Introducing fat-tailed sheep to Wales to satisfy UK market demand

Introducing fat tailed sheep to Wales to satisfy UK market demand

Fat-tailed sheep are a domestic breed known for their large ‘fatty’ tails and hindquarters. These breeds of sheep are commonly found in arid, desert-like areas such as the Middle East, Northern Africa, Northern India and Central Asia.  They are renowned for being able to thrive in harsh environments due to their ability to gain weight despite a diet that is nutritionally poor. The unique tasting meat and fat from these sheep are used in traditional Arabic cooking and is in high demand by ethnic groups here in the UK. The eating qualities of meat from fat-tailed sheep is said to be more tender, leaner and juicy than their thin-tailed cousins. It is also found that their meat has a higher Omega-3 to Omega-6 fatty acid ratio and lower in saturated fat which are favourable qualities for human health.

This project was the first of its kind to introduce the Damara, which is a breed of fat-tail sheep, to the UK market place and the aim was for Wales to be pioneering in the development of this breed of sheep. This three-year project, involving two farmers from North Wales, investigated the feasibility of rearing both pure Damara and cross breeding them with Romney, Texel cross, and Lleyn cross ewes and monitor how well they adapted to the milder and wetter Welsh climatic conditions.


Project Outcomes

  • Frozen embryos and semen of pure bred Damara where successfully imported from Australia and the overall.
  • In 2020, six healthy pure-bred lambs were born as well as 75 cross-bred lambs, having artificially inseminated Texel, Lleyn, and Romney cross ewes.
  • In 2021 a further 9 pure-bread lambs were born, as well as 74 cross bred lambs, all with non-assisted births.
  • The pure Damara adapted well to the milder and wetter Welsh conditions, however grew more slowly compared to the Texel cross lambs similarly managed, grazing the same pasture.
  • After the successful breeding programme, the two farmers sought feedback on the lamb from several prominent Welsh chefs who praised the quality and flavour of the meat, one of which was Gareth Ward of double Michelin star restaurant Ynyshir, Powys.
  • This led to the launch of the ‘Damara Môn’ brand which sold its first meat box in September 2022 online.