Van Rooy Sheep Breeders' Society

History background information

In 1906 Senator J. C. van Rooy, of the farm Koppieskraal in the Bethulie district, started his experiments to propagate a breed of sheep for slaughter lamb production: The requirements he set for this breed, were threefold:

  1. The breed had to be strong and hardy to cope with regular droughts.
  2. It had to be fertile in order to maintain a high percentage of production.
  3. It had to have an excellent conformation.

With these aims in mind he made use of a white "Blinkhaar Afrikaner" ram and eighty Rambouillet ewes. With the progeny of these the principle of inbreeding, coupled with severe selection, was applied. This selection mainly aimed at size conformation and white sheep with enough wool in between the bristly hair to serve as protection against cold. Senator van Rooy realised that he could not dispose of fat localisation without sacrificing hardiness and fertility. Then an attempt was made to get good conformation with a little fat localisation on the body as possible and only a reasonable accumulation on the rump. Later on a polled Wensleydale ram was introduced in an effort to improve conformation. This ram was sent to South Africa by the English Government to assist in the advancement and improvement of the South African sheep breed and although the breed has been much improved since then it still complies with all the fundamental requirements that were set in those days. All-important characteristics have been preserved and present day breeding and selection keep them in view.

Van Rooy sheepThese sheep very soon acclimatised in the Southern and South Western Free State, and the north-eastern districts of the Cape Province, and farmers started making use of Van Rooy rams more and more. Only a limited number could be helped by Senator van Rooy with van Rooy ewes, and they succeeded in keeping their animals, true to type. On the other hand many farmers were of necessity compelled to make use of other native breeds for the up breeding of their breeding stock. For this purpose they used Blackhead Persians and Blinkhaar Afrikaners. The popularity of the breed is again on the ascent during recent years; especially since accentuated demand is the recent successes achieved by the Van Rooy Sheep Breeders with regard to mutton conformation.


PRESENTLY 86 members belong to the Breeders' Association


The Association was formed to watch over the development and interests of the van Rooy sheep. The Association aims at the improvement of the breed and therefore an inspection service has been instituted. Under this system the sheep of farmers, that are interested are inspected or selected by inspectors appointed by the Association. Stud animals are tattooed in the right ear for identification. Prospective Van Rooy farmers may buy their animals via the Association thus ensuring that they are procuring selected stock of pure breed. A national championship is held bi annually under the auspices of the Van Rooy Sheep Breeders Association. Improvement in quality is easily discernible here. From time to time Van Rooy days are held, at which the standards set for the breed, as well as marks for classification are explained. The programme usually includes also other interesting lectures on points of general interest.

All breeders of the Van Rooy sheep are herewith cordially invited to become members of the Association, to help us in furthering the interest of the breed. The smallest bit of support and advice can beneficially be utilised.

Any bona fide breeder of Van Rooy sheep may become a member of the Association and may continue so as long as he subscribes to the rules of the constitution and respects the decisions of the Association.

For further information and the prescribed application form, contact the

Van Rooy Sheep Breeders Association
P O Box 427
South Africa

Telephone: 054 4310 832
Cellphone: 073 310 2225

Scoring card description

5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5


Pigment is desirable on the eyelids of the sheep. Coloured hair is permissible on the eyelids, any other part of the head, body or legs. Pigment is permissible on the skin of the head provided the hair on such pigmented portions is white. The marks allotted for pigment are out of five. Pigment around the lids of both eyes -5; fairly pigmented on both eyelids -3; only little pigment on one eyelid -2; no pigment at all -1. A blue or white eye is a cull.


The Van Rooy Sheep is covered with strong white calcareous hair. The upper part of the body must have a woolly admixture of hair. On the head, legs and lower parts of the body the hair should be short and devoid of wool. A mane is undesirable. Marks allotted for hair covering are out of five. A covering of short white calcareous hair, with sufficient admixture wool to serve as protection against cold -5, small divergence's regarding length of hair and wool admixture -4; stronger divergences of same or when bristly hair shows on the brisket -3, small mane -2 clearly visible or long mane of mainly woolly or silky hair -1.


The tail consists of two parts, namely 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 should be smooth with short hair and no wool. The size of the tail should be well in proportion with the rest of the sheep. The marks for the tail are out of five. If the tail answers to the above description -5, a slight notch or break at the point of attachment, a slightly crooked tail, a slightly over-sized tail, or when a small portion of the skin, below the switch, is visibly naked -4; a skew or thick switch, a slightly curved tail, a tail inclining upwards so that too much naked skin becomes visible, a too large or small tail -3; the same defaults as for the 3 allocation, but aggravated, or a flap tail -2; a tail with the above defaults in the superlative -1.

Head and Neck:

The head should have length, breadth and depth, and a strong mouth with the teeth fitting well on the upper jaw. Broad and flat teeth, well spaced, are desirable. The eyes large and clear. Pigmentation on the head, as described under pigment. Nostrils elongated. Long and broad (big) ears are a typical trait of the breed. The profile of the ram's head is slightly Roman. Rams may have small horns though not longer than two inches. In the case of rams a slight localisation of fat on both sides of the nasal bone and behind ears, is characteristic of the breed. A medium semi-circular dewlap is essential. The heck should be well developed and firmly set on the fore-quarters. It should neither be too short nor too long.


  1. Fore-quarters:
    The chest must be prominently deep and broad, and project squarely to the front as far as possible. The shoulder blades as well as the fore-arms should be well fleshed. The shoulder-points should be prominent and far apart. The withers must be broad and flat, not pointed.

  2. Body or Torso:
    The back should be broad, long and flat, and fit well into the shoulders the loins well fleshed and evenly attached at croup. The ribs well arched and the body deep.

  3. Hind-quarters:
    Hips abroad, croup as straight as possible. Legs well fleshed and filled between the hind-legs with strongly developed shanks.


The sheep should stand squarely on his four legs, which should be dry, flat and thick. The front legs should display well-fleshed and developed fore-arms, far apart and perpendicular with strong pasterns. The hind-legs should include well fleshed and developed shanks, strong heels and pasterns. Too long pasterns should be combated. The hoofs must have an amber colour.

General appearance:

The various parts must be symmetrically joined to forma well-balanced sheep. Male or female should display those qualities characteristic of its sex. Sexual organs, where showing, should be developed without any indication of defects. Concentration of fat should only appear on the croup or such other parts as required by the fixed standards for breeding.

The mark allotted for conformation is out of five and should be given according to merit.

Size or Weight:

In its respective age group, the bigger the sheep the better. Full marks are five, allotted according to merit.


It is assessed by considering all the abovementioned characteristics on the whole, the balance attained and the degree to which the sheep approaches the sum total of all the desirable breed standards. Marks, out of five, allotted according to merit.

Requirements for stud

Pigment: At present pigment is not a sine qua
                  non for stud, but it is desirable.

Hair: An allocation of three marks is required for

Tail: For stud purposes a minimum of four marks.
Head and Neck: For stud at least four marks.
Conformation: For stud at least four marks.
Legs: For stud at least four marks.
Size / Weight: Four marks for stud
Type: At least four marks for stud.
Van Rooy Sheep

Where a mark of 4 points qualifies for entry to stud, will a mark of 2 or less be regarded as unsuitable.

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