Dumeri sheep, Highly Adapted and Multipurpose Animal of Highlands

Dumeri sheep can survive very cold weather. They are equally reselient to the hot dry weathering conditons. They can fluctuate the inner body temperature.
Dumeri sheep enjoying snow weather in Sanajavi Ziara.
The sheep has very unique special trait as they can sustain and survive both in the extreme hot and extreme cold weathering conditions.
Dumeri sheep, unique adaptation power.

Dumeri sheep 🐑, one of the most adapted and multipurpose sheep of the Northern highlands of Balochistan. https://arkbiodiv.com/2021/08/05/dumeri-sheep-of-north-east-balochistan-pakistan/

Photo credit: Ehsanullah Dumer

Dumeri Sheep of North East Balochistan – Pakistan

Dumeri Sheep


Dumeri also called as Hernai breed is found in Ziarat, Hernai, and part of Quetta, Pishin, Qillasaifulla, and Loralai districts. The nucleus of the breed is Sanjavi, Zalar, Hernai, Shana Gharra, Spin Tangi, and Zarghoon. The tribes who keep Dumeri sheep are Kakar, Wanechi, and Salgari, especially sub-clans of Kakar, i.e. Dumer and Zakhpail. They are living in the coldest ecosystem of the region. https://arkbiodiv.files.wordpress.com/2020/07/ccdb4-download.jpg

Dumeri sheep is very special and highly adapted to the local arid ecosystem. They can rely on the rough bushes when there are no rains and grasses and forbs are not available. This type of sheep can tolerate a very wide fluctuation of weather from very cold to very hot.
The beautiful landscape with a flock of Dumeri sheep. Photo credit Ihsanullah Dumer

Phenotypic characteristics

The sheep are medium in size. There are many coat colors ranging from brown to reddish and snow-white to a creamy color. The wool is soft, fine, and very suitable for yarning. The head of the sheep is red (in most cases) with horns in male animals. The ears are sometimes droopy and sometimes very small.

Dumeri sheep are medium in size. There are many coat colors ranging from brown to reddish and snow-white to a creamy color.  They are engineered with very unique DNA, surviving in challenging weathering conditions and sustain in scarcity of food and water.
Dumeri sheep; Highly adapted to the local ecosystem of the region and have very appreciating compensatory growth. Photo credit Ihsanullah Dumer


Dumeri sheep; Grazing on hardy bushes in Sanjavi, Ihsanulla’s uncle is grazing sheep, photo credit: Ihsanullah Dumer

Vegetation of the habitat much like by Dumeri sheep is comprised of Saba, Sargharri,
Mulghuzgi, Makhi, Rrandoki.


The population of the breed is a bit hard to compile because of the scattered nature of the
breed in a wide area. Moreover the estimation on the basis of the breeders and flock size the
estimated population of the breed is 1.3 Million. This breed shrivels in size because of two reasons,
The first reason for the shrinking was the drought, and this breed was severely affected. The second
reason is the high return of orchard farming of apple and Cherry in the region. Because of the
drought and other social changes, many breeders shifted towards orchard farming. Though the
number of breeders decreased the breed is again increasing in size.

Special traits

  • Assili mean good thriftiness nature, high compensatory growth
  • This breed of sheep is hardy and can survive in the dry period
  • The goat-like nature enables it to graze in the peaks of the mountains
  • The meat is tender and juicy, very much like by local consumer
  • There is more meat compare to bones compared to other breeds

Option Hopes

Dumeri sheep has very specialized qualitative trait, locally known as Asselli., Meaning can compensate growth loss when vegetation is available and can sustain life cycle when food and water is limited.
Dumeri sheep; Beautiful reddish color, photo credit Ihsanullah Dumer

Because of its goat-like nature, it can be very useful livestock in climate change situations as they can rely on the bushes and shrubs. Here are some pictures of the breed, surviving in the very cold weather of snow. https://arkbiodiv.com/2021/08/05/6809/

Economic Importance

Highly adapted to the local ecosystem and they can rely on bushes like goats. Photo credit Ihsanullah Dumer

The socio-economic condition of the breeding area of Dumeri sheep is good
and the people like the breed very much for Landi meat because of the high altitude and very cold winters. https://arkbiodiv.com/persendadry-meat-cousine-of-pashtun-afghan-2/. The male animal at the age of 2-3 years is used for Landi purposes and catches very good prices. The female produces a reasonable amount of milk and uses it locally for family use. The wool once had very high prices. The wool of Dumeri sheep is one of the finest in the country and had been used for Assessing the potential of the indigenous livestock breeds of Balochistan “Abdul Raziq” page 26. http://www.comap.ca/kmland/display.php?ID=144&DISPOP=VRCPR. Spinning in the Hernai woolen mill, administrated by the government is now nonfunctional. The breed is important to the source of livelihood earning. The prices of Dumeri sheep are about 100 and 145 USD respectively.

Small-scale production systems secure sustainable food supply and conserve biodiversity

Small-Scaled Farming

In this article, the term SSPS will be used both for agriculture and livestock production. SSPS is playing a crucial role in food production and biodiversity conservation throughout the world. In agriculture, SSPS is mainly comprised of the farmers holding less than 2 hectares of land. Such farmers usually depend on their local seed verities and use farmyard manure from their own animals waste for the fertility of their field crops. They do not use or rarely use pesticides and herbicides. They control pests with their own local/indigenous knowledge (IK), mainly comprised of biological control. They use their own skills for weeds control, as rotational cropping and grazing by the livestock, etc.

The small-scaled orchard farm in Borai, ensuring the frog breeding in a beautiful water canal

Small-scale livestock production is based on subsistence foundations. Such livestock keepers keep mostly their indigenous livestock breeds, as local breeds are well adapted to the ambient ecosystems (harsh and hostile). Local livestock breeds are resistant to many diseases and pests, like ticks and flies, etc. Indigenous livestock breeds (ILB) need very low inputs or even zero inputs for their production and survival. In many cases, small-scale livestock keepers are landless farmers. They rely on marginal lands for grazing of their livestock; such lands have no other use. The smallholding agriculture farmers are also holding small-scale livestock for food production, agricultural operations, and soil fertility.

Almond trees for cash income and Alfalfa crop for the livestock – both go hand in hand

Small-scale agricultural systems are more resilient to climate change and ensure biodiversity. Their production system is quite sociable and in concord with the biodiversity. In most cases, small-scale production is organic in nature and health-friendly. Traditional and indigenous cultures may be sources of agricultural knowledge useful for devising sustainable production systems. Small-scale producers, therefore, have an important role to play in achieving the Millennium Development Goals, especially MDG1.

Health and organic Fig fruit. It has a very special flavor and taste

Food security: Food is a very basic need and its security is the right of every individual on the globe. With a slight improvement this year but still the number of hungry people is around one billion. Food security is one of the major concerns of the present global scenario. Unfortunately, most of them are from developing countries. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are far away to achieve, especially SDG1 (eradication of extreme poverty and hunger).

Chilies, a vegetable for family use

The situation is even more worsening because of much sad state of situations, like land grabbing, factory farming, the struggle for gene control and climate change scenario, etc. In open market economies, multinational companies struggle to control genes and the political influence of the rich people combine to affect the small-scale production systems adversely. Small-scale production systems are the guarantee safe food for millions of people on the one hand and conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity on the other hand.

Biodiversity: Biodiversity conservation is linked to the question of food security. There is a very strong link between biodiversity and food security. More diversified the agroecosystems (life, soil, and landscape, etc) more the resilience of the community to climate change. Unfortunately, more than 90of the crop varieties have disappeared from farmers’ fields and half of the breeds of many domestic animals have been lost. The other flora and fauna, not documented and studied are even not recorded.

Native variety of Pomegranate – Uryagi Anar. The variety is very resilient to dry weather and very sweet and tasty pomegranate

Unfortunately, the present high input unsustainable production systems are based on high inputs (pesticides, fossil oil, fertilizers, and antibiotics) and promote monoculture. Such a move is resulting in the ever high loss of biodiversity and eliminating SPSS at a high level. Because of the high demand for animal protein, a short-cut solution was adapted to cross the indigenous livestock breeds with the high-yielding exotic breeds. A very limited number of breeds/verities within a species were selected for food production resulted in the narrowing of the consumption of biodiversity in the food chain. Also, high selection intensities within these breeds/verities resulted in further narrowing the gene pole of the biodiversity. The genetic variation, comprised of components between and within breeds/verities, is now under threat because of such intensive selection. The dependency on the genetic resources for food is narrowing, making the food chain even more fragile.

She is a camel herder, selling fresh camel milk. Her herd is composed of 8 camels only

Also, big ideas like dams, highly mechanized monoculture agricultural production (green revolution) resulted in a high level of environmental degradation and biodiversity loss. Such a dilemma resulted in minimizing the options for sustainable food production.

Conclusion: Small scale production system is very important for food security in the climate change context and conservation of biodiversity. Millions of people around the world are involved both in production and consumption through this system. Such a system is very much resilient to climate change and droughts. While using a very low or neglected quantity of fossil oil, they are mitigating climate change. The system is the custodian of the precious biodiversity of the agroecosystems, rich with biodiversity and in harmony with nature. Unfortunately, forces like, globalization, open market economies, gene control and industrialization/mechanization in agriculture are threatening this system. There is utmost need to characterize, document, visualize and prioritize this system both as a food security option and conservation of biodiversity. Also, it is the need of time to give the opportunity to play its role in the future food production systems.

Kakari Sheep breed flock in Loralai
Sheep is one of the most important and valuable livestock for small-scale farmers

To have a visual look at a very beautiful and successful small-scaled orchard farm in the Borai region of Balochistan, click on the link https://arkbiodiv.com/2018/07/16/the-farming-system-that-ensure-biodiversity-conservation/