Ayachi Ahmed


Because of its extent and geographical diversity, Algeria has a very rich animal heritage. Among its animals, sheep whose roots, so deep, become bogged down well beyond the Numidian period, constitute a heritage that is both natural and genetic, highly varied. However, it is mainly the two steppe breed, namely "Hamra" in the West and "Ouled Djellal" in the East, which have left their mark on the richness of this living national heritage. It should be known that in the early days of French colonization, large quantities of sheep from Algeria, stolen from different steppe regions of the country, were exported to France, but also to its colonies. However, research on this subject reveals that a strong preference for the Hamra breed has quickly seized the brokers responsible for the collection of livestock for export. Thus from 1929 until the last years of colonization, more than a million heads of sheep "Hamra" will be exported, annually, by the French colonists to the metropolis, more exactly to the port of Marseille. Embarkations were made from the port of Arzew, in the West, and the port of Algiers, for the Center and the East. Currently, to make their farms profitable, sheep owners have chosen the ovine genetic type which makes it possible to achieve the best economic and financial profits. And so it was from the time of the mechanization of the steppe and the drought of 1970 that the regression process of the ovine breed Hamra was accentuated. In fact, all the
breeders of the Hamra breed who were formerly hampered by the distances and especially by the reliefs and the lack of means of transport of the cattle began to use heavy breeding rams such as the Ouled Djellal type. This led, over time, to the genetic absorption of the Hamra sheep, which occurred in favor of the Ouled Djellal breed and its crosses, which now constitute more than 65% of the national herd population. Only 20% of which are purebred. Thus, after forty years and in the absence of a policy of management of animal genetic biodiversity, the Hamra breed is now in danger of total extinction. This could be the loss of a national genetic resource but also a heritage that is more than a thousand years old. In fact, apart a few former breeders who still hold a small number of sheep descended from the Hamra breed, this Algerian sheep breed has become unknown today by the majority of young breeders. Pending the reaction of the public authorities, the association for the preservation and promotion of the Hamra breed (APPRHamra), newly created in the wilaya of Naama, engaged with the scientific community (geneticists, agronomists, veterinarians ...) a action to promot this breed and militates in for the preservation of this animal heritage dating back several centuries.


History, Hamra breed, sheep and preservation

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