The 8th World Congress on Coloured  Sheep

Paris and Rambouillet France

 19 - 21 May 2014






1.   Review: Timeless Coloured Sheep. Phil Sponenberg

2..  Review: Congress & Timeless Coloured Sheep, Bruce Tinnock

3.  How to order the Congress Book, Timeless Coloured Sheep

4.  Photos



Timeless Coloured Sheep

Edited by Dawie Du Toit


Michael Imhof Verlag, Petersberg, Germany (2014)

ISBN 978-3-86568-960-3


Review by D. P. Sponenberg DVM PhD


 Timeless Coloured Sheep is a useful and beautiful book, and is useful to sheep breeders, geneticists, conservationists, and also to fiber artists. The book was expertly edited by Dawie du Toit, and his impeccable work shines through the organization of the book as well as the final product which is a delight to read.

  The book is hard bound and is printed on high quality paper that allows the many (558) colour photographs to come through with all of the clarity and detail that are needed to illustrate the many chapters. The colour photographs are supplemented by many others in black and white.

  The book is wide ranging in the topics covered, but manages to cover each of these in a depth that is useful to the reader interested in highly specialized details. A few chapters are devoted to general issues of sheep breed management with respect to coloured sheep. These serve as a very useful background to more specific chapters that follow.

  Several chapters are devoted to the history, wool, and biology of several different breeds of sheep from all over the globe. While the coverage is not exhaustive, the regions of the globe are covered extensively enough that the range of issues behind these breeds, and those facing these breeds now and into the future, are all well covered.

  Managing sheep in their environment is also dealt with in several chapters. These are important glimpses into the role of sheep in shaping familiar environments globally, and highlight the need to keep sheep involved in these situations in order to not lose these unique environments that contribute so greatly to global diversity. Putting the sheep in their ecological and cultural context is a very useful addition to this book.

  The output of these sheep—coloured wool—is covered in several chapters that explore the many different ways these wools are used worldwide. Processing, marketing, and the relationship of the various products with different cultures and regions are all covered. Each makes a fascinating insight into the unique contributions of these sheep to the human cultures that tend them. These chapters also highlight the range of possibilities that exist with these sheep and the wools they produce.

  The final chapters are devoted to details of genetic control of colour in sheep. These are placed in a useful context by a short examination of the uniqueness of sheep colour when compared to other species, and also when comparing wool sheep to hair sheep.

  Finally, the very detailed work of Roger Lundie on Agouti locus details is covered in several chapters. These range from an historical look back at previous research over decades. This is then updated with valuable data from Lundie’s own extensive experimental flocks as well as his observations on many other types and breeds of sheep internationally. His work takes the foundation laid by Stefan Adalsteinsson and others and greatly expands it. This is a most fitting tribute to Stefan, to whose memory the entire book is dedicated. Lundie very capably builds on the good work of the pioneering sheep geneticists, and each of them would be proud and satisfied with this extensive contribution.

  This book is a visual and factual treasure, to be read and re-read, and enjoyed each time.


Review: Bruce M Tinnock

  The 8th World Congress on Coloured Sheep held in Paris, France, in May, 2014, marked the fourth decade since these five yearly gatherings originated in Adelaide, Australia, in 1979.  Previous Congresses during that time were held in New Zealand, USA, UK, Australia and Brazil, each attracting participants from many countries of the world.  These included commercial farmers and lifestyle owners of coloured sheep, others involved in sheep and wool research, education, conservation, wool handcrafts, wool processing and marketing. 

  This 2014 event, held at the Paris Mercure Hotel Porte dOrleans, was the first of its kind to be hosted on the European continent.  Co-ordinated by Dawie du Toit, a breeder of coloured sheep from Prieska, South Africa, in association with travel and conference organiser Amélie Quenet of Paris, it attracted near 85 registered participants from countries including UK, USA, Australia, New Zealand, continental Europe and Scandinavia. Pierre Delporto of Paris, also played a pivotal role in organizing both the Congress and the Post Congress Tour.   

  With English as the official Congress language, thirty three papers were presented during the first two days of Congress sessions.  Topics included genetics of coloured sheep, sheep production and management, fleece biology, wool handcrafts, wool processing and marketing.  Several presentations were supplemented by colour projections, particularly appropriate when discussing coat colour patterns, but also providing excellent visual impressions of the various environments in which sheep are raised.  

  The third day of Congress featured an excursion by all delegates to the historic Bergerie Nationale national sheep farm at Rambouillet, to hear presentations on the history of Rambouillet merinos and of management of the present day flocks viewed.  These are direct descendants of the original 380 Spanish merino sheep bought by Louis XVI of France from the King of Spain in 1786 and which were established on the Rambouillet Estate, an experimental Government farm.  The excursion later continued to Versailles, where time was available for walks to visit the historic Chateau of Versailles and the vast expanse of parkland and gardens in which it is situated. 

  The Congress book published at the time [Timeless Coloured Sheep: edited by Dawie du Toit, Michael Imhof Verlag, Petersberg, Germany] includes all Congress papers presented, with additional special articles on various European sheep breeds.  Hard bound and printed on high quality paper, it features 558 colour photos of sheep breeds and coat colour patterns and some wool end products of handcraft and industry. 

  Other illustrations comprise monochrome photos and diagrams.  Edited by Dawie du Toit,  its layout and the emphasis on various details by utilising a variety of typefaces in both captions and text is impressive.  Digital technology has ensured an even consistency of quality in colour reproduction throughout.  The three contributions by coloured sheep breeder and geneticist Roger Lundie of New Zealand on The Agouti Locus of the Sheep are regarded as the most authoritative and comprehensive reference on sheep coat colour genetics yet published.  This book is an attractive and prominent work which will be appreciated world-wide by all people with an interest or involvement in coloured sheep and their wool.


Copies of the Congress Book can be  ordered from:

Nathalie Ketterle at:





Congress Participants in Versailles

Louis XV1 Sheep Arch, at the Bergerie, Rambouillet

Aerial Photo of the Bergerie Nationale, Rambouillet



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