Sheep Breeders Celebrate 20 Years

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By Fifi Rhodes WINDHOEK The Namibia Damara Sheep Breeders Association is hard at work to make a big impact during the coming Windhoek Agricultural and Industrial Show, to celebrate 20 years of sheep-breeding in the country. The Association will make this year’s showpiece special by presenting it as an “International Show”. The exhibition will not be excluded from the normal show but will be different in that it will be known as the ‘Top 15 Show’, where each breeder will be allowed to enter only his best 15 sheep for the individual class and five animals for the group class category. Around 300 Damara-bred animals will be showcased by the 60 breeders. Agra has made some new alterations to the judging ring, at their own expense, and the arena will be used exclusively for the Damara breeders. The Association’s old-time sponsor, Caltex, this year gave N$12ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ 000. According to Jan van Staaden, chairman of the Association, the show will be a knockout. “There are not yet enough facilities for small-stock judging close to the Agra-ring which, in the past, made judging very hectic throughout the show and put a lot of pressure on the organizers to finish on time. We want to do something special this year because 20 years of sheep-breeding calls for a celebration of a different kind,” he said. “We can now do our judging over two days and still have ample time for a short information session with breeders. “It will also give our sponsors time to have enough exposure and to spend quality time with our clients and other show-goers,” he said. The first time damara breeders entered their animals for shows was 20 years ago at Otjiwarongo where Steven Collard did the judging. An international expert will this time do the judging and will present some valuable insights to the breeders’ club. The Damara sheep is an ancient and unique breed of sheep which originated in the Hamites of Eastern-Asia and Egypt, from whence they moved down to Namibia and Angola. The sheep were kept in isolation for many years in Namibia and thus remained free of influence from other breeds. They were herded by the Himba and Tjimba tribes. The name of the breed was taken from the specific region, known as Great Damaraland at the time, where the sheep were originally encountered. The sheep can survive in a harsh environment and under poor nutritional conditions. The breed is exceptionally vigorous and can produce and even reproduce where water and grazing are fairly restricted. This makes them very suited to communal areas in the country where extreme conditions are usually the norm rather than the exception.