The grass is such a magnificent green this time of year and we are truly blessed with all the rain we had. The drought of 2016 isn’t far out of our minds and as we were driving around on the farm yesterday (we weren’t too adventurous because we know it can get us in a sticky situation.) Eugene was constantly saying, this pasture can rest until October and this Pasture can rest till January 2020. We have come such a long way and we have learned so much in this uncharted territory. With the heavy rain forecast or this week we won’t be driving anywhere!
I also wandered what other farmers around here do all day and this made me wonder if people actually understand what we do?
What do we do?
Easy, we farm cattle. To be more specific, we have a Bonsmara stud. But what do we do?
I got the definition exact definition of husbandry in the Oxford dictionary “The care, cultivation, and breeding of crops or animals. Management and conservation of resources.
In a nutshell, that is exactly what we do. Care, breed and conserve.
But when opening this can of worms there is so many facets to it. One thing we are very passionate about is bettering beef production, because let’s face it… even us farmers need to survive economically and this means earning an income. Income is generated by the selling of slaughter animals, replacement females and stud bulls.
Although we are in Mozambique we still adhere to all the rules and regulations set by Bonsmara SA and SA Studbook. It goes for all the animals in the registered herds. They are subjected to performance testing and need to comply with the Bonsmara fertility criteria. The one’s that doesn’t make the cut are slaughtered. If they don’t perform as a stud animal, there isn’t a place for them in the commercial herd.
This morning we weighed young bulls for their growth test and this made me think about the importance of weighing and measuring and knowing. While we were weighing Wessel said, this isn’t Bush-bulls. Funny story, when Wessel was smaller he was so scared at Bush-bulls. He had absolutely no idea what a Bush-bull was but it freaked him out. It was all our talk about Bush-bulls vs B-branded bulls.
What is a B-Branded bulls?
The B-brand is a mark of quality. A B-Branded bull is a Bonsmara bull that was subject to growth test. Throughout its whole life the animal was measured (weighed). Bonsmara has a minimum breed standard and the one’s that didn’t comply with this at weaning age cannot continue. They are usually castrated or in SA sold to a feedlot. The one’s that do continue needs to go through either a growth test in a feedlot situation, called a Phase D test or as we do it a Phase B test where we monitor and measure their growth on the natural pasture without any extra feed. 100% grass-fed. The animals that comply with all the standards are then inspected by senior Bonsmara inspectors to see if they are functional efficient, meaning, if they look like a Bonsmara bull should!
A Bush-bull on the other hand is a nice looking calf from your own herd or from a neighbor or any other farmers herd that you buy for a cheap price (shockingly not so much cheaper than our bulls) and use it in your herd.
Here is the problem with this:
You don’t know anything about this animal’s hereditability. Its mother, grandmother and sisters’ fertility breeding value is unknown to you. When you are lucky the farmer might give you a weaning weight but a weight alone doesn’t say anything. This animal might also cause a number of other problems like calving problems. But even worse:
An Australian farmer, Steven Farmer said: “You might spend one day a year buying bulls, but you could live with the consequences of those decisions or the next 15 years.”
15 years is a very long time to pay for a wrong decision. A cow has 1 calf a year, but 1 bull up to 40…. So, is it wise to buy something you don’t know anything about? Or to use that calf that looks nice? We can’t afford to make a mistake like that.
Day to day
Our day to day work consist of taking care of all the animals and monitoring their growth.