Learning from the Best

Vastrap Boran was very proud to be a part of the inaugural Boran Expo held on 13 March 2015 at Kroonboma. We had such a great time and really believe that this is a fantastic initiative set to become a highlight on the Boran calendar. Not only was it great to network and chat to other breeders in an informal and relaxed setting without the usual nerves and jitters brought on by an auction, but we also learned so much from the judging of the animals by Burnie Staal from Bos Blanco, who is a qualified cattle judge and a cattleman of huge experience and stature. The way he methodically assessed each animal on a set list of criteria was extremely enlightening and it just shows that there is always something new to learn. Some of the animals that we picked as our top three had weaknesses that we initially missed, while others like the cow who was eventually named Champion of the Yard, Jackie MHB 07-31, were significantly underrated by the general audience. Burnie has been a judge at the World Brahman Congress so he certainly knows a good animal when he sees one and we were honoured to have our animals judged by him.

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The day also brought unexpected success for Vastrap, with the winners in each category – best heifer, best young bull, best bull over 3 years old and best cow – all from our genetics! Groenland Borane, who were huge supporters of the 2014 Vastrap Auction, were well rewarded for their support by winning best older bull with Goliat MHB 06-47, best cow and Champion of the Yard with Jackie MHB 07-31 (Jackie MHB 05-06 x Khan MHB 04-27). We could not be prouder of this achievement especially since that Jackie was our personal pick of last year’s auction (see The Jackie Bloodline).

Jackie MHB 07-31 – Judged Best Cow and Champion of the Yard at the 2015 Boran Expo

Goliat MHB 06-47 – Judged Best Bull over 3 years old.

The happy team from Groenland Borane!

The happy team from Groenland Borane!

The winner of the best young bull was Jaguar VST 12-18 (Jackie MHB 05-08 x Co-Jack CI 08-30) who is definitely a rising star at Vastrap! His mother was one of the first cows that we bought for R500’000, a huge gamble that has certainly paid off many fold. The best heifer was Ginger TZ  13-05 (Ginger MHB 06-48 x Khan MHB 04-27) who is the result of an embryo that our neighbour Theo van Zyl (Faurzyl) bought from us. We are extremely proud that our young animals are doing so well!

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Jaguar VST 12-18 (Jackie MHB 05-08 x Co-Jack CI 08-30) – Judged Best Young Bull

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Ginger TZ 13-05 (Faurzyl) – Judged Best Heifer

What one learns very quickly in this game is that there is always something to learn and the best way to do so it to have as much input as possible from outsiders with fresh eyes. It is so easy to overlook mistakes, especially in animals that one has a soft spot for. We are so privileged to have two exceptional stockmen in Stompie Olivier (Hotspot) and Theo van Zyl (Faurzyl) who are part of the team we call in to help us every year with our cattle selection. Oom Theo certainly has a great eye because he picked Ginger TZ 13-05 as his best heifer and personally chose Jaguar VST 12-18 out of a group of 50 bulls as his favourite. He and Stompie have also had huge success in the animals they have bred and selected together, like HOT 13-01 (Bianca HOT 07-08 x Buffel TLM 02-01) who was judged the second best young bull by the breeders at the Expo. The heifer that was placed second, BUL 13-01 (Bullseye Borane), was also Hotspot genetics.

We feel truly blessed and the Expo could not have gone better for us personally. It’s great to know that we’re on the right track and we have renewed energy to keep on improving!

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Burnie Staal with Theo van Zyl from Faurzyl Borane.

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Honoured to be judged by Burnie Staal!

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Burnie Staal with Elrie and Stompie Olivier (Hotspot)

Busy, busy, Boran!

It’s been an incredibly busy two weeks here at Vastrap with non-stop cattle work on the go. We were notified very late that our 2013 heifers and 2012 bulls would be inspected by the Boran Society yesterday. Before animals can be inspected they need to be branded so Quentin took a full three days working 60 bulls and 100 heifers in heatwave conditions! On Friday, Gideon Botha came to do our inspections, which all went very well.

In the meantime, we had booked the vet to do pregnancy tests on all our stud animals, which took a whole morning. Fortunately, we have been blessed with a very good year and a conception rate of 94%, which is well above last year. Nothing has changed in our cattle management so it’s amazing to see how sensitive fertility can be to weather and grazing conditions.

Another morning was taken up by the annual evaluation and grading of our pregnant heifers and 3-year old bulls by our panel of independent breeders: Stompie Olivier, Theo van Zyl and Rikus Stander. They also helped us chose the animals we will take to the Boran Expo at Kroon Boma on 13 March. The selection process for the bulls that will be sold at the 2015 Vastrap Auction is now complete since all the performance testing was done last year. We are very excited to see which bulls make the final cut, with only 15-20 out of an original group of 50 going on sale.

In between all of this we’ve been visited by three different groups of breeders interested in seeing our animals. This is the part of cattle breeding that we love, meeting new people and sharing our passion for the Boran. We were particularly happy to meet CJ van Rhyn and Christo Germishuys of Luca Boran in Mpumalanga for the first time. They came to buy six pregnant 2012 heifers and left with a beautiful parcel of animals. The selection process was open and transparent. We took all of our 2012 heifers and sorted them into age groups and breeding lines. Quentin then removed ten of his favourite heifers that were not for sale. CJ and Christo then had the pick of the rest and in all honesty, there was very little separating the six that they finally chose and the ten that we kept. After spending some quality time with our herds and staying the night with us at Vastrap, they left very happy and satisfied customers.

One of the other visits, by Tinus Bessinger and Evan de Jager of Groenland Borane culminated in the sale of one of our stud sires, Goliat MHB 06-47. It was great to have them visit for two days so that they could thoroughly inspect Goliat’s offspring and the impact he has had on the Vastrap Boran herd. Farewell Goliat, we hope you will work very hard and make a big impression at your new home!

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Six stunning 2012 heifers chosen by Luca Borane.

Six stunning 2012 heifers chosen by Luca Borane.

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Ginger VST 12-31 (Ginger MHB 04-07 x Khan)

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Heading back to Mpumalanga!

Calf rescue!

This is the story of a little Boran bull calf who fell down an aardvark hole and was very lucky to be rescued by Quentin. We’re not sure if other Boran farmers have experienced this too, but we’ve had quite a few incidents of calves falling down holes that they couldn’t get out of, much more than with our other cattle. We have no idea why!

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On this particular day, Quentin went to visit a herd in one of the furthest camps on our farm. It was a beautiful clear afternoon, perfect for taking photos. When he got out the car he could hear an animal bellowing in the distance away from the main herd. He couldn’t see any animals so he ignored it at first, but when the sounds didn’t stop he went to investigate. Eventually he found a very deep aardvark hole in which a calf had got stuck. He had to pull with all his strength to get the calf out and then tried for half an hour to get it to stand. By then the whole herd, including the calf’s mother was crowding round. It was late afternoon so he couldn’t leave the calf in such a state because the jackals would surely get hold of it in the night. In fact, only a week earlier we had seen a jackal calling on the cliff above that camp in broad daylight!

He drove back to get some help and then loaded the calf onto the bakkie and chased the whole herd and their bull, Zed DLV 10-17, closer to home. The calf and its mother were put in a small camp next to our house, but it took a few hours the next morning to get it to stand again. Fortunately this story has a good ending and the calf is now looking much better and drinking greedily from its mother. But it’s scary to think that if Quentin hadn’t driven out to take photos that afternoon it could’ve all ended very differently. Please let us know if anyone else has had similar experiences with Boran calves.

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Daddy’s little cow girl!

Quentin had an opportunity to give our little almost-one-year-old Livia, a proper introduction to our Boran cows today. She’s often seen our herds from the safety of the bakkie and passed them on our daily walks, but today she got up close with her daddy. Boy did she love it! Some of our best cows were together for our annual IVF programme, which is a way to get more offspring from our top animals. We couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity for Livia to meet our herd matriarch Hope MHB 04-11 and her beautiful little heifer calf by our former stud sire Rustin MHB 06-30, who was sold earlier this year. If her shrieks were anything to go by, Livia thought it was all very impressive and entertaining, much to her daddy’s delight!

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Breeding season has begun!

The first rain of the season heralds the start of our cattle breeding season here in the Eastern Free State. After a good long rest over winter, our bulls have all been tested for fertility and STDs and now they are being put to work with the ladies. Here is group of young heifers, mainly from our previous herd sire Rustin MHB 06-30, who have been joined for the first time by one of our stunning young bulls, Zambuca VST 11-01 (Khan MHB 04-27 x Zelma). He is a very exciting prospect who is a strong contender to take over the role of herd sire at Vastrap. He is already on the job – any of you girls keen for a body slammer?!

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Fun at the 2014 Vastrap Auction!

Here are some photos of the 2014 Vastrap Auction this past Friday. We would really like to thank everyone from near and far who made the effort to be with us. Part of our love for the Boran is the amazing interactions we have had with fellow breeders, many of whom we now count as close friends. Hosting people in our home and on our farm is a crucial part of building these relationships. This year we were also very blessed to have our 7 month old daughter, Livia Lerato with us on auction day. She was fascinated by the animals and loved being passed around from one adoring auntie to another! Thank you to everyone who helped make this a special day. We look forward to doing it all again in 2015!

Please click HERE for more information about the top animal prices.

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Late afternoon contemplation.

Late afternoon contemplation.

Last animals being brought in.

Last animals being brought in.

Pre-auction dinner at Vastrap.

Pre-auction dinner at Vastrap.

Early morning refreshments.

Early morning refreshments.

Little Livia part of the action!

Little Livia de Bruyn part of the action!

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The pens.

The viewing pens.

Buyers looking around.

Buyers looking around.

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The auction ring.

The auction ring.

Lunch time!

Lunch time!

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Support crew!

The support crew!

Farewell Rustin!

We are proud to announce the sale of our primary stud sire, Rustin MHB 06-30 (Marula 25 x KPO 21) to Eloff Muller from Tambaraine Boran. Rustin has been the primary stud sire at Vastrap Boran for the past three years and has left an indelible mark on the herd with his great offspring. He is incredibly virile and has worked tirelessly! In our opinion, Rustin comes very close to being the perfect Boran bull. He has a great head, he is broad in the chest, and he has a perfect topline with well defined rib-eye muscles. He is well muscled with strong forearms and hocks. He weighs 780kg in good condition and has excellent capacity. To round things off he has a perfect sheath and an elegant tail which hangs to the ground. Most importantly he is virile and produces fantastic calves! Good bye our Rustin. We wish Eloff all the greatest success with this magnificent bull!

Rustin MHB 06-30 (Marula 25 x KPO 21)

Rustin MHB 06-30 (Marula 25 x KPO 21)

Rustin MHB 06-30 front view

Showing off his head, broad chest and muscular back (2014).

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Showing off his broad back and rib-eye muscling.

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In 2010 as a young bull with a bright future.