Van Rooy

The Van Rooy, also known as the Van Roy White Persian, is native to South Africa. They are generally kept for meat production, and are very well-suited to arid climates. Like the Persian they are fat-tailed sheep and also a hair sheep to tolerate hot weather conditions

In 1906, near the Bethulie district Senator J.C. van Rooy began experiments to develop a sheep bred for slaughter lamb production.

The requirements he set for this breed, were threefold:

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

With this in mind, Blinkhaar Afrikaner rams and Rambouillet ewes were mated. Selection for size and hardiness were the main criteria. The Van Rooy is a large, white fat-tailed mutton breed with wool and bristly hair to protect against the cold. The tail is characteristically fat-rumped which also classifies this breed as a fatrumped breed. Van Rooy sheep are still found in the arid areas where survival and reproduction on natural grazing are essential for the economic production of meat. Some farmers take advantage of the hardiness of the Van Rooy ewe and crossbreed with the Dorper, and Dohne Merino to produce a heavier slaughter lamb.

Black Head Persian

Also Called the Somali Blackhead or the Somalis Brazileria.

One of the more unusual and endearing breeds of sheep is the Blackhead Persian. Depending upon where you live, they are also called Swartkop Persie. Many people may mistake this sheep for a goat, because it does not grow wool. Instead it grows hair.

The Blackhead Persian never would have survived if it had grown wool. It was developed in South Africa from Somalian sheep and been successfully exported to very humid places like Brazil and the Caribbean. There is also a variety of a slightly different colour called the Redhead Persian, although Blackhead Persian purebreds can and do give birth occasionally to a Redhead Persian.

Because they do not have wool, the Blackhead Persian has been bred for meat and for leather gloves. They have what`s called a fat tail because tail and the area of the rump around the tail can store a surprisingly large quantity of fat. Another place where the sheep can store fat is the dewlap on the neck below the jaw.

If they were developed in Africa, then how did they get the Persian part of their name you may wonder? Legend has it that in 1868, a cargo ship carrying sheep from the Persian Gulf got stranded in South Africa by a terrible storm in the vicinity of Swellendam region. The white South African farmers knew a good sheep when they saw one and traded their sheep for the sheep on board the boat, which became the foundation stock of the breed.

Blackhead Persians gets their name from their entire heads and necks being black. This makes a startling contrast to their white bodies.

The Blackhead Persian sheep, a hardy, fat-tailed desert breed from Arabia, with distinct characteristics of hardiness, thriftiness, adaptability, pigmentation and hair covering. It also brings remarkable fertility with the ability to breed every eight months and to produce a high number of twins. The ewes produce fast growing and heavily muscled lambs yielding very satisfactory economic returns under a variety of environmental conditions.

They have long, goat-like ears and neither sex has horns. When they mature they can reach weights of 50kg for the rams and 30kg for the ewes.

The ewes have between one and three lambs at a time. According to the Domestic Animal Diversity Information System, the milk of Blackhead Persians contains 5.9% fat. They have a fat rump, short legs, and a compact conformation.

Blackhead Persians and Redhead Persians have been used to help bolster any native sheep breeds in hot, humid countries. They are noted to being a very healthy breed and have the ability to put on fat in tough grazing conditions.

There are many derogatory views of the race. The general opinion is that the sheep are much smaller than other fat-tailed sheep are found in Africa.

While they are indeed smaller frame sheep, it is not necessarily a disadvantage, as they eat less, have a good running ability and you can have 1.3 times more Persians per hectare comparing to other breads and that results in higher profit per hectare.

At the age of 12 months they weigh on average 40 kg. By the time they are four years, they will weigh about 54 kg and slaughter out 33 kg of meat . The Blackheads Persian has been used in many Cross breeding programs to produce sheep such as the Dorper, a very successful commercial breed which survive our challenging African conditions and has become popular in Australia.


The Damara is a breed of domestic sheep and was originally from Eastern Asia and Egypt. The breed then moved down to the present day Namibia and Angola. For many years the sheep were in an isolated region of Namibia and thus remained free of influence from other breeds. The name of the breed was derived from the specific region where the sheep were originally encountered (formerly known as Gross Damaraland).

The Damara is a fat-tailed sheep that grows short, coarse hair. They can be uni-colored (black, brown or white) or multi-colored (black and white pied).  Damara sheep can survive in a harsh environment and under poor nutritional conditions. The breed is exceptionally vigorous and can produce and reproduce where water and grazing is fairly restricted. This makes it very suitable for the communal areas of Namibia where extreme conditions are usually the norm rather than the exception. Research has however shown that the breed responds very well to optimum conditions.

It has a fairly high resistance to most sheep diseases and also good tolerance against internal parasites. The Damara sheep has a diverse diet. It feeds on grass, bush and shrubs and can almost be classified as a browser. Research has indicated that up to 64% of the diet of the Damara sheep can consist of browsing material. This places the Damara in the same feeding category as goats.

The mothering ability of the breed is exceptional. The ewes produce enough milk even to raise twin lambs which will occur in 5 to 10% of the births. They care well for their young and will even fight off predators when attacked by such. Orphan lambs are a rarity in the breed because of the outstanding mothering ability. It is known for example that ewes with small lambs can be transported over long distances without ending up with a single orphaned lamb.


The Dorper is a South African breed of domestic sheep developed by crossing Dorset Horn and the Blackhead Persian sheep. The breed was created through the efforts of the South African Department of Agriculture to breed a meat sheep suitable to the more arid regions of the country. It is now farmed in other areas as well, and is the second most common sheep breed in South Africa.

Dorper is a fast-growing meat-producing sheep. The Dorper is an easy-care animal that produces a short, light coat of wool and hair that is shed in late spring and summer. It was developed in South Africa and is now the second most popular breed in that country.

The breed is well adapted to survive in the arid extensive regions of South Africa, therefore will adjust well in other African regions. It has high fertility and maternal instinct, combined with high growth rates and hardiness. The breed has the characteristic black head.

Lambing percentages in South Africa of 150% are not uncommon, as well as an average fecundity of 160%. Rams reach sexual maturity at an early age and rams have been observed to start working by five months. Live weight gains that allow lambs to reach about 36 kg (17 kg – 18 kg carcass) in 100 days has been obtained from first cross animals grown in the Mallee region. Local experience indicates that carcasses with fat scores of 2 to 3 to be easily obtained under these conditions.

The Dorper adapts well to a variety of climatic and grazing conditions. In its native South Africa it has spread from the arid areas to all parts of the republic. It reputably does well in various range and feeding conditions and is also suited to intensive feeding.

The breed is extremely adaptable with a high ability to flourish, grow, produce and reproduce in irregular and low rainfall environments. Dorpers are known to adapt well to feeding-lot conditions which offers farmers an alternative method to finish lambs in times of drought. The breed is regarded as having the ability to graze.

Crossbreeds F1

SENSA Agri started their Senegalese breeding program in December 2013 when we imported our first Blackhed Persian, Van Rooy and Boer Goat from South Africa.

Van Rooy, Blackhead Persian and The Boergoat were the first to set foot here in Senegal, West Africa.

Our breeding program will revolutionize the meat industry in West Africa by dramatically improving the development of the genetic pool.

The Senegalese sheep are well adapted to the harsh environment but conformation and fertility is steeling all the profitability of the livestock farmers.

The new program will introduce better slaughter weights 25-40kg/ carcass and fertility rates of 2.5 lambs/per year. These breeds can lamb every 8 months and produce 1-2 lambs and 2-4 kids (goats)/ per lamming.

Contact Us

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Richard Belcher

Amanda Belcher