The council of the Brahman Cattle Breeders’ Society of South Africa has condemned the actions of a small group of Brahman stud breeders, who allegedly altered the birthdates of some of their cattle to give them an unfair advantage in the show ring.
Sydney Hunt, the council’s president, told Farmer’s Weekly that while the council had originally been notified of one Brahman stud breeder allegedly employing this practice, a subsequent internal investigation had found that “a limited number” of others were allegedly doing the same thing.
“An affected animal would compete unfairly in a younger age group. Manipulation of birthdates [is] considered unacceptable and unbecoming of a stud breeder, and measures were implemented to prevent this from happening [again],” Hunt said.
He added that while legitimate administrative errors did occur at times when the birthdates of Brahman stud animals were recorded with the society, more stringent processes and oversight were now being implemented to prevent the system from being abused again.
These included that applications to amend birthdates be submitted to the society in writing by the relevant Brahman stud breeder; that only the society’s breed improvement section and officials could change an animal’s birthdate once they were satisfied that there were legitimate grounds to do so; and that the society would be implementing the model used in the US from 2020.
“The US model essentially disqualifies animals from competing in a particular age group if [it] falls outside the criteria based on weight and height,” he added.
Japie van der Westhuizen, general manager of SA Stud Book and the Animal Improvement Association, said accurate recording of a potential breeding animal’s birthdate was also crucial for predicting its genetic merit.
“A very small adjustment in something [considered by some to be] as trivial as a birthdate will give a wrong genetic merit prediction.
“Selection of an animal as an influential parent based on false information can have a large impact depending on the number of progeny from such an animal.
“One aspect of the livestock industry, namely showing, should not have a negative impact on sound recording principles,” Van der Westhuizen said.
He added that any Brahman stud breeder found guilty of unscrupulously manipulating
the birthdate of his or her animals could face expulsion from the Brahman society.