Matriculant farms successfully with Boer goats

An early passion for farming can lead to a successful, profitable business for a teenager.

Hannes Conradie (18), a grade 12 learner at Hoërskool Martin Oosthuizen in Kakamas, has been farming and marketing Boer goats for the past five years. Hannes, the son of table grape farm manager Hanno and his high school teacher wife Lettie, started with his herd five years ago when he was still in grade 7 and 13 years old.

“I worked in a pack house during the December 2007 holiday to earn pocket money. I bought my first two ewes with that money,” said Hannes, who lives in Rooipad near the Augrabies Falls. Over the five years he only lost one batch of kids. “All my kids usually survive.”

Hannes said before deciding to start with Boer goats he considered farming with sheep. The Northern Cape’s arid climate is suited for expansive sheep farming. “After chatting to various people I decided that Boer goats are a better option as their kidding rates are so much higher,” he explained. After a big sale recently, he now only owns a ram and 10 ewes. He said his ewes kid three times every two years. “If their condition allows, the ewes each give up to three kids per season. They usually give twins.”

Hannes explained that he adjusts the feeding of the goats prior and during breeding season. “A month before and then during breeding season I feed the ewes 100g of maize per day. This enhances condition and fertility.” He said that it used to take about six months to get a kid ready for the market. “However, over the last two years I gave the kids extra feed to enhance their condition. This meant the kids were ready for the market within four months.”

There are no livestock market agents in Kakamas or Augrabies and the closest is just over 100km away. “I market my kids at Botha & Van der Walt in Upington,” Hannes said. He added that a goat gives between 15kg and 20kg of meat. Hannes plans on studying agriculture at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology’s Wellington campus next year. His school subjects include agricultural technology and agriculture management.

“My favourite subject is mathematical literacy.” Hannes plays in the school’s first rugby team and has done so for the past three years. As to the future of his Boer goat herd, he said: “Hendrik Dipetso has been working with me for a few years now. He will continue looking after the herd. My father also offered to help out while I’m not here.”