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 Southern 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.).
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.).