The Beefmaster tour in March this year was aimed at giving participants the opportunity to examine quality stud cattle and to exchange information, ideas and advice with regard to breeding practices. Pierre Hart, a Beefmaster breeder from the Eastern Cape, accompanied the tour and reports.
The recent BEEFMASTER tour, from 10 March to 13 March 2009, included visits to some of the foremost Free State breeders. It was organised by the Beefmaster Cattle Breeders’ Society to give participants the opportunity to examine other breeders’ stud cattle and exchange ideas and information about one another’s breeding practices.
The large group of participants were put up for the night by Philip Henning, Dan Burnett, Arthur Gilbert, Mann Oelrich and Geoff Johnson, as well as at the first stud they visited – the Westminster Estate Beefmaster stud belonging to Rupert and Anne Fitzmaurice.
The next morning the group went to Ottershaw Beefmasters owned by Arthur Gilbert and Dan Burnett, who have several promising bulls and an overall impressive herd. The group then returned to Westminster Estate to view the Fitzmaurices’ top-class cattle before moving on to Quardsen Beefmasters, owned by Kobus and Riana Gildenhuys.
On their arrival they received brochures which gave a complete overview of the Quardsen farming enterprise and were able to see the cattle, which were in small camps around the yard. Participants inspected the stock, including the bulls for the production sale. The last visit for the day was to Human Beefmasters owned by Piet and Marika Human, where the group was taken off to different camps where cows were grouped according to age.
Piet emphasises two aspects at his enterprise – veld bulls and record-keeping. He’s proud of the various awards he’s received for his high standard of administration.
The visitors retired for the night to enjoy brothers Dennis and Burnie Staal’s hospitality at the Bos Blanco Stud. The next morning they were shown a group of magnificent heifers, then even more impressive cows and calves which sparked envy and marvel amongst participants, prompting several to comment they still had a lot to learn and a long way to go. However, the brothers have been breeding with this breed for a long time, resulting in top-quality herds.
The next stop was at Louca Beefmasters, owned by Louis Kleynhans. Louis, a relatively new breeder, has bought in top genetics and judging by his calves he’s right on track. Next, the participants were welcomed to the Veld Bull Club by Martin Tromp, who briefed them on how a veld bull operation is run. Bulls are reared on veld with a production lick until the age of about 20 months old and then prepared for the Veld Bull Club Sale in Vrede. Only bulls passing the test and branded with the club’s brand are presented for sale. The others are slaughtered.
It was noted how uniform the Beefmaster bulls were, although they came from many breeders. Various other breeds also participate in the club, but predominantly the Beefmaster. The group then headed for Môreson Ranch where Dr Hannes Dreyer gave a detailed lecture on the scientific data that’s come out of the club and was being used to determine parameters. A tour wouldn’t be a tour without a dinkskrum and various ideas about the Beefmaster breed were thrashed out.
On Friday morning, the group headed for WO Beefmasters owned by the Odendaal brothers Willem, Cloete and Francois. Here the group was once again awed by the quality of the animals. Dedication and the desire to challenge the status quo has put WO Beefmasters on the map. It was very interesting for the group to hear about Willem’s challenging and innovative new ideas to get the best from his cattle.
Next up was Elmic Beefmasters owned by Mike Nicolau, where participants were introduced to Piet, Mike’s right-hand man and his horse Spot, who has a particular party trick – hopping on to a bakkie (without railings) as if he were a dog! The group saw some good hardy cattle there and Mike explained that he wants his cattle to be able to walk distances and have a high libido.
A very sincere thanks goes to Cloete Odendaal, Free State Beefmaster Club chairperson and Beefmaster breeder, and Helga Prinsloo, who manages the office of the Beefmaster Cattle Breeders’ Society, as well as their assistants for organising such an interesting tour.Thanks also goes to all the hosts for the friendly hospitality and catering. All 82 participants say they have returned home with a renewed vigour and motivation to apply what they’ve learnt.
Upcoming tour invitation
The Beefmaster Society extends an invitation to farmers to join it in early 2010 on a tour of the North West province to see if breeders there can match or even surpass what was experienced in the Free State.
Contact Helga Prinsloo on tel/fax 086 111 3144.