South Africa’s commercial and stud beef cattle breeders have so far donated more than 300 heifers to the Afrikaner Cattle Breeders’ Society of South Africa’s Sponsor a Heifer initiative in aid of the victims of the devastating wildfires in the western Free State.
Werner Boshoff, coordinator of the project, said the heifers would be distributed to the affected farmers as soon as the veld had recuperated well enough after the first rainfall in the area.
The allocation and distribution of the donated animals would be managed by the Afrikaner breeders’ society, he said.
“However, other breeders’ societies and commercial breeders have pledged animals too, and we challenge all livestock breeders’ societies across the country to follow our example, and support the farmers who have lost everything to the flames.”
The Braunvieh Cattle Breeders’ Society of South Africa meanwhile also pledged a number of heifers to the project. Fanie Els, vice president of the society, said it was too early to say exactly how many, because the society was still waiting for confirmation of the final numbers.
Thousands of hectares of farmland in the districts of Hoopstad, Bultfontein and Hertzogville were destroyed in the inferno.
As beef cattle and sheep farming formed an integral part of the area’s economic activity, Boshof called for donations of sheep and Boer goat breeding animals as well. This had so far resulted in a fair number of sheep breeders pledging animals to the project.
“There are a number of farmers in the fire-stricken areas who have lost all the livestock they owned. They have actually lost everything they owned and have to start over from scratch. They need all the support they can get,” he stressed.
Gys Olivier, chairperson of Agri Hertzogville, said initiatives such as the Sponsor a Heifer project was invaluable in getting the famers back on their feet. He said the outpouring of support, generosity and kindness following the tragedy would go a long way to diminish its enormity.
“The emotional value of the support flooding into the area is priceless. It keeps us standing and gives us the courage to carry on.”
The South African Braford Breeders Society has also confirmed its participation in the Sponsor a Heifer project.
Those interested in donating livestock to the Sponsor a Heifer initiative, can email the Afrikaner Cattle Breeders’ Society of South Africa at [email protected].