Sharplaninska Pramenka Sheep

Breeds and animal husbandry - North Macedonia

The name of this sheep population derives from its original breeding area in the Shar Mountains (Šar Planina in Serbian and Macedonian), located in the western part of the Republic of Macedonia. Nowadays, however, this population is mainly found in the northwestern and central areas of the country. The main breeding area ranges from Bitola to the Prespa region in the south, from Skopje and Kumanovo in the north, and with an eastern border along the Vardar River. Compared to other populations of pramenka sheep, the Sharplaninska pramenka is small to average-sized. It is differentiated by the completely white pigmentation of the head, ears and legs. The head is small, and rams have well developed horns. Most ewes are polled (hornless), but horned individuals do exist. Legs are thin and finish in strong hooves. The tail length is thirteen vertebrae long. Ewes average 32 kg in weight and 55 cm tall at the withers, and rams average 44 kg and 63 cm tall. Sharplaninska pramenka sheep were bred for production of meat, milk and wool. The lactation period is on average 199 days with a milk yield of 63 liters per lactation (varying variation from 61 up to 120 liters). Often, the milk is used to produce white cheese, and lambs are sold for meat, but these products are generally do not label the breed of origin. The sheep are also kept for personal or family use. It is estimated that today, up to 30% of sheep population in the Republic of Macedonia belongs to this population. However, the genetic purity and distinctive traits of this population is under threat due to mating with other breeds, such as the Wurttemberg sheep. It is becoming more and more difficult to recognize the purebred Sharplaninian sheep.