Last update: April 7, 2011 12:14:13 PM E-mail Print

 

CONSERVATION OF THE NAMAQUA AFRIKANER BY THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

 

MA Snyman & J.J. Olivier

Grootfontein Agricultural Development Institute, Middelburg, 5900

J.A.N. Cloete

Carnarvon Experimental Station, Carnarvon, 8925

M.J. Steyn

Karakul Experimental Station, Upington, 8800

 

 

Two Namaqua Afrikaner flocks are maintained by the Department of Agriculture, one at the Carnarvon Experimental Station in the North-western Karoo and the second at the Karakul Experimental Station near Upington in the Northern Cape. These flocks are kept for the purpose of the preservation of this genetic pool and the collection of production and reproduction data on this breed. The Namaqua Afrikaner is one of the oldest sheep breeds in South Africa and was facing extinction when the Department of Agriculture bought one of the last pure bred flocks. This flock has been kept at the Carnarvon Experimental Station since 1962. In March 1985, 30 ewes and 5 rams from the Carnarvon flock were transferred to the Tarka Conservation Area near Hofmeyr in the North-eastern Karoo. Their numbers increased to approximately 100 breeding ewes, and was maintained there. In 1991 this flock was transferred to the Grootfontein Agricultural Development Institute. Since August 1995, the flock is been run at the Karakul Experimental Station near Upington. No specific selection is carried out in either flock. The ewe flock at Carnarvon consists of 90 ewes, which is mated annually for a five week period during April. For the purpose of keeping inbreeding as low as possible, the ewes in the Carnarvon flock are divided into three groups. Young ewes are replaced within the same group, while rams from the different groups are used on a rotational basis between the three groups. All rams are replaced annually with young rams. The animals in the Upington flock are run in a free mating system, and surplus rams and young ewes are culled annually on a random basis. Six to eight rams per 100 ewes are kept. Reliable data on the production and reproduction potential of Namaqua Afrikaner sheep have been collected on these two flocks and the results been published in a scientific as well as a popular form. Surplus rams and ewes of the Carnarvon flock are made available to the public on the yearly official livestock sale held in September at the Grootfontein Agricultural Development Institute. Animals have also been made available to museums and other institutions. In this way the Department attempts to make these scarce genetic material available to other people and institutions interested in conserving this ancient breed.

 

Published

Congress DAB-SASAS, Pilansberg, 1-4 October