BINDOON farmer Derek Gascoine has been cross breeding Damaras at his Damara Maxima stud with Dorper sheep to provide a bigger carcase without losing too many damara qualities.
These included the damarasÍ desert foraging qualities, long legs and tail.
ñWe put the Dorper in to make the carcase much bigger and to make it a bigger animal, it also develops quicker away from the mother,î he said.
ñWe are weaning the lambs earlier with a bigger lamb in a shorter time.î
Mr Gascoine said the risk of crossing with Dorpers was losing the DamaraÍs characteristics.
ñThe Damara is a hard, thriving desert sheep which produces lean meat with a fat tail,î he said.
ñIt can also walk and forage a long way and we donÍt want to lose those characteristics.î
Mr GascoineÍs breeding program has been going for four years.
He is hoping to provide rams for the pastoral industry after buying a station property north of Yalgoo last November.
ñWe are in the process of stocking that station, there are 6000 up there at the moment,î he said.
ñEventually we will have 20-30,000 but we are still in a drought so things are a bit slow at the moment.î
Mr Gascoine used to run Merinos at the property but got interested in Damaras after traveling to Africa and the Middle East with Neil Garnett 10 years ago.
ñThey thrive in the equivalent of our pastoral country and I said to Neil I might buy a station and do this thing properly,î he said.
But it is not just pastoral regions that are proving popular with Damaras.
Other breeders are expanding their flocks throughout WA from Esperance to Northampton.
ñIn the wetter climates they probably need a little more drenching, they need to be taken off very wet,î Mr Gascoine said.
ñIf we kept them in lush grass and didnÍt take them out to the hills theyÍd get very scoury and unhappy.î
Mr Gascoine says he would know in two to three years if Damaras were a good business to go into.
But the signs were encouraging with a lambing rate as high as 150pc, or three lambs in two years.
ñItÍs very exciting in terms of the turn off of the ram lambs. It appears to be much higher than a merino equivalent,î Mr Gascoine said.