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FARMERS’DAY: 2018 NATIONAL SHEEP FARMER OF THE YEAR

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,  a sheep breeding specialist and consultant, 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. RFID is used for record-keeping purposes. Their breeding goals include fertility and a balance between wool and meat production.

Fellow producers are clearly benefitting from attending these farmers’ days and we at Voermol are looking 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, and Kenny Crampton, Voermol national sales manager, Dr. Buks Olivier, specialist consultant: sheep section and Gert Smit, Merino Society President

Andrew Jordaan Jr delivering his talk on successful sheep management practices.

Andrew Jordaan Jr’s sheep farmers’ day was held in a large white tent on their planted pastures.