SA beef cattle ranchers up there with the world’s best

Jong, Ouboet, I’m telling you South Africa’s commercial cattle farmers really are world-class.

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I’ve been working with local cattle farmers, and beef cattle ranchers in particular, for the best part of three decades. That qualifies me to make the statement that they are on a par with the best in the world.

Let’s take the Bonsmara breed, for example. Some 50 years ago, Prof Jan Bonsma and his team of animal scientists started developing the breed by cross breeding Afrikaner, Hereford and Shorthorn cattle.

The Bonsmara is the only breed in the world that ensued from a well-documented breeding programme supported by detailed performance recording from the onset.

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Well, Boeta, Prof Jan’s motto ‘Man must measure’ has become the cornerstone of cattle livestock breeding – not only in South Africa, but globally as well. And the Bonsmara has to a large extent become the benchmark for beef cattle breeding in Southern Africa.

But what impressed me tremendously at the recent Bonsmara Red Event, where we commemorated the 50th birthday of the breed, was the breeders’ lack of complacency.

For instance, stud breeder Arthur de Villiers acknowledged the fact that more attention needed to be given to the breed’s coat quality and that estimated breeding values must be applied to check for tick resistance.

Not for a moment did he give the impression that the breed has ‘arrived’ and there is no more work to be done.

And that, in my book, is what makes Bonsmara breeders an exceptional group. That and their overriding passion for their ‘rooi beeste’!

Ouboet, seldom have I come across a more zealous, I nearly said ‘obsessive’, bunch. And that includes the Namibian Bonsmara breeders as well.

Bonsmaras can nowadays be found in Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and even the US and Australia. Bonsmara breeders fall under the auspices of the World Federation of Bonsmara Breeders. Our own Charl Uys is the current president, mind you!

Boeta, let me tell you one thing – our locally developed and finely honed Bonsmaras revolutionised beef cattle breeding in Southern Africa.

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Annelie Coleman represents Farmer’s Weekly in the Free State, North West and Northern Cape. Agriculture is in her blood. She grew up on a maize farm in the Wesselsbron district where her brother is still continuing with the family business. Annelie is passionate about the area she works in and calls it ‘God’s own country’. She’s particularly interested in beef cattle farming, especially with the indigenous African breeds. She’s an avid reader and owns a comprehensive collection of Africana covering hunting in colonial Africa, missionary history of same period, as well as Rhodesian literature.