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.