The al­most fat-free Meet a very rare breed of sheep that’s fat-free un­til you reach its very fat tail.

NZ Lifestyle Block - - Feature -

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.

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