The Damara is a breed of domestic sheep and was originally from Eastern Asia and Egypt. The breed then moved down to the present day Namibia and Angola. For many years the sheep were in an isolated region of Namibia and thus remained free of influence from other breeds. They are found in northwestern Namibia (Kaokoland) and southern Angola where they were herded relatively free from external influences, by the local inhabitants (Himba and Tjimba). The name of the breed was derived from the specific region where the sheep were originally encountered (formerly known as Gross Damaraland).
The Damara is a long, fat tailed sheep that grows short, coarse hair. They can be uni-colored (black, brown or white) or multi-colored (black and white pied). Damara sheep can survive in a harsh environment and under poor nutritional conditions. The breed is exceptionally vigorous and can produce and reproduce where water and grazing is fairly restricted. This makes it very suitable for the communal areas of Namibia where extreme conditions are usually the norm rather than the exception. Research has however shown that the breed responds very well to optimum conditions.
It has a fairly high resistance to most sheep diseases and also good tolerance against internal parasites. The Damara sheep has a diverse diet. It feeds on grass, bush and shrubs and can almost be classified as a browser. Research has indicated that up to 64% of the diet of the Damara sheep can consist of browsing material. This places the Damara in the same feeding category as goats.
The mothering ability of the breed is exceptional. The ewes produce enough milk even to raise twin lambs which will occur in 5 to 10% of the births. They care well for their young and will even fight off predators when attacked by such. Orphan lambs are a rarity in the breed because of the outstanding mothering ability. It is known for example that ewes with small lambs can be transported over long distances without ending up with a single orphaned lamb.
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