Sunday, July 19, 2015

Maybe, if you look closely at the photos, you will be able to guess how the Blackhead Persian Sheep got their name.  Well, at least the "blackhead" part of it.  The sheep are actually from Africa, though, and not from Iran, so I am not exactly sure why they are called "persian."

This breed of sheep mainly comes from Somalia, which is in the Horn of Africa.  Instead of having wool, Blackhead Persians have hair, like chihuahuas.  This way, they can tolerate the heat of East Africa much better.

A Blackhead Persian ram imported from Zimbabwe
to Kongwa in central Tanzania in 1963
Blackhead Persian Sheep were first brought to South Africa in 1869 by Somali traders who shipwrecked on the Cape there.  Now the breed is quite popular in that country, and is sometimes known by the Afrikaans name Swartkoppersie.  Blackhead Persians have also been introduced to the hot, tropical regions of the Caribbean, where have done well.

Sheep market in Kenya, 2012
The sheep have a white body and a black head, with the two colors sharply divided.  They have a compact build, fat rump, and short legs.  They are grown mostly for their meat, but also for their milk.  In addition, their skin can be made into a number of fine leather products.

The ewes are especially valued because of the fact that they can breed every eight months, and they often give birth to twins.  They continue to produce milk for about 84 days, for a total of 110 pounds of milk.  The fat content of the milk is 5.9%.

When they are born, the lambs weigh about 6 pounds.  At maturity, ewes weigh 115 pounds, and rams weigh 150.  Both sexes are polled, which means they don't have horns.

In my opinion, these are very interesting-looking sheep.  I like their black heads, and I especially like their fat little rumps!

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