Fat-tailed coarse-wooled sheep were probably introduced to Africa about 3000 years after the thin-tailed breeds, via the Isthmus of Suez and the Bab-el-Mandeb straits on the Red Sea. The fat-tailed sheep replaced the original thin-tailed ones in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia whereas those entering Somalia and other parts of eastern Africa were ultimately taken by migratory owners to the southern parts of the continent. At present, wavy-wooled sheep dominates the indigenous sheep genetic resources of Egypt as well as those of Ethiopian and Eritrean highlands. A separate coarse wooled sheep exists in Somalia by the name Somali-Arab (Mason 1967; Payne and Wilson, 1999).
Breed Origin :
Almost certainly descended from very ancient importations from Arabia across the narrow Bab-el-Mandeb straits at the mouth of the Red Sea. Nomenclature of this breed is confused as many sub-types (Arsi-Bale, Tukur, Akale-Guzay, Rashaidi) have been cited (Wilson, 1991).
Natural habitat of this breed is the highlands of northern and central Shoa and some parts of Wollo within 39°–40°E longitude and 10°–11°N latitude; the altitude of this habitat is between 2500 and 3000 m, with cold and windy climate; frost is frequent between November and January; rainfall is bi-modal with an annual average of 1100-1360 mm (Galal, 1983).
Body size is small (60 cm height, and 35 kg); head is short with rather large eyes; facial profile is straight to slightly convex; have a pad of fat behind poll and on side of nostrils; horns are usually present in males, but absent in females; when present, horns are generally short, ribbed and spiralled; brisket rather prominent; fat tail is variable in length and shape, even within a sub-type (Wilson, 1991).