Tough times need tougher cattle

Sponsored by Bonsmara SA

Cattle farmers in Southern Africa have had a difficult year, with ongoing drought and foot-and-mouth disease outbreaks. Louis Steyl, CEO of the Bonsmara Cattle Breeders’ Society of South Africa, says that the Bonsmara, with its adaptability and high functional efficiency, has proved itself the ideal breed to cope with, and thrive in, these challenging conditions.

Tough times need tougher cattle
Bosmara cattle grow well in extensive as well as intensive environments.
Photo: FW Archive
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This year will be remembered by many in Southern Africa as an extremely demanding year for the livestock industry.

It started off with the perfect storm: an ongoing drought, a struggling economy, and an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD). By the end of the year, some areas of the region had received marginal rainfall, while most of the western and southern parts were still experiencing one of the worst and most long-lived droughts in recorded history.

As if this were not enough, early November saw another outbreak of FMD in Limpopo, which has put the entire livestock industry at a crossroads.

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With challenges as extreme as these, choosing the right cattle breed for production and breeding has never been more crucial.

Functionality efficient and fertility
The Bonsmara, bred for Africa’s harshest conditions, has shown that it can adapt to the changing climate, reduced rainfall and warmer temperatures.

Just one example: Namibian Bonsmara breeder Heidi Oestlund of Helko Bonsmaras is still achieving a 100% conception rate with her cows, while Namibia has had close to zero rainfall! This is testament to the remarkable functional efficiency of the breed.

The Bonsmara cow is medium-framed, calves easily, is functionally efficient and low-maintenance, and is capable of walking long distances to find grazing. The breed also grows excellently in both extensive and intensive environments, making it sought after for the feedlot.

Bonsmara carcasses ensures profitability for everyone in the value chain.

Award winners
At the SA Studbook Elite Awards presented at ALFA 2019, the domination of Bonsmara breeders spoke for itself.

Nick Serfontein of the Sernick Group, who runs a Bonsmara stud in the Free State, received the Agricultural Writers SA’s award as 2019 Farmer of the Year, while Bonsmara breeder Tian Kruger of Tian Kruger Boerdery in Limpopo won Voermol’s Cattle Farmer of the Year award.

Bonsmara is the breed of choice of many leading farmers in the industry, and has proven itself a winner time and again under the most demanding conditions.

Email the Bonsmara Cattle Breeders’ Society of South Africa at [email protected] or visit