African Damara sheep breed new to UK 'looks like goat'

A Damara sheep and its lamb Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The Damara sheep are native to African countries

Two farmers from north Wales will become the first in the UK to breed a type of sheep - that looks like a goat.

Damara sheep, native to African countries, have large fatty hindquarters and little wool, so can be mistaken for goats.

Anglesey farmers Peter Williams and Bedwyr Jones, will be importing embryos, in the hope the sheep will be born next spring.

They want to find out if the Damara can survive in the Welsh climate.

Mr Williams, who farms at Bryngwran, Anglesey, said the meat "tastes very different" and is "in demand among people from ethnic communities in the UK" who use it in traditional dishes.

He said he first came across the breed when he used to farm in Saudi Arabia.

"They look more like a goat than a sheep. It is a very lanky looking breed of sheep.

"They're one of the breeds called 'fat tailed sheep' because of the shape of their tails," he said.

The two farmers said they will also be crossing the Damara sheep with other Welsh breeds, using imported straws of semen.

Mr Williams added the breed has successfully introduced to Australia and coped with harsh weather, despite being native to Africa.

He said he intends to keep some of the sheep on his lowland pastures, whilst Mr Jones will take some to upland areas in Snowdonia.

The two men said this will help them to compare how the animals cope with different conditions.

Geraint Hughes, a farming consultant who's been working with the two men, said there are "big changes ahead for the sheep sector" and there is "demand in the UK for meat from fat-tailed sheep, which is said to be more tender, leaner and juicy."

"There are over 60 breeds of sheep in Britain, but there's potential for one more!"

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