Damara Handling and Markets
1. Handling Facilities
Unlike goats and most other sheep breeds, Damaras are very
easy to contain. The standard of fence you need is usually
related to keeping dogs out rather than keeping Damaras in. We
recommend hinge joint for boundary fences and electric dividing
fences. Two electric wires are plenty - top one for adult sheep,
bottom one for lambs.
There are two main types of hinge joint - "dog proof" and
"sheep proof" - dog proof has vertical wires every 15cm and sheep
proof every 30cm. They come in varying heights.
Dog proof is more expensive and has a disadvantage - some
sheep may get caught in them - not a big problem unless they are
starving in their paddock and there is nice grass through the
fence - they stick their heads through and may get stuck on their
horns. So use it for night yards and use 30cm wire elsewhere.
For yards, rails are far better than mesh for panels and
gates. Sheep can get legs through mesh and may break a leg. Rails
need to be close together near the ground and further apart
higher up. Sheeted yard panels or fences are best in forcing
yards and races.
We can suggest yard designs if you need it. You may need a
holding yard, forcing yard, race, drafting facilities and loading
ramp. We have found a goat handler good for drenching or
injecting all the flock. Or you can drench in a race.
2. Horns and Feet
Damara rams grow substantial horns. Some are wide, like Texas
longhorns, others curl closer to the head. We have never found
rams aggressive toward humans, but they can catch you with a
sharp tip as they run past. But horns are also useful handles to
catch and hold rams. We are told the Muslim market does not want
horns cut, but for locals we intend cutting horn back so rams
will fit down normal sheep races easily (leaving enough for a
handle). When horns are small and soft, secateurs will cut them
easily. Older ram horns need strong dehorners.
Some sheep of all breeds will get overgrown hooves if they
live on soft soil and don't do enough walking. The hooves of some
may need trimming back. We use good garden secateurs or special
foot trimmers. Our Damaras seldom need this.
3. Other Sheep Breeds
Our Dorper cross ewes have all lambed to a Damara ram and
revealed the first good thing we can say about our Dorpers- they are
very prolific - our ewes averaged 140% lambing. We cannot think
of much else good - they are wandering fence crawlers, they get
wool (pure Dorpers don't), don't flock well, and are not good
mothers. But their lambs (50% Damaras) are magnificent, so we
believe the Damper (Damara : Dorper cross) will be a very popular
sheep - all the easy care qualities of the Damara plus the
"normal" sheep look of the Dorpers. These lambs seem to grow
quickly. Just keep the Damara content high!
We gave up on our East Friesian fence crawlers and sold them
on the spur of the moment one day.
From our experience the ONLY disadvantage of Damaras is that
they do not look like the traditional fat lamb. So we must sell
them as a different product - once people taste a roast leg of
Damara they will forget the boring fatty lamb they are used
Damaras for Sale
Our flock now stands at about 300 sheep - about half pure
bred. With newly weaned lambs and new lambs coming now, we have
plenty of young rams but there are still a few mature pure bred
rams left. They are generally the better quality rams as many
people have been buying the cheapest rams available.
We are having a drought crisis with declining feed and water
so if you want any sort of ram you will find us keen to reduce
numbers. Now is a good time to negotiate a good deal. And for
those people who started with crossbred rams, now is the time to
upgrade to a purebred Damara. Your upgrading process will be very
slow (or absent) if you stay with a cross-bred ram.
Damara ewes are still scarce and expensive, but we can usually
find a couple of crossbreed ewes for people who buy rams.
Dorper Cross Ewes for Sale
We are weaning our Dorper lambs today so we have both Dorper
cross ewes and Damper ram lambs for sale. The breeding of each is
|Breed %||Dorper X Ewes||Damper Ram Lambs|
|Age||2 years||3 months|
Ring if you are interested in these sheep. They will go
quickly. They are good sheep if you have good fences and don't
mind a bit of wool. And they are probably pregnant to a good
We are interested to hear of other people's experience with
other cross breeds.
Damara Sheep (like Brahman cattle) improve most features of
every other meat sheep they are crossed with but it is useful if
the second breed adds something, and does not detract too
Sheep for Eating or Lawn Mowing
Now is the time to try some Damara cross sheep for eating. We
have F2 ram lambs in prime condition ready to eat. We intend to
fill our freezer soon. For locals, we know butchers who will
dress them for you.
Specially Quiet Damaras for Sale
We have a couple of rams raised on bottles, which are ideal
for people who want to start with very quiet friendly sheep:
|Class||F3||Pure Damara||Pure Damara|
|Colour||Black & White||Pale Brown||Light Brown|
|Age||5 months||1 week (on bottle)||5 months|
These very quiet sheep will go quickly, so call if you are interested. They
will be sold (and then only reluctantly) only to buyers approved by
Mother-of-All-Things, who raised them.
The Sheep Market
The sheep market is buoyant. Fat lamb prices are good ($40 -
$70 per head) and the wool market has kicked up. Australia's
sheep flock is at its lowest point for half a century. And there
is a swing back to decent food after a generation of unhealthy
fatties raised on muesli, pasta, battery chicken, fat free oils,
and reconstituted fruit juice.
Perceptive people are now looking for healthy natural food -
grassfed red meat, free range eggs, real butter, fresh fruit and
vegies, tea and red wine. The best food is the least processed
food AS LONG AS IT IS RAISED ON GRASS IN WELL MINERALISED SOIL,
NOT FORCE FED IN FACTORY FARMS ON UNNATURAL OR PROCESSED
The Damara export market is also strong. John Hall has
developed a market in Mexico and the first shipments have gone.
There are unfilled orders for Damara and Damara cross sheep for
the Middle East. Export prices for F1 Damara rams have risen from
$45 to $65 to $75. Genelink reports that once they reach the
middle east, they are valued at over $300 per head.
Prices for purebred Damara Rams has eased a bit and sales now
seem to be in the range $500 -$800. Top class stud rams sell for
about $2,000. Prices for ewes has gone up and sales are in the
range $500 - $700. (All prices plus Gouge and Screw Tax).
Locally, we have sold sheep to three abattoirs at prices equal
to "normal sheep". The local market just needs to sample the
product. Below is the verbatim comment from someone who bought an
F2 ram from us and had it butchered-
"Just to let you know that we had the Damara lamb roast on
Tuesday night, done in the Webber as planned. It was just
excellent. Very tender and delicious. It was so tender I
under-cooked it a bit, not that that mattered at all. It could
almost have been eaten raw." Chris.
Gatton Sheep and Goat Auction
An auction of goats and sheep will be held at Gatton at 11am
on Saturday 2nd February. We will have Damaras and Damara cross
sheep on display and for sale. No reserve price, so you may get a
Australian Damara Producers' Society
The AGM was held at Broken Hill on 15 September 2001. The
following committee was elected/co-opted:
- W.A. John Hall
- S.A. Charlie Crozier
- Vic. Phil McConachy
- N.S.W. Greg Scott (President)
- Qld. Viv Forbes
- Co-Opted Committee: Bill Filmer (Immediate Past
President, Vice President)
- Denis Russell (Genelink)
- Jane Phillips (Secretary/ Treasurer)
- Nic Boully (Domestic Markets)
A Sad Ending
We recently lost our loyal sheep guard, the Llama "Major".
Major has been with us for 2 years, and was no trouble at all. We
never saw him actually defending the sheep, but he certainly
looked like he would, and the sheep trusted him and looked to him
Major was a long-wool llama, and was getting shaggy, so in the
heat wave, we decided to shear him. Got a good shearer, and all
went well. Right at the last tidy up, the shearer must have
tickled major's flank - he lashed out a kick, hit the post, and
broke his leg. A really bad compound fracture, and we had to put
him down. Black armbands all round. The Damara flock looked lost
without Big Brother checking out their paddock for them.
And a Nice Beginning.
Most mornings, Mother-of-All-Things takes the sheep to their
paddock. But if left alone the Damara mob and Major take
themselves off. We just have to go over later and shut the gate
(or they come home for the night too early).
One morning they stopped half way up the hill and just sat
down for about an hour. We were just going to chase them out when
Major got up and led them off. Lo and behold, left behind was a
mother and new baby. They had all waited on the hill for her to
have her baby. After about 2 hours of bonding with her new babe
she followed the mob.
Viv & Judy Forbes.