Domestic Animal Diversity Information System (DAD-IS)

Bela Krajina Pramenka Sheep: The Best Lamb Meat in Slovenia


The Bela Krajina Pramenka are native Slovenian sheep. The breed is named after the region in the south-east part of Slovenia from which it originates. The breed has existed in the area for at least 100 years. Breed characteristics include longevity, strength, resilience in difficult and poor conditions, and the ability to graze on the dry Karst pastures that are common in the region. The Bela Krajina Pramenka is mainly used for meat production. The sheep perform well on pastureland and are excellent at preventing overgrowth, which thereby prevents fires in the dry environment. They can often forage in areas where other breeds and species find it difficult to graze. The breed is valued by the farmers because of its calm temperament, adaptation to the terrain, and the quality and delicious taste of its meat.

Hundreds of lambs are harvested for folk festivals and family celebrations. Unfortunately, the market for the meat products specific to the breed is not organized. A small part of the production is sold to local cooperatives; most lambs are sold to restaurants and eaten at various regional events. Bela Krajina Pramenka lambs obtain a higher price in the market than lambs of other breeds in the region.

Despite their positive attributes, in 2000 the Bela Krajina Pramenka population was down to 250 animals. Through a dedicated effort of breeders and the public service for conservation of animal genetic resources, the current population is now around 900 purebred animals. There are currently around 25 active breeding flocks number with an average size of about 30 animals.

The typical production system can be characterized as a low-input system. Traditional breeding methods are used; the sheep graze around homes until the first sign of snow and do not get any extra feed. The breeding goal is focused on the conservation of the breed and its distinctive features and special attention is given to the prevention of inbreeding.

The Bela Krajina Pramenka is regarded as a treasure by the local herders who have maintained the breed for centuries. The Bela Krajina Pramenka helps them sustain their livelihoods in an environment where the conditions are difficult for food production. Therefore, the breed will likely continue to survive in the future. For conservation and further development of the breed, improved promotion and marketing of the breed and its products are required, as well as raising the awareness of young people about the importance of indigenous breeds, to enhance options for meat processing and to establish a secure market.

Author: Danijela Bojkovsky, M.Sc.; edited by Malcolm Smith

Photo: Ms. Vida Rezar

Sources: Paper, Original Scientific. The Bela Krajina Pramenka Sheep – Conservation Strategies (n.d.): n. pag. Web.