At Nature’s Mercy

Like many other parts of the country, Vastrap has been affected by a severe drought this year. By last week the veld was looking very desert-like with no roughage or green shoots for the animals. Things were so bad that we started grazing animals in the road and calling in favours to get extra feed bales from the Cape. Worse than that, most of our earth dams had run dry. In the 16 years on the farm, I cannot remember it ever looking worse. Thankfully, a huge storm rolled through our district on Friday providing massive relief. It will take a week or two for the veld to rejuvenate, but at least there is some water in our dams now.

We were starting to get very worried about the impact of the drought on our annual embryo programme in December given the importance of environmental factors for fertility. Embryo flushing still forms an important part of Vastrap Boran’s breeding strategy. We flush only our best (5-7%) animals and only once a year. Hopefully, the rain has come just in time to salvage this year’s programme.

Flushing enables us to multiply our best genetics, thereby systematically improving our herd more rapidly than natural breeding. It also enables us to test different combinations of cows and bulls and to introduce new bull genetics with bought semen. Although there is some experimentation, 80% of the combinations we use in flushes are ones that have already proven themselves. Below are photos of some of the stunning cows we will be flushing next month.

The approaching storm.
Depleted grazing.
Day1 (Skaapdip)
Refilled dam after the rain.
BOS 11-167
BOS 11-167 – a Caesar daughter which I bought from Burnie Staal at the 2014 Showcase Auction, out of the stunning white cow, TLM 03-17.
Savanna MHB 09-13
Savanna MHB 09-13 – a Voorslag daughter out of one of Mollshoop’s matriarch cows, Savanna TLM 00-03 (95-03).  Her sister Savanna MHB 07-16 (Khan) was sold for R130’000 at the 2014 Vastrap Auction.
Savanna MHB 11-57 and her calf.
Savanna MHB 11-57 and her calf. She is a Rustin daughter out of Savanna TLM 07-16 (Khan). One of my most promising 2011 cows. The heifer is by Zed DLV 10-17 (B 04-01).
Jackie MHB 10-07 and calf.
Jackie MHB 10-07 and calf. She is a Voorslag daughter from the Jackie MHB 05-08. Rustin has worked wonders on this combination. I am particularly excited about her current heifer calf (above).
Jackie MHB 09-22 (8)
Jackie MHB 09-22 is certainly one of the stand-out cows currently at Vastrap.  She is a Khan MHB 04-27 daughter and has amazing depth, a stunning feminine wedge and enormous capacity. She is on offer at the 2016 Vastrap Auction.
Jackie MHB 09-22 calf.
Wow, wow, wow – a really stunning heifer from Husky MHB 07-09 out of Jackie MHB 09-22. It would be silly not to flush her with Husky – just look at this result!!
Kelly MHB 09-33
Kelly MHB 09-33 – a natural Voorslag daughter out of the famous Mollshoop matriarch Kelly MHB 04-24 which was sold for R200’000 to B Hurwitz farming at the 2013 Vastrap Auction. The heifer with her is by Griffen MHB 06-24. The Kelly motherline consistently breeds top class animals.
Kelly VST 12-100
Kelly VST 12-100.  One of only two first time callers that I have decided to flush.  She is another natural daughter from the famous Mollshoop matriarch Kelly MHB 04-24, by Goliat. She was in the ring with her mother at the time of the auction and without a doubt my best 2012 heifer.  She is being mated to HVT 95-03.
Kelly MHB 09-33
Kelly MHB 09-33 (Kelly MHB 04-24 x Voorslag TLM 02-03)
EM 11-127
Bella EM 11-127 – one of my better purchases. She goes back to 1383 & 494 on her motherline and 2738 on the sire side. I am very excited to try Husky, Celsius or Gunner on her. She has one of those fall-in-love temperaments.

4 thoughts on “At Nature’s Mercy

  1. Wishing you the very best as you traverse this rain season which certainly will not be so rainy and hoping your bulling and breeding season gets right! We seem to be similarly affected in a Zambia.You magnificent cattle always inspire me to keep on improving my boran herd and I hope to acquire some of your genetics in future.

    1. Thank you so much Chimuka. Great to hear from you. Our animals have weathered the drought relatively well but we really hope things get better from here. All the best for your season too. Come and visit us soon!

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