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New WA White Suffolk record of $29,250

New WA White Suffolk record of $29,250

Kane Chatfield27 Aug 2020, 3 p.m FARM WEEKLYFollowing strong pre-sale enquiry, the impressive Ida Vale White Suffolk ram 19-4051 penned in lot 17 was brought forward to open the sale.

And it didn't...



(Dr Etienne Terblanche, Assistant Director, Eastern Cape.)
March 1979

A big long legged sheep with a hairy covering and a large tail was found with the Hottentots when the first white people arrived at the Cape in 1652.

The sheep had different colors, some black, brown-red or grey. From the shape of the tail two sub-types was differentiated. The sheep belonging to the Namakwa Hottentots, in the present Vanrhynsdorp area, had long, round straight tails. The sheep from
the rest of the Cape had wide, flat tails.

In the nineteenth century the wide tailed sheep from the Cape were known as the Afrikaner sheep and the ones with the straight round tails as the Namakwa sheep. It is accepted that the Ronderib-Afrikaner sheep was selected from the old Cape wide tailed sheep.

In 1937 27 breeders that lasted for a few years formed a breeders society and in 1960 the Blinkhaar/Ronderib-Afrikaner breeders society was established. The secretary was at Ruigtepoort,Phillipstown.

Description: The Ronderib Afrikaner is a fat tail meat sheep with a soft, shiny covering of wool and hair. White fluffy wool with a silky feel is the first covering on the skin with long soft glossy hair in the wool. No other color, brown or black, should occur. No kemp like fiber is allowed. The ronderib indicate the round or oval shape of the ribs – not flat like in other sheep.

Adult rams and ewes in extensive areas reach 80 and 60 kilograms. Rams usually have amber colored horns with one and a half turns and ewes can have small horns or none at all. Some polled rams do occur.

A prominent chest protrudes forward to the front legs and gives the sheep a square body. Rams show a mane on the neck and under the neck to the point of the chest. The head is quite long and narrow with a concave profile and Roman nose.

The tail has three sections and is very distinctive. It can weigh up to 8-12 kilogram and hang down to near the hocks.

Breed characteristics:
Head: The head is large and strong with a wide mouth and strong lips. From the side the head is slightly concave at the level of the eyes. There is a slight dent where the forehead and nose meet.
Breeders prefer a ram with a Roman profile rather than a hollow face.
The ears are 120mm long, narrow, facing down and tend to hang down. A dewlap is present in some animals. Brown to black pigmentation around the eyes is desirable. Rams can be polled or have amber horns with one and a half turns horizontally from the head. Ewes are mostly polled or have short thin horns.

Neck and shoulders: The neck is quite long and in the ewes quite slender. The shoulders are sharp.

Body: The body is large and long with a large girth. The chest is very prominent, slightly narrow and protrudes in front of the front legs. The back is slightly hollow due to high withers and a good developed loin. The rump is long and slightly sloping.

Legs: The legs are quite fine but strong and well placed on the body. The hoofs are strong and amber color.

Body covering: The body is covered with a light cream fleece of soft wool with smooth, glossy hairs 40mm length in the fleece. Too much wool is not desirable. The fleece has no staple formation and the wool has a slight crimp.
The body covering is shed during summer. It forms a matt and then shed. The new covering is more smooth and silky. The legs, chest, belly and face are covered with cream colored, soft, glossy, short hairs.

Tail: The tail has three sections. The wide main section hangs down from the rump and is as wide as the rump. This goes straight down to 70mm above the hocks. This narrows down to the second section turning upward for a third of the length of the first section. This section has no covering on the outside and forms a sharp point where the third section attaches. This is like a whip and is covered with short hairs, has no fat, is 70mm long and hangs straight down the middle of the tail.
A very wide, dish-like tail should be avoided. If the attachment to the rump is too solid, the ram will not be able to push this away with his shoulder when mating. At birth the tail of the lamb hangs down straight and turns up later to the typical three sections.
A twisted tail in the shape of a corkscrew or a tail hanging to one side is not acceptable.

Importance of the breed: The trend towards more lean meat had a negative effect on the Ronderib-Afrikaner as a mutton breed. In the semi arid and arid areas the Ronderib-Afrikaner had high numbers but had to give way to the Dorper.
The carcass of the Ronderib-Afrikaner is regarded as a fat tailed type and cannot compete for the highest grades. Purebred lambs grow slowly and reach slaughter mass at 6 to 7 months but does not present a good grade carcass. Therefor they are rather marketed at 10 to 12 months.
During the winter months the fat tail is quite in demand to be used with beef. The cubes of fat is firm and are used for sausage making.

The Ronderib-Afrikaner ram is often used with merino ewes for cross breeding. This is for the farmer in extensive areas that can keep the lambs for 8 to 10 months on natural pastures. The crossbred lamb is slender with long legs and develops slowly to reach slaughter mass of 16kg at 8 to 10 months. They are weaned at 4 months and kept on natural pastures until they reach a good slaughter mass. These crossbred lambs are very typical with smooth cream colored faces and white wool covering of
50 to70mm and they raise a lot of interest at the stock fare.

The Ronderib-Afrikaner ram is active all year round and has no kemp like hairs that can contaminate the fleece of the Merino. The crossbred lamb is small at birth and does not present any lambing problems. The crossbred lamb can easily be distinguished from the pure Merino lamb due to the lanky body, covering and smooth cream colored face.

The Blinkhaar/Ronderib-Afrikaner played an important role in the development of local breeds like the Vandor and Van Rooy. The Agricultural Department of the Karoo region make use of the Ronderib-Afrikaner in the development of a new white wool mutton sheep with 25% Ronderib-Afrikaner.

The hide of the Ronderib-Afrikaner is very sought after to make skin blankets. The silky mixture of hair and wool is unique for this purpose. The skill to make skin blankets and preparation of the skins is an art and skill practiced by only a few people and will soon be lost to the world.
The skins also qualify as “Cape Glover” and reach good prices for the manufacture of thin leather gloves.

Distribution: There are only 20 recognized breeders at this stage and they are all in the Cape province around Richmond, Philipstown, De Aar, Loxton, and Graaff-Reinet.