The Namibian Van Rooy Sheep Breeders Association has launched a handbook to guide farmers in the breeding and management of this rare breed amid concerns over its declining population.
The handbook was launched at the recent commemoration of the National Van Rooy Sheep Day, which was attended by both large and small-scale producers. The event was held at the Namboer Auction grounds in Windhoek and featured a Van Rooy braai and an exhibition of the best local pure-breeds.
Namibian Van Rooy Breeders Association President Piet Coetzee said the launch of the breeders’ manual was meant to stop the sharp decline in the population of the rare breed across Namibia.
He said the association will put the Van Rooy breed back on the map as a major Namibian small-stock sub-sector within the next 5 years through breeding programmes to be implemented in conjunction with up to 50 active and emerging communal and commercial farmers.
The association also pledged to host to regular farmer information days and inspection courses to help build small stock management capacity and increase the Van Rooy sheep population.
Only 5 of an estimated 50 Namibian breeders have herds of more than 200 Van Rooy sheep, despite research suggesting that, because they are “light” on the fields, 1 600 Van Rooy sheep can be reared in the same field where 1 000 Dorpers would struggle to survive.
The drive for the revival of Namibia’s Van Rooy sheep received a boost from Windhoek-based stock-feed manufacturer Nutri Feeds, which pledged to sponsor the exhibition of more than 300 pure-breeds on the occasion of the 2018 National Van Rooy Sheep Day.
Most Namibian farmers who have traditionally produced the Boer goat are beginning to show interest in the drought resilience and reproductive capacity of the Van Rooy sheep breed.
A fat-tailed, entirely white and hairy sheep with drooping ears, the Van Rooy is a South African cross-breed of the Ronderib Afrikaner and Rambouillet origins. It is well-suited to arid and semi-desert climates and is largely kept for meat production.
The Van Rooy breed is very rare and is found in small numbers in South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe, where it is believed to be on the verge of extinction following the disruption of commercial agriculture by farm invasions since February 2000.