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Hunt is on for SA's Best Cattle and Sheep Farmers

The best cattle and sheep farmers in South Africa will again be honoured this year by the animal feed company Voermol Feeds, and nominations are now open.

Kenny Crampton, Voermol Feeds’ national sales manager, says the competition is being run with Landbouweekblad, the National Wool Growers Association, the Red Meat Producers Organisation, FNB, BKB and Zoetis.

Voermol Feeds has called for nominations from farmers and representatives of the sponsors, farmers’ associations and other agricultural organisations. See the accompanying entry form. The closing date for nominations is the 31 July 2024.

Any leading livestock farmer who enjoys esteem from his fellow farmers can be nominated, after which a team of experienced, independent judges will select three finalists in each division and visit them on their farms before choosing the winners.

In the final assessment, the following are considered: resource utilisation, fodder flow planning, pasture management, breeding and selection measures, record-keeping, comparison with other norms, marketing and value addition, herd production, appearance and condition of animals, infrastructure, personnel management and participation in organised agriculture.

The best cattle and sheep farmers will be crowned at a dinner in November 2024.

The cattle farmer of the year award has been presented for the past 19 years, while the sheep farmer of the year has been named 18 times.

Kenny says it is important that the winners share their knowledge and experience, so farmers’ days will be held on the winners’ farms. The dates will be announced as soon as possible after the awards dinner.

Click on the links below for the nomination forms.

Voermol pays tribute to Peter and Joan Boyes

Shelley Cornish, Voermol Feeds

On Thursday, 4 April 2019, we were saddened by the news that Joan Boyes, who we had met just a few months prior, had passed away at the age of 92. In December 2018 Joan and her son Duncan, joined us for tea at the Voermol Executive Office in Maidstone, Kwa Zulu-Natal. Both Joan and her late husband, Peter Boyes, played a pivotal role in the establishment of Voermol Feeds. Joan, the author of two novels since the age of 90, very quickly won our admiration for her energy, astuteness and ‘joie de vivre’. During the visit, Joan and Duncan reminisced about the years when Peter had worked as an engineer for the Tongaat Sugar Company.

‘The Birth of a Bull Calf’
Up until 1958 the removal of molasses was a problem for the Company. The vision was that animal feeds could be manufactured from molasses and bagasse, both by-products of the Tongaat Sugar Mill. In 1958, Peter Boyes, an engineer, and Dr. Geoff Cleasby, an agronomist, were given the task of finding a satisfactory solution to the disposal problem. However, molasses was a difficult-to-handle product and the challenge was how to convert it into an animal feed which could be conveniently fed.

Joan told us that Peter and Geoff began experimenting and she was asked to fetch a sausage machine from a butcher in Tongaat. It is now part of Voermol’s history that in 1958 the first product, based on a combination of molasses and bagasse, was produced using that sausage machine. The mixture was given to a few farmer friends to feed their stock, who ate it readily!

By 1962 the process was sufficiently advanced to allow for the construction of a pilot plant behind the sugar mill bagasse shed. The management of the Tongaat Sugar Company decided to found a new company to produce and market the animal feeds being developed. The incorporation took place at a Board Meeting held on 4 August 1962. Present were Messrs C J Saunders (chairman), A D Hankinson, G A Ellis, J P H Bentley and R B Thompson (secretary), with Peter Boyes and Geoff Cleasby as managers. A new company was formed called “The Moreland Molasses Company”. At the time Mr. Douglas Saunders, chairman of the Tongaat Sugar Company, who had shown a keen personal interest in the fledgling feed company, announced that “Tongaat’s bull calf had been born”. The new company’s name was later changed to “Voermol Products Ltd.”, then to “Tongaat Milling (Pty) Ltd.” and finally to “Voermol Feeds/Voere”.

By the end of January 1962, the first bags of Voermol Meal came off the production line. Peter Boyes, was the first manager of the company, a position he held until September 1979 when he retired as managing director. On 27 April 1990 a contract was signed for the design, manufacture and supply of a new production facility for Voermol Feeds. At the end of January 1991, Voermol Meal, a forerunner of all the present molasses-based feeds, was produced in the new factory.

Voermol Feeds became the first company in Africa and possibly the world, to successfully commercialise a combination of molasses and bagasse. Molasses is not only a good source of energy, with vitamin B and trace minerals, but it is also very palatable and a good binder; thereby reducing dustiness of the feed. With the result, livestock are more likely to get a balanced intake, as they are less likely to feed selectively. Today, Voermol offers a wide range of products that are scientifically formulated to meet the nutritional requirements of ruminants, during various production stages and on all types of grazing.

After the visit to Voermol Feeds, Duncan sent a message thanking us for the hospitality shown ‘to an old lady’ and for ‘making her year complete’ – Joan’s words. Both Joan and Peter Boyes will be remembered for their meaningful contribution to the establishment of Voermol Feeds. We express our heartfelt condolences to the family.

Mrs Joan Boyes (late) and her son, Duncan Boyes (right),
enjoying tea at Voermol’s Executive Office in Maidstone.

Mrs Joan Boyes (late) and her son, Duncan Boyes (left), in front of a picture of Joan’s late husband,
Mr Peter Boyes and the sausage machine.