The ancestral wild stock of both the thin-tailed and the
fat-tailed sheep is identical. Fat-tailed sheep made their first
appearance in Africa (Egypt) at the beginning of the second
millennium. Waves of this sheep type probably entered Africa at
various occasions through both the straits of Suez and Bab el
Mandeb. From Egypt, the population spread westwards into Libya,
Tunisia and eastern Algeria, but did not extend to the south.
The group that entered through Bab el Mandeb extended from
Ethiopia into the lake region of Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania, but
did not enter into Congo. The particular relevance of the fat
deposit in the tail to pastoral communities as a source of
energy-rich food might have contributed to the extensive
replacement of the original thin-tailed sheep by the fat-tailed
types. The fat-tailed, hair sheep inhabits the whole of eastern
and southern Africa from Ethiopia southwards. They are very
variable in tail form and in extent of woolly undercoat.
Fat-tailed breeds of sheep with hairy (carpet wool) fleece
extend westwards as far as Tunisia, while Algeria and Morocco
have breeds with the same hairy fleece, but thin tails (Epstein,
1971; Ryder, 1984).
Breed Origin :
The fat-tailed Pedi sheep arrived in South Africa between 200
and 400 AD with the Bapedi people who migrated southwards into
the Northern province of South Africa and settled in the area
south of Soutpansberg (Ramsay et al., ND).
Found in the Northern Province of South Africa. A flock of Pedi
sheep was established and maintained at the Stellenbosch
breeding station in Sekukhuneland in the Northern province and a
second flock was established for recording and evaluation
purposes on the farm Delftzyl near Roedtan in the Northern
province in the mid-1980s (Ramsay et al., n.d.).
sheep are predominantly grazers although, in common with other
indigenous African animal breeds, they are equally happy
browsing. Their extremely hardy nature makes them adaptable to
all the varied climatic regions of South Africa from the harsh
Karoo to the tropical Natal and Eastern Mpumalanga Provinces.
Small framed, naturally polled, fat-tailed sheep with a flat,
shallow body and long legs; the fat tail is usually long and
straight, although variations in tail shape do occur; coat
colour varies from uniform brown through white with a red to
brown head, to a variety of black and white patterns; the most
common colour is white with a red-brown head, which resulted
from selection for this trait in the foundation flock at
Stellenbosch (Ramsay et al., n.d.).
Commercial Viability of Thaba Manzi Pedis
the Pedi is a small framed sheep (adult ewes average 35 to 40Kg, rams
average 50 to 60Kg) that reaches an ideal slaughter / dressed weight of
18Kg (30Kg live weight) at around 12 months of age for rams and 14
months for ewes, its commercial production is highly competitive for the
Manzi Pedi sheep
are naturally selected, minimum care veldt sheep that cost very
little to keep.
Their fat tails are highly sought after
for the making of droŽwors and as an additive to game dishes.
Manzi Pedi sheep have high
reproductive rates (2 lambings per year, first lambing at 11 months,
6 month lambing intervals thereafter with a high percentage of twins
successfully weaned on the veldt)
Mothering abilities are outstanding.
(We have witnessed mothers actively defending lambs from jackal)
Thaba Manzi Pedi sheep are exceptionally
hardy sheep that hardly ever get sick.
The majority of our animals never
resistant to Heart-water and other local diseases.
At Thaba Manzi we do not even vaccinate
for Pulpy Kidney and Blue Tongue and Pedi sheep have a natural
resistance to heartwater. (In 7 years we have not had a
single sheep die of these causes)
Natural resistance to ticks. (Although
we do find ticks on our cattle and dip them regularly, our Pedi
have never needed dipping other than a foot bath in their race)
natural grazing habits and wide range of forage requirements allow
many more animals to be stocked without over-grazing at Thaba Manzi.
As Thaba Manzi's Pedi
are browsers as well as grazers they use the veldt more efficiently
to produce meat off the veldt.
Pedis have long strong
legs which allows them to walk long distances in search of food and
water and they stay in good condition even in the worst drought
increasing demand for grass-fed meat, free of additives, makes the
Pedi sheep a perfect breed for the future.
maintenance and "fire-and-forget-missile"
characteristics make Pedi sheep an ideal breed for emerging farmers and
for smallholders looking for worry-free "lawnmowers" for their plots.
On a kg/hectare/input costs basis Thaba
Manzi Pedi sheep cannot be beaten.
Properties of Thaba Manzi Pedis
Live well by eating well.
Tasty, tender and healthy - Thaba Manzi
Because of their wide and natural dietary intake. (they literally
eat anything - grass, leaves, roots, weeds, cactus etc).
Pedi sheep meat is
because the fat is mainly centred in the tail.
Because they are slaughtered at a later age, the
meat is more tasty.
Veldt sheep raised on grasses and bushes alone, our sheep have
no access to commercial growth stimulants.
Because these healthy sheep hardly ever need
de-worming or treatment, you don't eat the chemicals.
Growth and weight-gaining stimulants fed to
intensively produced animals probably contribute to obesity in the
people that eat them. Our Pedi sheep are free of these growth