The Africana is a breed of sheep indigenous to Colombia and Venezuela. The Africana sheep has mixed blood, and true specimens of this breed are limited to only a few flocks. With almost the same size and conformation as the Pelibüey, these domesticated sheep are mainly raised for the production of mutton. The Africana breed, which mostly comes in some shades of brown and tan, or similar hues, has been classified under the ‘hair breed’. Of the total sheep population, 36 percent are males and 64 percent females.
|Also Known As||Pelona, Camura, Red African, Rojo Africana, Colombian Wooless, West African|
|Coat Hair||Red, yellow, tan, dark brown|
|Horn Status||Mostly cut off|
|Weight (size)||2.5 kg at birth; 15–18 kg at weaning|
|Kidding/Lambing||15-19 months; 3 lambing can be obtained every 2 years|
|Diet||Stubble of cultivated crops, tree leaves, fodders and grains|
|Country of Origin||Colombia|
History and Origin
The Africana sheep evolved in the western part of the continent of Africa, with a large number of these animals being introduced to America, particularly to Colombia in the later years. Researchers opined that, these sheep reached the continent of America primarily by four means:
- They were taken to the continent along with the African slaves. At present, the population that remains has derived from those that survived from the lot meant to feed the slaves.
- This breed was also taken to Colombia by the merchants of the Magdalena department who had business connections with Curacao and Aruba.
- The sheep was also brought in by the smugglers that existed between Gaujira and the Caribbean Islands.
- In 1940, these animals were imported by Don Manuel Majia and were taken to the districts of venadillo, Armero, and Honda, where they are still found.
Behavior and Personality
These sheep are agile, resourceful, and can easily be tamed. They are extremely hardy, being able to thrive in inhospitable regions that suffer excessive drought and have scanty pastures. Both the adults and the babies would respond with faithfulness and affection to the care given to them.
They are often found in shades of chocolate, but also vary in shade from tan to cherry-red or dark red. However, the yellow or ‘Sudan’ type varies in color from yellow to reddish brown. Rarely, a few white specimens are also found. The red or Ethiopian (Etiope) type is red. But at times, the pigment is so dark that it might seem to be black. The main difference though is in their legs. The legs of the Etiope type are a little longer than the Sudan type.
The Africana sheep are known for their tender and tasty meat. By one year of age, the males can produce up to 49 kg and the females can yield about 45 kg of meat. A full-grown, healthy, four-year-old male can provide almost 80 kg of flesh. In most areas of the country, the trade of these animals takes place mostly at the weekly fair, where they are sold live to the butchers.
The females are ready to mate by 15 months of age, while the age of lambing is 15-19 months, with an average of 3 lambings every 2 years. 32% of the births give twins and 1% gives triplets. Weaning takes place when the lambs are 4 months old.
- As regards the population of this breed, it has been studied that an estimated population of 35 percent are purebreds and 65 percent are crossbreds.
- For a successful meat production, this breed requires at least 4 rams for every 100 ewes.