to Tanzania (then German East Africa), 12 rams introduced in 1907 producing 20 000 halfbreds by 1913. Karakuls were also imported, in the late 1920s, to the French Sudan (now Mali) in an attempt to produce pelts from the Black Maure sheep. In 1985 there were 1.4 million Karakul in Namibia, to where they were introduced in 1907, equivalent to about 66 per cent of the national sheep flock. The breed was introduced to south-west Botswana in 1953 and numbers had increased to about 30 000 on 200 farms by 1978 but in 1987 numbers had declined to about 14 000 in 80 flocks: the Smallstock Unit of the Botswana Animal Production Research Unit ceded 16 Karakul rams to farmers in 1985. Angola imported Karakuls from the United States of America between 1945 and 1959 (when 47 males and 77 females had been imported) and there were further importations of males from Austria in 1970. The maximum numbers of sheep with Karakul blood in Angola were 30 000 in 1969 but Karakul breeding was abandoned in 1975 although there is now renewed interest there in its use as a meat breed. Rwanda imported 2 rams and 10 ewes in 1983 for cross-breeding experiments with other exotic types and with local sheep.
Ecological zones. Arid to hyper-arid. In south-west Botswana rainfall is less than 200 mm per year: maximum temperature in January averages 35.8°C, minimum temperatures in July average 0.9°C and there are 35 frost nights per year. Carrying capacities of these areas are estimated at 27 ha/TLU. Low based vegetative cover is characteristic of the area and major grass species are Stipagrostis and Aristida while shrubs include Acacia, Boscia and Rhizogum trichotomum. The fruits of Citrullus lanatus, C. naudinianus and Cucumis africanus are important food and water sources in the winter.
The Rwanda highlands (1400 m, > 2000 mm rainfall) would not appear to provide an appropriate environment for this breed.
Management systems. Commercial ranching and pastoral. Flocks are very large in Namibia. In Botswana there are 11 "commercial" fenced farms averaging 7100 ha in area with a mean flock size of 550 animals: flocks grazing on communal pasture average 170 head. Flock structures are related to pelt production (for which animals must be slaughtered immediately after birth) and are comprised of > 95 per cent females. A total of 16 rams was provided to farmers in Botswana in 1985 under the ram subsidy scheme operated by the Animal Production Division.
Physical characteristics. Large size. Weight: male 54 kg; female 41 kg.
Head very strong, profile long and straight or very slightly convex in males.
Horns: usually present in males, slightly ribbed and spiralling backwards and outwards, then forwards. Ears medium length and pendent.
Neck short and thick. Chest well developed. Withers prominent and level with sacrum. Back long and slightly dipped. Legs medium length and relatively well fleshed. Tail very fat with thin terminal portion figure 97 . Marked sexual dimorphism with males much larger than females.
Figure 97: Karakul ram and ewe in a commercially managed flock near Bokspits in south-west Botswana
Colour variable but for pelt production grey is preferred, with black next: mixed colours are not liked in the pelt trade. Homozygous grey is lethal. Coat of coarse wool in adult: the skin of the new born lamb varies in texture figure 98 and is the pelt of commerce.
Products. Pelts; (wool);(meat).
REPRODUCTION. Age at first lambing: 446-672 days in South Africa depending on ewe's own birth season, earliest in ewes born in Oct, latest in ewes born in Mar. Lambing interval: 8.5 months (n=1305) in south-west Botswana.Multiple births: very rare; 19 of 3578 parturitions in Botswana traditional system gave rise to twins but 44 of 828 on Lobu station were twin parturitions. Litter size: 1.005 in Botswana traditional system; 1.05 at Lobu. Fertility (ewes lambing/ ewes joined): 84.4 per cent at Lobu station Botswana in 1985. Oestrus cycle: 18.9 ± 8.7 days (n=1081) in Namibia with heat lasting 25.2 ± 12 hours (n=3031); heat usually starts during daylight hours.
Figure 98: Karakul lambs showing variation in pelt types
GROWTH. Birth weight: 4.23 kg in Angola.Weight for age: 60 days-12.8, 120-19.7 kg in Angola. Average daily gain: birth-60 days -142, birth-120 -128 g in Angola.
WOOL. In Botswana 4488 kg of wool was sold to a cooperative by 171 farmers in 1985.
MEAT. Dressing percentage: 55.6 for 3 sheep averaging 17.6 kg live weight in Angola. Carcass composition: 61.3/35.1/3.5 per cent lean/bone/fat [tail presumably excluded] in Angola.
PELTS. Lambs used for pelt production are slaughtered the first day after birth, otherwise the characteristic curls and patterns disappear. Slaughtering and skinning is done by knife and by hand. Tissue and fat are removed with a knife and blood and dirt washed out with cold water. The wet pelt is spread, without fixing, on a frame covered with jute and dries in this form in the air figure 99. Most pelts are shipped to London for classification according to a standard system figure 100 ). The prices of pelts are related to:
Figure 99: A Karakul pelt drying on a jute frame
Colour. Grey pelts are better priced than black ones. Prices for chequered pelts are very low owing to a low demand and inferior quality. Botswana production of black and chequered pelts is higher than the southern African (SWAKARA) average, whereas the production of grey, white and brown pelts is lower .
Figure 100: Hudson's Bay and Annings classification of Karakul pelts from southern Africa
Pelt size. Pelt size depends on litter size and the nutrition and age of the ewe. Pelts smaller than a standard fetch much lower prices.</p>
Curl type. The breeder distinguishes among the shallow types in Galliac (almost without curls), Watersilk, Shallow and Shallow developed, and among the curl types in Developed shallow and Pipe curl, with many intermediate types. The shallow types were bred from the curl types in the 1920s. Only 4 classes are recognised on the market, these being Shallow, Developed, Ribbed and Curl. Better prices are achieved for shallower types.
Hair length and curl size. Prices are affected by hair length and curl size. "Good" is short hair or small curls and "bad" is overgrown hair or curls. Overgrowing is more common in years of good nutrition.
Hair quality and pattern. Hair quality is determined by lustre and texture while pattern has a considerable influence on the attractiveness of a pelt. Hair quality and pattern therefore have a high economic value.
Research. Animal Production Research Unit, Private Bag, Gaborone, Botswana.
References. APRU, 1986; de Almeida & Pimental, 1986; Faure, 1986; Martins, 1988; Matter, 1988.
Origins. The Merino is native to Spain. Its major strongholds as a wool breed are Australia (where most research has been done) and Argentina, and as a mutton breed in Germany and some other countries.
Sub-types and races. Many different types have been developed for different qualities of wool, for meat and most recently for prolificacy.
Distribution. In Africa there are large populations of Merinos in the Republic of South Africa, in Lesotho, in Zimbabwe (where they are equivalent to about 13 per cent of the "commercial" flock -- the Dorper comprising 65 per cent of this group), and in Kenya. Small populations exist elsewhere and there have been some notable failures in attempted introductions, for example in Mali.
Ecological zones. Semi-arid to sub-humid, the latter mainly at medium to high altitudes in Kenya and in Lesotho.
Management systems. Ranching and agro-pastoral.
In Zimbabwe commercial flocks are fairly large to large with 46 per cent of flocks having > 100 sheep, these flocks comprising 83 per cent of the sheep in this sub-sector.
Merino sheep were introduced to Lesotho in the late 19th century with Angora goats (p.114). The administration imported 85 rams in 1910 and 286 in 1910. Lesotho imported 1799 rams and 707 ewes from South Africa in 1986 when Merino numbers were estimated at 1.5 million. Most sheep and most imported rams are owned by small farmers organized in 4234 producer groups figure 101:. About 30 per cent of all households own sheep and/or goats, slightly more owning sheep than goats. Flock sizes are related to the age of the household head, owners > 60 years having 49 sheep, those 41-60 years 44 sheep and those 21-40 years 41 sheep. 'Mafisa' is a customary exchange system which can greatly augment the current flock of owners with small numbers of animals. The proportion of livestock (animal sales + fibre) to total income increases with age of owner but is about 25 per cent overall.
Figure 101: An imported Merino ram in a producers' cooperative flock in Lesotho
Physical characteristics. Small to large size. Weight: females 40 kg in Zimbabwe, 30 kg in Lesotho. Different types differ in conformation and productivity. Even "meat" types produce reasonable quantities of good quality wool.
Products. Wool; meat.
REPRODUCTION. Multiple births: fairly common in comparison to African indigenous sheep in Zimbabwe; very uncommon in Kenya, 97 per cent single, 3 per cent twin. Litter size: 1.35, 1.27 and 1.16 ± 0.079 (s.e.) (n=277) at Henderson, Grasslands and Makoholi stations in Zimbabwe. Fertility (=ewes lambing/ewes exposed): 88, 88 and 68 per cent at 3 Zimbabwe stations. Lambing percentage: 90 on combined Quthing and Mokhotlong studs in Lesotho (n=500). Lifetime production: 5.6 breeding seasons in flock at Grasslands.
GROWTH. Birth weight: 4.5, 4.2 and 3.4 ± 0.09 (s.e.) kg (n=53) at 3 Zimbabwe stations. Weight for age: 135 days(weaning)-14.8 and 20.4 + 1.21 (s.e.) kg (n=36) at Grasslands and Makoholi singles being 4 kg heavier than twins at the latter. Average daily gain: 238 g to 40 kg at 150 days when intensively fed at Henderson; birth-weaning - 148, post-weaning - 60 g in Kenya. Post-partum weights: 47.9 ± 0.90 (s.e.) kg (n=63) at Makoholi.
WOOL. Yield: rams 5.2 kg, ewes 3.4 kg on Kenya station; 2.2-2.5 kg on Lesotho sheep cooperatives figure 102 where wool is shorn, sorted and sold by producer groups figure 103.
Figure 102: The shearing and sorting shed in a Lesotho wool/mohair producers' cooperative
Figure 103: Technical and financial productivity of Merino sheep in Lesotho
Total wool production in Kenya rose from 823 280 kg in 1957 to 1.6 million kg in 1967, then to 2.1 million kg in 1968 but in the 1980s it has varied between 1.2 and 1.4 million kg per year. The share of wool in total agricultural production in Kenya dropped from 0.6 per cent in 1964-1972 to 0.1 per cent in 1973-1981.
MEAT. Dressing percentage: 44 in Kenya; 40.1 ± 2.45 (s.e) (n=12) at live weight of 37.1 ± 2.91 kg at an age of 284 ± 5.3 days in Zimbabwe.
Research. Formerly at Naivasha by FAO Goat and Sheep Project in Kenya. Department of Research and Specialist Services, P.O.Box 8100, Causeway, Harare, Zimbabwe.
References. de Bruijn, 1986; Mburu, 1986; Makhooane, 1986; Chifamba et al, 1988b; L.A. McLeod, pers.comm.; H.P.R. Tawonezvi, pers.comm.