8th World Congress of Coloured
- 22 May 2014
When sheep were domesticated about 10 000
years ago, they were most probably still coloured because all sheep have instructions at
level to be coloured. When man however started to dye
fabrics about 3 centuries ago there was a relentless selection
especially in the wool breeds for them to be white. White is not a colour but only absence of colour
pigment in the wool or hair of sheep.
Research into the coat colour genetics in sheep started
in the 1920s. During
the 1950's and 1960's Prof. J A Nel from South Africa, did some
groundbreaking research into the the coat colour of Karakul
sheep. Then in 1979
in Adelaide, Australia coat colour geneticists and breeders of
coloured sheep attended the the first Congress on Coloured
Sheep. At the next Congress in 1984 in New Zealand it was
decided that a Scientific Society COGNOSAG should be formed. This
is how Prof. Phil Sponenberg recalls the workshops that a group
of geneticists had in the latter half of the 20th
century to sort out coat colour genetics of sheep and goats:
scientific colleagues are especially important. The crew at
COGNOSAG (Committee for Genetic Nomenclature of Sheep and Goats)
stands out as one unifying group for early progress in the color
genetics of these species. In the 1980s we would get together
once a year in
at Les Doux Moulins. We would talk genetics during the day, eat
well, and then rub shoulders while doing the evening dishes. J.J.
Lauvergne was instrumental in getting the group started, and
Stefan Adalsteinsson and Scott Dolling were essential in
providing leadership and vision to the group. Several hard
working, clear thinking colleagues were closely involved in
those important early days: Paul Millar, Roger Lundie, Carlo
Renieri, Xavier Malher, Bernard Denis, Snejana Alexieva. To all
of these I owe a debt of gratitude for the organization they
provided to this subject.
Congress on Coloured Sheep 2014
9th World Congress on Coloured Sheep to be held in
Rambouillet, France, continues a unique tradition in which
people from many countries meet every five years to share
friendship and knowledge on all topics and activities of mutual
interest involving natural coloured sheep and their wool.
2014 Congress will mark four decades of these gatherings:
AUSTRALIA: National Congress on Breeding Coloured Sheep and
as a National gathering in Adelaide, South Australia, with
overseas speakers invited from U.K., Iceland, France and New
Zealand, the event attracted 200 participants.
Papers presented covered Genetics of Colour in sheep,
Husbandry of Coloured Sheep, Coloured Sheep and Wool Industries
in Various Countries, Coloured Wool in Handcrafts and Marketing
of Coloured Wool.
A range of Australian coloured wools was featured in a
National Coloured Fleece Competition.
World Congress on Coloured Sheep and Their
Zealanders attending the Australian Congress were inspired to
promote a similar event in their own country five years later,
to be designated a World Congress.
Conference sessions were held and accommodation provided
firstly at Lincoln College in South Island and then at Massey
University in North Island.
Fifty four papers were presented to 275 participants from
nine different countries of the world, including New Zealand.
Coloured fleece exhibitions and competitions displayed
the wide range of New Zealand wools, while bus trips provided
visits to sheep farms.
World Congress on Coloured Sheep:
Coloured Sheep and
Wool; exploring their beauty and functions
U.S.A. Congress, held in the western state of Oregon, attracted
354 participants from twelve different countries of the world
including the host country.
Sixty four papers were presented within areas including
Breeding, Conservation and Genetics of Natural Coloured Sheep,
Sheep Health and Management, Understanding and Preparing Wool,
Processing Coloured Wool and Marketing Natural Coloured
An international fleece competition attracted over 400
An adjacent annual event was The Black Sheep Gathering,
where Congress visitors could observe the wide range of American
sheep breeds entered for exhibition and competition.
UNITED KINGDOM: The World Congress on Coloured Sheep and
in England at the University of York, this Congress attracted
over 200 local U.K. participants and considerable numbers from
U.S.A., Australia, New Zealand and Japan.
Presentations included Genetics of Coloured Sheep, Sheep
Breeding, Sheep Breeds of European and Other Countries,
Conservation and Survival of Endangered Sheep Breeds.
A coloured fleece competition comprised of an
International section and a Breeds section displayed a total of
An organised Congress visit enabled participants to view
an exposition of the majority of British sheep breeds at the
Malvern Sheep Show.
Fifth World Congress on Coloured Sheep and their
“Coloured – Naturally!”
at Deakin University in the important wool centre of Geelong and
featuring optional tours through New South Wales and Victoria
before, during, and after the Congress, plus a further
opportunity to attend the Royal Melbourne Show.
Presentations were mainly by Australian and New Zealand
authors with further contributions of overseas speakers from
U.S.A., Canada, U.K. and France.
These included sheep breeding, wool marketing and wool
handcraft topics including dyeing, spinning, knitting, crochet
and curing sheepskin rugs. A coloured fleece competition
demonstrated the variety of mainly finer breed wools produced in
Sixth World Congress on Coloured Sheep:
Of Coloured Sheep
at Christchurch city in South Island where the Chateau on the
Park Hotel provided indoor conference facilities and a large
marquee in the hotel grounds to accommodate two hundred
participants during workshops and demonstrations with live sheep
in all weathers.
Coinciding with the Royal Show held in Christchurch,
Congress visitors had opportunity to view New Zealand’s
largest display of sheep breeds and the National Coloured Fleece
Competition which is consistently of world class.
2004 Congress proceedings are incorporated in “The
World of Coloured Sheep”, a special book produced at the time
and designed to bring together various peoples’ knowledge
about the breeding of coloured sheep throughout the world.
Colour photos of sheep breeds are a feature of this high
BRAZIL: 7th World Congress on Coloured Sheep
in the small attractive town of Canela in the province of Rio
Grande do Sul but
including bus trips to one of the world’s largest agricultural
and pastoral expositions near the large city of Porto Alegre.
The Congress was conducted in two official languages,
English and Portuguese, with simultaneous interpretations for
individual participants. Presentations included descriptions of
hair sheep breeds in the hot climates of Northern Brazil and
Southern Africa, and on other sheep breeds, sheep genetics,
production, health and marketing and on aspects of wool
Additional bus tours were organised to visit sheep
establishments, farms and research centres.
Countries that have
hosted the previous Congresses: Australia, New Zealand, The
United Kingdom, The United States of America and
Brazil. We look forward to bring the Congress to
Continental Europe for the first time.
The International Committee:
Dawie du Toit,
Eduardo Bernard, Brazil,
Wendy Dennis, Australia,
Rolly Thompson, the US, firstname.lastname@example.org
Barbara Allen, New
Olwen Veveers, the Uk, email@example.com
Dr. J J Lauvergne, France, firstname.lastname@example.org
Pierre Delporto, Framce, email@example.com
Marie Therese Chaupin, firstname.lastname@example.org,
I trust that we will
also be able to identify Scientists to present papers on
molecular coat colour genetics;
Present papers on the
coat colour of other mammals like the Alpaca
Since it will the 40th
anniversary of the Coat Colour Sheep movement, somebody who
attended all the previous Congresses to give a retrospective of
previous Congresses and the personalities
It will also be an
appropriate time to consider and celebrate the contribution that
COGNOSAG made to coloured sheep movement.
If you want to find out more about the heights one can scale
with coloured wool, you can read the interesting article, A
Woolly Fairy Tale, by Dana Kennedy, which
appeared in the Financial Times: