John Eustace’s winning Hereford cows grazing on kikuyu pastures.
Some prominent Brahman-type heifers born from John Eustace’s Brahman and Hereford crossbreeding programme.
Dr Josef van Wyngaard, Voermol Feeds.
One of the main goals of the National Cattle and Sheep Farmer of the Year competition, is to enable successful cattle and sheep farmers to share their management practices with fellow producers. This year two well attended farmers’ days were held in April and May by the 2018 winners, in their respective regions.
Value adding, optimal utilisation of technology and sound natural resource management – these were the factors that separated the 2018 ‘Best of the Best’ National Cattle and Sheep Farmers of the Year from their peers. The 2018 winner of the cattle section was John Eustace of Moyeni Farm, situated in the Underberg area. In the sheep section, it was Andrew Jordaan Jr of Spekboomberg Farm in the Cradock area who took the honours. Both winners held impressive farmers’ days.
John Eustace’s farmers’ dayApproximately 160 visitors attended John’s farmers’ day on 10 April 2019. After the formalities, John explained the history of his cattle herd, as well as his successful veld, feedlot and other management practices. This included how his feedlot is run.
Dawie Maree, head of information and marketing at FNB Agriculture, discussed sustainable red meat production and favourable marketing strategies for the South African cattle industry. Voermol’s national technical manager, Ulrich Müller and technical manager, Dr Josef van Wyngaard, discussed how to add value to a farm feedlot as well as the secret behind successful cow/calf systems. Once the presentations were concluded, John showed some of his top cattle to the audience.
John and his father, Pat, farm with Braford and Hereford cows in mountainous sourveld with an average grazing capacity of 2 ha/large stock unit (LSU). Their main source of roughage for the cattle is natural veld, supplemented with cash crop residues. Management practices such as the strategic burning of veld, fodder flow planning and value adding by rounding off calves in a feedlot, are but a few of the factors contributing to John’s success. He has illustrated that not only is it possible to farm cattle against the mountain slopes – it is also possible to excel under these conditions.
He uses Hereford bulls on Brahman-type cows, while the Hereford-type cows are mated with Brahman bulls. The Hereford bulls are selected for their milk traits, pigmentation and conformation. In the case of the Brahmans, they are selected for conformation.
The cows start calving in August for a period of three months, after which they are moved to the lower lying areas and given a ration of hay, and maize and bean residues. The mountain veld is burned from 15 July onwards. A three-camp system is used and rotated every two weeks. Camp systems are rested every ten years for a year.
Calves are weaned in April and moved to winter grazing in May, where they are also given a winter lick. John aims for a conception rate of at least 85%. The extreme mountain conditions and the prevalence of predators such as leopard and brown hyena, limit the weaning percentage of the herd to 90% of cows conceived.
All of John’s cull animals are rounded off in a feedlot. Lighter calves are grown to about 220 kg on ryegrass planted among the maize residues.
The beautiful view during John Eustace’s farmers’ day in the Underberg district.John is the 2018 Cattle Farmer of the Year.
Andrew Jordaan Jr delivering his talk on successful sheep management practices.
Andrew Jordaan Jr’s farmers’ day
Andrew Jr’s farmers’ day on 29 May 2019 was well received with approximately 200 visitors in attendance. Farmers and organisations from across the country attended the day which was characterised by top quality speakers and presentations.
Dawie Maree of FNB Agriculture talked about favourable marketing strategies for the South Africa sheep industry, after which Isak Staats, head of wool and mohair at BKB, shared some international wool news. Voermol consultant André Fourie posed the question of whether to feed or not, emphasising that the practice of strategic feeding can be economically viable in a sheep enterprise. Dr Buks Olivier is a sheep breeding specialist and consultant, and he spoke about the real meaning of adapted livestock and how this can benefit a sheep farming enterprise. Andrew Jr concluded the presentations by sharing his successful management practices with the audience.Andrew Jr is in charge of the sheep section of a highly successful diversified family enterprise. The area in which they farm receives an average annual rainfall of 350 mm per year and has a grazing capacity of 2 ha/small-stock unit (SSU). However, the stocking rate of the farm, including the mountainous veld grazing, is 2.8 ha/SSU.
Their core sheep breed is the Merino. Cultivated grazing is a central component of their fodder bank which is optimally managed and utilised. In this regard technology is very important and Andrew has been at the forefront for 30 years, using laparoscopy in the sheep herd.
They focus strongly on record-keeping in which they make use of radio frequency identification systems (RFID). These practices, combined with sound feed practices and management principles, have yielded a lambing percentage of up to 170%.
The success of this sheep enterprise is enhanced by irrigated planted pasture. They successfully employ a rotational camp system with high-pressure grazing. Adult ewes are mated on the sour mountain veld, high above sea level, where good pregnancy rates are achieved on the plateau. The enterprise follows two lambing periods as well as a third winter lambing period for ewes that have finished lambing and are treated laparoscopically. The commercial ewes are mated naturally with one ram per 30 ewes. Dormer rams are used in the case of terminal crosses.
They make use of a lambing pen system. The recent pregnancy rate of the commercial ewes was approximately 97% with 63% multiplets, as opposed to an average long-term pregnancy rate of around 91%. The young ewes are laparoscopically inseminated at 12 months.
They overwinter in the veld and are moved to the planted pasture some six weeks prior to the mating period. Here they are sheltered against predators. Their breeding goals include fertility and a balance between wool and meat production.
Fellow producers are clearly benefiting from attending these farmers’ days and we look forward to seeing what the 2019 National Cattle and Sheep Farmer project will deliver.
From the left are Wilhelm Jordaan, (Brother of Andrew Jr), Leon de Klerk, (Voermol Sales Manager), André Fourie, (Voermol Consultant), Dawie Maree, (Head of Information and Marketing at FNB Agriculture), Andrew Jordaan Jr, (2018 Sheep Farmer of the Year), Andrew Jordaan Sr, (Father of the winner), Kenny Crampton, (Voermol National Sales Manager), Dr. Buks Olivier (Sheep breeding specialist and consultant), and Gert Smit, (Merino Breeders Society President).
Andrew Jordaan Jr’s sheep farmers’ day was held in a large white tent on their planted pastures.