Tomorrow is Van Rooy Sheep Day

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Staff Reporter

Windhoek-The vast inroads Van Rooy sheep have made in the past decade has resulted in tomorrow being declared Van Rooy Sheep Day for all small stock farmers.

The big day at Namboer Auctions in Windhoek is the brainchild of the Namibian Van Rooy Breeders Association and proceedings will kick off at 09h00 already with an information session, followed by an inspection course, both of which will prove very informative.

At 18h00 organisers will reward its members with honorary membership awards and thereafter two Van Rooy sheep will land up on the spit and the meat will be accompanied by succulent, traditional sheep potjiekos. All Van Rooy breeders and farmers interested in the sheep breed are welcome to attend the events of the day.

The breed was first developed in 1906 by (and named for) JC van Rooy, a South African farmer in the Bethulie district. It is a cross between indigenous Ronderib Afrikaner sheep and Rambouillets. It is a fat-tailed hairy sheep generally kept for meat production, and is very well-suited to arid climates. Van Rooys are polled, have drooping ears, and are entirely white.

The breed is relatively rare, even in South Africa, but has also been exported to Namibia and Zimbabwe. Van Rooys are strong and hardy to cope with regular droughts; are fertile in order to maintain a high percentage of production; and have an excellent conformation.

The Van Rooy is a medium- to large-framed sheep and both rams and ewes are polled. The sheep has a characteristic dewlap from the jaw to the brisket and a very prominent chest and brisket. The breed is covered with strong white hair. The upper part of the body must have a woolly mixture. On the head, legs and lower parts of the body the hair is short and devoid of wool.

The tail is characteristically fat-rumped and consists of two parts – the main upper part and the switch. The main portion should be broad and firm, and affixed as high as possible. It is oval towards the rear with a slight upward tilt at the end from which the switch hangs down vertically. The switch is smooth with short hair and no wool. The size of the tail should be well in proportion with the rest of the sheep.

Van Rooy ewes can be mated throughout the year and are ideally suited for accelerated lambing systems. The sheep prefer arid to semi-arid savannah. The skin makes good glove leather. Van Rooy rams are widely used to produce cross-bred lambs, which put on fat on the carcass at a much earlier stage than when cross breeding two non-fat-tailed breeds.

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