The great Droughtmaster debate

I blame the past few difficult weeks in my life on Johan van der Nest and his passion for the Droughtmaster breed… Oops! I’m not allowed to say that. Sorry, I’ll start again…

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Johan van der Nest and his passion for the Droughtmaster cattle. Jong, die manne was kwaad vir my. And all because I dared to refer to the Droughtmasters in South Africa as a cattle breed and not just cattle – despite the fact that I made it abundantly clear in my Droughtmaster article that the breed is not yet registered in South Africa, but it is a registered breed in Australia!

Ag toggie, wat ‘n deurmekaarspul! Our local Beefmaster breeders claim the Droughtmaster is in fact the Australian Beefmaster, while the Australians vehemently deny it.

Says Droughtmaster Australia CEO Neil Donaldson: “Droughtmasters are not Beefmasters and we are not affiliated with any Beefmaster Breed Association anywhere in the world. This claim is absolutely incorrect and we object in the strongest possible fashion to any claims made along these lines.”

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This follows a local Beefmaster Breeders Society media statement to Farmer’s Weekly in which the Droughtmasters are referred to as ‘the Australian Beefmaster’.

Ja right, it’s confusing. But is it really necessary? I can’t help but wonder why the article solicited so much reaction. If we work on the premise that the Droughtmaster is not an Australian Beefmaster, don’t you think the local response was a bit premature?

Beef cattle producers in SA operate in a free market system, driven by supply and demand. It remains the buyer’s prerogative to buy whatever breed or cattle they prefer, registered or not. And nobody claimed, as far as I know, that the Droughtmaster is in fact registered in SA.

Ag nee man, broeders, let’s not be so pedantic. Surely there must be a more amicable way to tackle the matter!

I do agree, though, that the importation of any animal genetics must be controlled and managed strictly in order to preserve the integrity of our national herd.

Any intended importation of ‘Droughtmasters’ has to be submitted to the Beefmaster Society for approval and a recommendation to the Registrar of Animal Improvement, according to the Beefmaster media statement. In an ideal world, this could have worked perfectly but, alas, given the realities of the matter, I don’t think it did. Sad, indeed.

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.