The Sakar sheep is small, hardy and ideally adapted to life on Sakar’s rocky and harsh terrain. Producing meat, milk and fleece in lower quantities than almost all of today’s commercial sheep breeds, there’s a real fear the breed may face extinction in the next few decades.
In an interview with Agro-Journal.com, Sakar sheep breeder, Emil Kejbashiev from Kostandovo, Rakitovo municipality, Pazardjik district, said he thought the eradication of the breed was a real possibility.
“This is a vanishing species of sheep,” he says. “They’re characterised by resistance to heavier, mountainous conditions – [they’re] hard sheep! It is definitely a breed for the Balkan, with which our grandfathers have lived, grandparents … and now I have decided with them to live my life, to look at my family, as they say.”
“I have walked with the sheep. I have learned directly from them. This is the school of life itself, from the first step to this day with the flock, with the sheep,” he says.
Kejbashiev’s herd in Western Bulgaria is now around 600 strong, with 300 milking ewes. He says although he receives EU funding, the biggest issues associated with modern sheep keeping is the lack of pasture land for grazing and finding labour. “No-one wants to be a shepherd,” he says.