The almost fat-free Meet a very rare breed of sheep that’s fat-free until you reach its very fat tail.
chance meeting at our local Saturday market in Golden Bay started my interest in the Damara breed of sheep.
I had been trying to find an Arapawa ram that was unrelated to my ewes, not easy in an area with only a handful of breeders. When Arapawa breeder Armin Schramm turned up to buy avocados at my stall, he told me he didn’t have one, but he did have a Damara. I’d never heard of them so he said I should come and have a look, and I am very glad I did.
Armin and his partner Ora originally bred llamas on their lifestyle block and were the first in New Zealand to take people on llama safaris. These days they prefer to keep sheep, but not just any kind of sheep. Extensive research convinced Armin that the Damara breed would suit their lifestyle block after he studied their attributes, but the breed is so rare, it would take nearly four years of patience, waiting and searching before he found purebred Damara sheep to buy in New Zealand.
He started with the Rare Breeds Conservation Society registry and contacted the only two Damara breeders in the South Island but after two years he could not persuade either to sell any of their sheep. He then decided to look at buying from the North Island and spent a further two years waiting, without success.
Then one day, his luck changed. A North Island breeder who had previously sold Damara sheep to friends of Armin’s now needed to sell their farm and stock. Did he want to buy the sheep?
Armin bought two rams and two ewes that were unrelated, meaning he could start his own breeding programme. The bonus was, by crossing the rams with his Arapawa sheep, after three generations he could have the progeny bred up to purebred status as well.