Globally, sheep are raised for their meat, milk, wool, leather or manure. An animal domesticated for several millennia, it has always brought a lot to humans. Today, in societies where ecological issues are very present, the sheep has added a new service to an already well-supplied range: that of eco-grazing. However, for such a project, the Cameroonian sheep have more than one asset. Characteristics, needs and breeding advice: this article tells you everything there is to know about this sheep apart.
Presentation of the Cameroon sheep
As its name suggests, this sheep is native to Africa, descending from the wild Asian mouflon, like all sheep. The Cameroon sheep is a so-called “rustic” breed. This means that the sheep of this breed are able to live outdoors. permanently. Even if he comes from a hot country, he tolerates the cold, on condition of helping him a little when the temperatures are very low (see breeding advice below).
His summer coat is short and already thick. In winter, sheep make a thick underwool that protects them from the cold. This winter layer falls by itself in the spring: it is the moult. Therefore, it is a sheep that do not mow : this allows significant savings in maintenance. Since the tail is already short, it does not need to be cut. The hooves are small and hard.
The male is distinguished from the female by a tuft of longer hair called a “mane”, which covers the front of the animal’s body, descending on the legs but not covering the head. Another male / female distinction, the horns: while the ewes are deprived of them, the horns of the rams are very aesthetic, rolled up on themselves, like that of the mouflon. The Cameroonian sheep are like all sheep. The horns of the rams are useful to them in the confrontation or the play with another ram. It is unusual for a ram to charge a man. Headbuttings can, however, leave out of impatience or embarrassment. It is then easy to take some precautions to protect yourself.
This sheep can have different shades of hair but there is a standard: the coat is brown, more or less dark, the belly and legs are black. The head is alternating brown and black, with touches of white around the eyes and on the muzzle.
An adult ram weighs between 45 and 55 k, for a height at the withers between 60 and 70 cm. A sheep weighs 10 kg less and measures between 58 and 65 cm at the withers.
Farmed Cameroon sheep have a life expectancy of 10 to 12 years, a period that can be extended when they are used in eco-grazing, to exceed 15 years.
Like all sheep, the Cameroonian sheep have a gregarious instinct: they therefore need the company of at least one other sheep. Be careful to adapt the grazing area accordingly!
In 2015, following the episode of sheep scrapie, a neurodegenerative prion disease affecting sheep and goats, and presenting a risk of exposure to humans, the importation of breeding sheep into Europe has been tightened. As research has shown resistance to the disease in animals with certain genes (so-called double ARR), the importation of rams or ewes that are not double ARR has since been prohibited. The Cameroonian sheep is one of them. You can therefore only buy sheep from Cameroon if they come from a French breeding.
Cameroon sheep needs and breeding advice
When you welcome a sheep into your home, it takes a good week of adaptation. Make sure that the animals you already own do not pose a danger to the sheep. If you have young dogs, supervise the meetings because if they are lively and want to play by showing it in a too agitated way, the sheep can be frightened. As he hates conflict, he will always prefer to take the escape. This would only lengthen the taming. In any case, you will have to be patient and regular in your presence at his side: the sheep must understand that you are part of its normal environment.
A sheep needs 300 m² of meadow. Since it takes 3 weeks to eat all the grass on this area, it is important to rotate to give the grass time to regrow. It is also beneficial in limiting contamination of sheep by worms.
If this sheep is rustic, that does not mean that it should not be given shelter. A shelter is necessary so that the animals can protect themselves from the rain and the wind. Sheep in Cameroon can adapt to living in the mountains, but it may be necessary to adapt the environment. The shelter must protect them well from drafts and humidity. It will be necessary to mulch the ground of the shelter and all around, so that their legs are isolated from the cold and wet soil.
As the fight against the cold requires more energy, the sheep will need unlimited hay and even pellets. You will also need to provide a system that prevents the water from freezing or breaking the ice at least twice a day. A cold sheep hugs its fellows and trembles. In the event of prolonged or particularly cold rain, do not hesitate to cover the sheep to prevent them from being soaked to the skin.
To avoid any shortages, especially when grass is scarce, you can give them unlimited hay all year round. Concerning the food supplements, we must be careful because the sheep can quickly gain weight if the contributions are not adapted to its way of life. As a general rule, animals which “produce” are supplemented, namely full ewes, those which suckle, or even sheep intended for meat production.
Despite its kinship with the mouflon, the Cameroon sheep is not known to jump. Also a 1.30 m high fence is sufficient. Like all sheep, it likes to scratch its head and sides. If he does not have a tree available, he will turn to the fence posts. Also you must seal these well.
There is some evidence that is worth emphasizing: the extent of your responsibility as a pet owner is one of them. Sheep have a naturally fearful temperament, with very good hearing and a very good sense of smell. All this makes it an animal ready to flee at the slightest fright, because of too loud a noise, an unusual presence or a behavior identified as hostile … You therefore do not have the right to mistake in the design of your fence! In case of escape, the sheep will not resist the attraction of green pastures. The damage in the neighbor’s vegetable garden quickly happened.