Developed by the Australian Persian Sheep Association The Australian Standard of Excellence is essentially the same as the South African Standard of Excellence except that colors other than black and red are recognized.
In Australia, in both the Kleur Kop and Skilder varieties the following colors are accepted :- red, black, tricolor, black and tan, sable, blue (dilute black) , roan (dilute red), blue and roan (dilute tricolor) and self (solid black and red).
It is important however that Australian breeders are not distracted by color. Of the 3 important features that form the basis of selection, namely conformation, marking ( ie the pattern or distribution of color on the sheep) and color, color is by far the least important. It is important that Persian sheep are structurally sound and marked as in the South African Standard of Excellence.
Description of a Persian Sheep
Breed Summary and Purpose. Persians are small to medium sized self- shedding sheep from sub Saharan Africa. They have been selected to do well in hot, dry, arid environments and have a number of genetic based physical characteristics not found in any other breed that assist them to do this. In addition they are prepared to walk and forage to find food and are able to maintain condition on mixed herbage much of which would be unpalatable to other breeds. Crossing with European breeds in particular the Dorset Horn ( to produce the Dorper ) and Romney produces sheep that not only develop exceptional amounts of muscle often on quite poor quality food but are also more heat tolerant. Due to the ability to produce robust heat tolerant individuals when crossed with European breeds, Persians, can to some extent, be regarded as the ovine equivalent of Zebu cattle and indeed share many of their adaptations to heat, namely loose pendulous skin folds ,large pendulous ears, localized accumulations of subcutaneous fat, and an increased ability to sweat. They do not require shearing, have a small tail that does not require docking and are virtually totally resistant to fly strike.
Two varieties are recognized, differentiated only by the pattern of colour: 1/ Kleur Kop ( or coloured head) – a white animal with a coloured head, the colour extending approximately half way down the neck , white extending up the neck or onto the head is a severe fault as is color anywhere else on the body apart from the head and neck. 2/ Skilder ( or speckled, painted or harlequin ) – these animals have a colored head, legs and tail with a white body exhibiting a variable amount of colored flecks or spots. The body should display easily recognizable patches on either sides of the body. In the ideal animal about half the white to be replaced by colored evenly spaced spots of approximately 2 -3 cm diameter. In Australia, in both the Kleur Kop and Skilder varieties the following colors are accepted :- red, black, tricolor, black and tan, sable, blue (dilute black) , roan (dilute red), blue and roan (dilute tricolor) and self (solid black and red).
It should be noted that dilute (blue and roan) Persians have a pale poll. This should not be confused with white extending onto the head which is a fault. A pale poll is a natural distribution of colour in a dilute animal. Some polls in dilute animals can appear white but are actually genetically very pale blue or roan areas.
Head In the ram , a strong head and neck, comparatively large with eyes widely spaced . A prominent nose with an unbroken convex curve extending from the top of the forehead to the base of the nostrils in lateral profile. In the ewe, similar to the ram but nose less arched or flat and finer . The dewlap, one of the defining features of the Persian is a large pendulous skin fold extending from between the mandibles . It should be prominent, well rounded, well attached and full. The ears are large and pendulous but in proportion to the head. Loose horn buds acceptable but no horns fixed to the skull.
Conformation The overall impression should be that of a strong , well- muscled robust animal. Forequarter Deep and wide with straight legs, spaced far apart. Chest wide , deep and rounded. Shoulders well attached and muscled. The anterior bones of the sternum , in particular the first sternebra or manubrium should be prominent and extend forward between the front legs (but not beyond a line extending ventrally from the base of the ears), and be covered by a large well rounded fat pad. A prominent manubrium is a defining feature of the Persian. Hindquarter Loin fairly long, wide hips with a square shape, well fleshed outer and inner thighs. Body Proper The body should have good depth with well sprung ribs , back straight from shoulders to hips. The rump should be well fleshed with a strong connection to the back. The groin should be held low and well filled
Tail set One of the defining features of the Persian. A bulbous subcutaneous accumulation of fat around the base of the tail and extending down to the anus. To be symmetrical and prominent but well supported. An inverted V shaped area of bald skin termed the mirror covers the central fat pad . This area should be well defined and pigmented without spotting. The mirror starts as a point below the tail and widens to about 1/3 the width of the fat pad at its base. The tail (or sambokkie) is small with no independent movement except at its base, is approx. 1cm wide and 12cm long, it extends from the dorsal surface of the fat pad , sits flat at its origin, hangs straight down and extends centrally about half the length of the mirror.
Temperament A tranquil and stately demeanour. Placid when regularly handled
Hair Covering Smooth and lustrous without evidence of wool.
Size Persians are a small breed of sheep Ram 50 -65 kg Ewe 35 -50 kg
The defining and unique features of the breed are a large and prominent dewlap, a prominent manubrium and the tail set with its mirror and sambokkie. The variety of colours are also a feature of the breed. It is important however that Australian breeders are not distracted by color. Of the 3 important features that form the basis of selection, namely conformation and structural soundness, markings ( ie the pattern or distribution of color on the sheep) and color, color is the least important.
Breed Contact The Australian Persian Sheep Association President Dr Colin Walker Coolibah Persian Sheep Stud 170 Coolibah Rd Pearcedale , Victoria 3912 Mob 0412481239, email firstname.lastname@example.org Websites www.australianpersiansheepassociation.com www.persiansheep.com
Red Speckle Ewe. Photo courtesy Coolibah Persian sheep Stud
Kleur Kop Persian Ram, Photo courtesy Coolibah Persian Sheep Stud
Skilder Persian Ram, Photo courtesy Coolibah Persian Sheep Stud