I finally have some sheep - Damaras.

Discussion in 'Breeding, Raising, Feeding and Caring for Animals' started by floot, Sep 1, 2010.

  1. floot

    floot Junior Member

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    I have always wanted a few sheep and a few months ago I purchased 14 Damaras after some intense negotiation..:think:

    A few years ago when I was off the property I hired a machine operator and during the course of the interview I learned that Blair could speak Swahili, French, Mandarin and could manage in Afrikaans. I near fell off my seat. He had virtually grown up in the Congo and had been schooled in Zimbabwe and South Africa. Later on he worked in China as a tractor driver!

    Anyway, I quizzed him endlessly about tropical agriculture and he suggested I try Damara sheep. He said they were more common in the Congo than goats and he was categorical that they would do well in Katherine. I was reading our local paper and someone advertised Damaras for sale. I phoned the gent and he was someone I had a bit to do with years ago.

    I went over to purchase 6 sheep and he had 14 yarded up so I took the lot. Thirteen ewes and one very young ram. A couple of weeks later we noticed one was a whether.

    The sheep at first were very flighty and suspicious. This was until I started to hand feed them about 2litres of barley a day. It took about a week and now I just go to a fence and yell out 'SHEEEEEEP-OH' and they hurtle up the paddock to see what I have.

    They have been here about 4 months now and are doing exceedingly well and we have 2 lambs. They get first go at all prunings and really do like banana stumps. They will nibble on the green leaves and then leave the plant alone till it dries and then peel the rest off and crunch it up. Their favourite is a plant I have known as Joshua Bush. It has 2 forms, purple & pale green and grows like a weed. It is an ornamental very common in tropical & sub-tropical gardens.

    I had a tenant that used my front garden as a mini horse paddock. This was one of the few plants that survived. So when we returned home this plant really took off and I had a lot to remove. It is very common and some years ago I read that it was a fodder bush. It is a good fence plant or shelter belt plant and can handle a wide variety of conditions.

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/dinesh_valke/348616110/

    Last week a friend and I despatched the whether. It was of unknown age and had a lot of teeth. It is the finest lamb/mutton I have eaten in years and years. If it is any indicator of Damara meat then I couldn't be more pleased. The carcase weighed 20 kg and I was pleasantly surprised at the good condition it was in. So far we have eaten the liver, loin chops, and a glorious lamb rendang from all the trim. I also boned and diced one shoulder for another lamb curry down the tracks. This sheep cost me then just over $10 per kg. which for organic lamb in the NT is cost effective. The whether cost me about $205, fencing is another story. Anyway as the ewes produce lambs it drives the cost down.

    The current selling price for Damaras here is $300 per ewe and $400 for a ram.

    Currently, I have a 'pack' of dogs. Two parents and 4 x 3month old German Koolie pups. They have done really well out of this too. I still have a few bones and 2 x 1kg bags of fat that I trimmed and will use it to supplement the dog food.

    Having decided to buy Damaras and having made plans to bring some to the NT it was a surprise to find out that they are the only sheep breed allowed in the NT. The NT only allows the Damara to be bought in due to the fact that they dont carry the bluetongue virus.

    I haven't cut up a sheep for many many years so the butchering was a bit slow, it took me about 2 hours to finish and I only finished up with 2 unrecognisable odd bits.

    cheers,
     
  2. pebble

    pebble Junior Member

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    Cool story, thanks. How are Damaras adapted to the tropics? (I don't know anything about them). Do you get wool off them?

    I hope you are eating the kidneys and fat too!! Lots of goodness in there.
     
  3. Tegs

    Tegs Junior Member

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    Congratulations on the sheep purchase! The are so much fun!!
     
  4. floot

    floot Junior Member

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    Pebble,

    Damaras apparently originated in Persia and are used all over Africa. They are very well adapted to the tropics. Mine have a bit of wool along the spine and the rest is hair, like a goat. They dont need shearing and dont seem to have any foot issues either. The breed is so old that natural selection has done a fine job on this animal.

    They are very fast too. My sheep have been clocked at 10.6 seconds over two furlongs and can certainly outrun my sheepdog pups for the time being. Seriously, I don't really know how fast they can run but the pups have them in training, for what I don't know. So for the past few mornings I have had the stockwhip out to give the pups what for.

    Cheers,
     
  5. Terra

    Terra Moderator

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    Congratulations on your sheep keep them friendly as they are a lot easier to handle . Aged wethers are fine to eat if you do them yourself , most of the meat in shops has been stressed to the max , by the time the animals get to the abbatoir they have been on and off trucks through auction systems , off water and feed for days ect ect no wonder a lot off meat is as tough as old boots .
    On the butchering subject my father used to say if you cant cut it up small enough to get it in your mouth you havnt tried hard enough LOL
    regards Rob
     
  6. floot

    floot Junior Member

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    Terra,

    I had a conversation just last weekend with a stock contractor and he was talking about 'withholding times' for stock. He used to cart from Julia Creek in Queensland to Horsham and Dandenong in Victoria basically non-stop. Those cattle had food and water withheld for at least 2 days prior and often 3 days prior to loading and then it was 36 hours driving to deliver the stock. Stock are often carted across the Nullabor under similar conditions. I do believe that Victoria and SA have addressed this issue somewhat.

    When I talked to my worker about 'knocking' the wether he asked if he could do it for practice it had been some years for him, although you wouldn't have known it to watch him. He agreed with me about the method. A clean shot between the ears and then promptly bleed the animal. I find it both macho and cruel to wrestle an animal down and cut its throat or worse still is the practice of sticking a pig so it can bleed 'properly'. Bah!! All of the very best pork I have ever eaten died a sudden death with a bullet in the head and that includes wild pork.

    I hope this conversation does not upset some of the readers. It is not intended to do so. I raise animals in an ethical healthy comfortable environment with a view to eating them.


    Pebble,

    Yes we did eat the kidneys in the lamb curry but not the fat, that went into a dog pot. The only thing wasted was the heart which I cut to check to see the quality of the bleed and the sheep. Next time it will be eaten too. The head was split and boiled for the dogs the tongue left in. The guts disposed of down a hole with half a bucket of lime over it and the skin hanging up a high tree. I will see if it survives and I might get a bit of greenhide out of it.

    cheers,
     
  7. helenlee

    helenlee Junior Member

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    Hi floot ... I'd love to see some photos of your Damaras ... they're pretty funky looking sheep :)

    I'm in agreeance with your thoughts on the method of slaughter. An animal shot while standing in it's own paddock eating a bit of grain off the ground put there by the human it knows is the most humane way to transit them from this world to the next in my opinion. The meat also tastes far better than slaughter house meat than it's possible to describe.
    Good on you for doing your own butchering & for using all of the animal.

    Just a very humble suggestion based on personal experience ... don't give the pups what for with the stock whip unless you want "whip shy goin' home bastards", which are of no use to anyone. If they're going to pet homes ... threaten on :)
     
  8. Speedy

    Speedy Junior Member

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    Damara or Damara X is the only lamb/mutton I've had for the last few years now.
    I'ts good

    My brother usually has 'a few' of them and slaughters often.

    A sharp knife is as humane as or even better than a bullet,
    it's as quick but no chance of a missplaced shot and cleaner re. bleeding the animal.

    the stomach contents are great in a wormfarm - excellent microbial life and they seem to love the partially digested vegetation.

    the guts themselves (ie. the bits that you decide not to eat) can go into the 'maggot farm':D Black Soldier Fly larvae that is.
    they deal with it fairly quickly if there are enough of them and the weather warm enough.
    actually BSF are a better option for hot climates than compost worms , they thrive and get hungrier in heat, rather than carking it especially in with lots of protein rich food.

    the layer of fat running down the back and tail, when rendered down is good for cooking with (the best potato chips ever),
    to make soap or added to feedstock for making diesel fuel to run the ute or tractor.
     
  9. helenlee

    helenlee Junior Member

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    A sharp knife is as humane as or even better than a bullet,
    I dunno about this ... if I had to choose for myself I'd take a bullet.
    With cutting their throat ... given that the brain is still working until they exsanguinate, they're going to feel the physical pain & the psychological terror aren't they? Even if you (universal, not personal you) weren't concerned about achieving the most humane death possible, isn't that going to cause adrenalin to be produced? Or is it too brief a window for the adrenalin to affect the muscle tissues?

    Doesn't a bullet in the brain (assuming a high level of accuracy & skill) have the effect of instant oblivion?
     
  10. Terra

    Terra Moderator

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    Floot
    Some people may be upset about animal slaughter and that is ok however it happens all around the world and is part of life , just as animals that kill and consume each other.
    I have produced livestock commercially for most of my life pigs sheep and cattle and a few goats , i currently lease my place to a cropping enterprise and work off farm part time , just started my spring shearing run .
    The subject of livestock transport is a real minefield , depending to the time of year and location it can vary from good practise to downright cruel , eg at the moment we have 14 degree days the sheep drink no water at all as they are on lush green feed , however they still get bundled on trucks and carted here and there , during the hot weather the sale system must be pretty tough on them . I used to favor selling sheep "On Hooks" which means you get a price per kilo of carcase , as we live about 700km from the main saleyards this i believe was fairer on the stock and a better return for us due to less wieght loss from dehydration as they went straight to the place of slaughter (no sale yards) usually overnight . Your method of dispatch is ideal , just be aware that useing firearms in some situations eg in the shed can result in highly dangerous bullet deflections.
    regards Rob
     
  11. Speedy

    Speedy Junior Member

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    There's a technique to it .
    Animal between the legs while you stand.
    snout in the air, held under the chin with left hand to expose the neck , knife in right.
    (Neck facing Mecca if it's for Muslim friends - an announce "Bism Allah".)

    Cut right through to the vertebrae, push down with left hand to break neck .
    all over in less than two seconds.
    dead clean, minimal suffering, no struggle.
    Never with anger in the heart and with respect and gratitude to the animal.

    When doing this with the animal in your hands,
    responsibility is taken for the reality of it.

    Confronting as it it, I feel that it's a good thing when people who choose to eat meat see it at least once in their lives.
    or even pick up the knife and use it.

    some, after seeing it may chose vegetarianism,
    but most who see it have a newfound appreciation for the cost of meat
    'karmic cost', for the want of better term, I'm not talking not money.
     
  12. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

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    With the cracked neck the lack of awareness would be instantaneous. I too have previously had images of a animal staggering around gradually bleeding to death over 10 mins or so. Thanks Speedy.
     
  13. helenlee

    helenlee Junior Member

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    Thanks for taking the time to share that Speedy. You've very succinctly described a whole conundrum.

    There's a technique to it .
    Animal between the legs while you stand.
    snout in the air, held under the chin with left hand to expose the neck , knife in right.


    This bit I knew. At 16 I lived with my boyfriends family in western Queensland. His father was the slaughterman & he & 3 of his brothers worked in the butcher shop in town. On weekends, we use to make some extra cash by doing home kills for people on properties. I saw Uncle Stanley kill a lot of sheep (& cattle & pigs) but either I never knew or had forgotten that the neck is broken at the same time.

    Confronting as it it, I feel that it's a good thing when people who choose to eat meat see it at least once in their lives.
    or even pick up the knife and use it.
    some, after seeing it may chose vegetarianism,
    but most who see it have a newfound appreciation for the cost of meat
    'karmic cost', for the want of better term, I'm not talking not money.


    This is a topic I've given a great deal of thought over the last 30 years. Not just the humanitarian issues around the method of killing, but the whole spectrum of ethical, spiritual & moral questions I have around raising animals for slaughter.

    I personally struggle with the act of killing. I have so far only been able to euthanize a couple of roosters & some mice with carbon monoxide poisoning. I'm ashamed I've always left the killing to my husband. Don't get me wrong here ... if my children were hungry I could kill & gut & skin Bambi with my bare hands. But until that day comes, I prefer to hide from getting blood on my hands. My role has always been the traditional feminine role of protector & nurturer of life. It's the reason I have 4 retired working dogs I can't afford ... I can't shoot an animal I delivered into this world with my own hands & have cared for & loved & trained to trust me all its life. I just can't. My husband could. It was something that horrified & fascinated me about him at the same time.
    Same goes with any animal we've raised for meat ... if all went well & I could keep my distance from it emotionally as well as physically I could deal with it ... but if something went wrong & the animal was sick & had to be bottle fed or was in the house overnight or I had some close contact with it where a bond of trust was created - no matter how brief - all bets were off. It was added to the "critters that get to stay" collection ... which infuriated my husband. I have to admit, it is very impractical, however the catch was that if I was any harder & had any more sense he would have been the first critter out the door so he didn't push the envelope :) Ironically, he could never deal with sick & injured animals or pooey bums or vomit. He would literally dry retch & run out of the room. I, on the other hand, nursed animals with horrific, disgusting injuries around the clock for weeks & wouldn't have thought twice about breast feeding a critter that needed it. Pooey bums were just routine.

    I'm rambling here ... what am I trying to say? That I think for me (one of ) the next step(s) on my spiritual journey will be to kill with my own hands. I've been thinking about it for a long time. For me, it's about my journey towards taking responsibility for myself & my own choices & needs & not relying on someone else to balance the yang to my yin. I need to be whole myself, & that means confronting the tough & scary things .. the "takes life" things, not just the "gives life" things. My husband says he's become softer because of living with me ... that he has compassion & gentleness where they never existed before. I guess both of us had stuff we needed to learn to become whole.
     
  14. helenlee

    helenlee Junior Member

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    Why are the gods so cruel?
    In between posting the above & now, I've been out in the paddock assisting twin ram lambs
    I found lying still & lifeless in their amniotic sacks. Luckily mum had the brains to yell out &
    I arrived in time to cheat that effin old bitch mother nature.
    While I was drying them & warming them & getting them latched on I was praying they were girls ... given that we immediately had high intervention ... but of course they both had to be boys.
    At one point as I was flying through the house towards the towel cupboard with a freezing soaking slimy filthy lamb under my arm I heard myself say "It's gonna be all right little mate". I tried to stop myself, but it just slipped out. I have never eaten anything I told it was gonna be OK. I just couldn't. I know I'm nuts ... but whatever.
    So I'm holed up in the shed with a pair of warmed up slightly perkier lambs in my lap taking turns at holding them on mammas boob thinking ... this is insanity ... I can't kill anything ... I can't kill anything I bred myself & I certainly can't kill this pair of sweeties ... I'm hopeless. I mean I'm sitting there eye to eye with their mother, sharing her concern, knowing she trusts me completely, doing all I can to get them going ... why? ... so I can eat them in the future? I don't think so.
    Either I find some really dumb ugly repulsive unloveable animal that never has birthing difficulties to breed for meat or I better get out & get that veggie garden on nitrous I think ...
     
  15. Terra

    Terra Moderator

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    Well done Helen dont be so hard on yourself you might not be a killer but you obviously have tons of backbone . My wife has resisted killing things until recently , she had become mad enough with feral introduced birds that wreck the garden to take action with ruthless efficiency , and i think there lies the answer , if you have a good enough reason you can do it , she has always been a lot better than me at getting orphan calves and lambs to suck a bottle . I have always been a hunter i made a lot of money from rabbits through the "70s" and "80s" i fish alot and have killed and cut up all manner of things for food , and of course hunted foxes ect because it needed to be done i cant recall ever hunting for "fun" ever . With sheep i lay them down stab through and cut away from spine , Instantly snap spine and sever spinal cord takes two or three seconds and a lot safer than cutting towards your own body .
    Kill a few mice and rats it will get easier .
    Regards Rob
     
  16. floot

    floot Junior Member

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    bump!!
     
  17. floot

    floot Junior Member

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    terra,

    Such a nice reply. My wife is an amazing saver/saviour to all sorts of things. Something I do adore. I too have hunted rabbits and foxes.

    Anyway, this was my dislodged post.

    Helen,

    You are correct in your assessment of a slaughter method. My method is just one and I have experienced the knife to the throat and the break neck thingie.. My point was, I dont know if I am that smart with a knife, also, I just can not get the sheep to lie next to my ankle without jumping on them and hurling them sideways. I respect that it is efficient and cheap.

    For those that are concerned about 'staggering around bleeding', you missed the point of the essence of my method. That sheep was shot from about 18'' away, say 500mm and dropped down dead. I am neither an advocate of chasing a sheep round a pen or a paddock.nor taking shots at domestic stock. I selected the method and trained my animals accordingly.

    If you think that this method is 'quick', next time you come to a railway crossing and see a train 15m away bearing down and you and understand what 'ADRENALIN' is and how fast it can work. If you really think you can wrestle or drop a sheep or pig in a few seconds and not have adrenalin rush through its' system, you are kidding yourself. Adrenalin is instananeous and lasts a long time.

    This isn't a discussion about methods, I am talking about the last moments of my own animals' life. The onus, I feel, is that it has to be humane for me and the animal, not the animal or the wider community.

    AND.... for the kind gent that mentioned HALAL/ islamic slaughter methods, I suggest YOU talk to a slaughterman who has actual experience in HALAL/KOSHER butchering methods. Most aussie slaughtermen, given a choice do not like this method.... 'COS THE CRACKING OF THE NECK DOES NOT OCCUR. This was pure piffle, ask anyone involved in religious slaughter and see what it contains.

    Under KOSHER/HALAL methods of slaughtering, they cut the throat, say a few prayers and let the animal bleed out. IF THE SPINE IS MARKED IT IS CONDEMNED. I am anti-kosher/halal butchering methods be allowed in australia due to abject cruelty.

    I am not anti-cutting an animals throat and breaking it's neck. I did mention it has been some years and slaughtering a sheep is not unlike shearing it. It takes practice. I am not about to 'practice' anything on my animals. I do not think the practice is cruel but I am not an advocate nor have I had any practice at this method.

    So I shoot them at extremely close range and actually train them to come up as a method... These sheep were running around my feet when the wether was shot at close range. No fuss and certainly no adrenlin or stress.

    Helen, just to inform. I do use a stockwhip on all my animals. I use it to call 'barley' with the dogs and the horses, sheep and cattle use it as a signal to run up to me. So whilst I was 'cracking' the whip at the pups, they knew to respect it, and in the middle of the night the sheep used it to focus on me and run up, ergo the pups followed. My animals, including horses, all respect, as in hear the stockwhip as a benign element in their training. Actually, I have the first ever gun-shy, whip-shy dog ever and I have no idea why. Most of my dogs have loved crackers, whips, guns etc..

    The stockwhip on pups doesn't scare them, it just focuses them on me but I do appreciate, from someone who knows, that the stock whip is generally seen as a form of punishment to stock. This is often the case. .. :)

    The man from SA, I do respect your stance on this. I am not about transporting stock but some of the attitudes that prevail are 19th century not 21st century. Hail you.

    cheers,
     
  18. helenlee

    helenlee Junior Member

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    Hi Terra ... thank you for your kind reply & your reassurance & encouragement.
    Hunting might be the answer for me. It makes sense environmentally & is possibly the most humane method of obtaining meat ... given the animal has lived a totally wild, natural life free of the stress & pain of domestic livestock raising practices & dies instantly (ideally). I think I'd be able to hunt for meat. I'm a good shot & something about the lack of a trusting relationship between the animal & me makes me feel a lot easier ...it seems to be mostly about the betrayal of trust with me. (I also understand the argument that if we do raise animals for meat that the kindest death is at the hands of the person it knows & trusts most & who has greatest concern for it's welfare ... kinda weird to say that when we're talking about slaughtering it, but you know what I mean.)

    Hi floot ... I'm curious about your use of the stockwhip. I've known people who trained a dog to go out to the sound of a cracking stockwhip ... but never anyone who used it to get an animal to come to them. I can't understand how it would work when working in the paddock ... although I've only worked on large properties where the stock are driven long distances towards the yards ... which is the usual practice in Australia ... as opposed to the traditional European system of teaching animals to follow the stockman ... which is becoming more popular here & has a lot of merit in being much less stressful for the animal (& the humans probably). I've used it when living on my own. My animals (horses, cattle & sheep) are often virtually impossible to get to run off you, making them difficult to anything with in the yards (especially for a husband who could never get his head around a different method than the one he knew so well .. this thread is giving me great insight into why I'm no longer married!). But my animals all come to me at the sound of my voice ... so that they'll still (theoretically!) run off me with a stock whip.
    When you say The stockwhip on pups doesn't scare them then clearly you're not giving them a touch up with it, which is what I thought you meant when you said I have had the stockwhip out to give the pups what for in your earlier post.
    Actually, I have the first ever gun-shy, whip-shy dog ever and I have no idea why. Most of my dogs have loved crackers, whips, guns etc..
    With some dogs it's in the breed. I have 2 dogs here now who are litter brothers. They have a double cross of Ping in them ... Ping is well know for throwing the odd shy pup. Dozer ... you could flog him with a stock whip from dawn till dusk & he'd still go out the paddock with you the next day & never leave your side even if you flogged him with it again while you were out there. His brother Rogan was going fantastic when he was broken in & then just flipped. If you were out in the paddock & you used the whip ... he'd go home. You couldn't stop him going no matter what you did. If he was my husbands dog he would have shot him & fair enough too I suppose. Going home dogs are no use to anyone. But I delivered him out of his Mum myself ... so he's still here. He got worse as he got older ... if I even shout at the kids or one of the other dogs, or my husband & I had an argument, he just slinks off out of sight. Other people have had the same problem with Ping dogs ... it's in the breed.

    I'd love to see some photo's of your sheep :) When's lambing?
     
  19. helenlee

    helenlee Junior Member

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    My wife has resisted killing things until recently , she had become mad enough with feral introduced birds that wreck the garden to take action with ruthless efficiency

    Even with us earth mumma types Terra, you seriously don't want to piss us off :)
     
  20. Speedy

    Speedy Junior Member

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    Floot, I'm with you 100% on the live bleeding thing, it's not necessary.
    I don't discount the use of a rifle at close range as a means of killing either.
    If we do a pig or bovine we'll use a rifle before bleeding.

    I've not had anything to do with Kosher killing (It's a bit stricter i believe, than Halal)
    But over the years I've had contact with different Muslim folk and
    when it comes to Halal requirements for slaughter, there are a lot of contradictions
    There dont appear to be any set rules for it.

    I don't know what they do in commercial halal abbatiors in Aust.,
    but i figure the'd have a standard practice or set of regs to stick to.
    I guess they do exist cause butchers here sell halal meat.

    I've asked people about it from ethnic groups from Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Sudan, Egypt
    and they say diferent things (that is apart from the pork thing. :D)

    some dont break the neck, and some i've seen is downright cruel and messy and
    I don't like it... and I tell them that.
    most are willing to listen and change
    others don't question breaking the neck immediately.

    There seems to be more of a concern with having the animal properly bled.
    When shown that an animal who's neck has been broken can be
    more thoroughly bled than one that has been left to kick around, they're totally ok with it.

    Cheers:)
     

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