Boran Basterkrag: Veeplaas, February 2020

Boran Basterkrag: Veeplaas, February 2020

Unfortunately this article is only available in Afrikaans. The article outlines the history of the Vastrap Boran stud, our auction philosophy and our Boran/Angus cross-breeding strategy. For more information please see Boran x Angus cross yields results and The Commercial future of the Boran: Cross-breeding.

Screenshot 2020-02-09 at 12.42.53Screenshot 2020-02-09 at 12.43.03Screenshot 2020-02-09 at 12.42.17

Cattle branding tips

Quentin made this video on how to brand cattle neatly and efficiently. This is something that can be very hard to do if you don’t have the right equipment and good technique.

Cattle branding is the primary means by which animals are identified in South Africa and it is compulsory by law to brand all cattle.

The tool used to calm the animals is called an immobiliser and it sends an electric pulse into the animal’s rectum. The one we use is from Rau Easy Farming –> http://raueasy.com/animal-immobilizer-south-africa/ . Watch until the end of the video for a full explanation of how it works.

The branding irons and gas stove are from Taltec. http://www.taltec.co.za/cattle.html#cattle-equipment-hero-pic .

Boran x Angus Cross Yields Results!

Boran x Angus Cross Yields Results!

Author: Quentin de Bruyn

The results of the Beef Genomics Program (BGP) which showed that the Boran breed is genetically far removed from the other breeds in South Africa is strong evidence to support the use Boran bulls to maximise beef production in commercial cross-bred cattle. The impressive results Vastrap Boran has achieved using the Boran in its commercial cross-breeding herd (with Angus) further demonstrates the strong hybrid vigour pure bred Boran bring to the table.

Boran genetics

In 2019, the Vastrap commercial F1 Boran/Angus herd which were bred back to Angus stud bulls recorded the best ever cow:calf wean ratios on the farm. The group yielded an average cow:calf wean ratio of 53% for females (with every single female calf exceeding 48%) and 57% for the male calves, with only one calf below the 48% level.

Cross-breeding Strategy

The advantages of cross-breeding are well documented and can have a big impact on your net return. Heterosis (hybrid vigor) and using breeds that are complementary (have different strength) can have many advantages. Data released by the USDA demonstrates the benefits of cross-breeding across a range of indicators: 6% higher calving; 4% higher calf survival, 8% increase in efficiency; 38% increase in longevity; and 23% increase in lifetime productivity (USDA Cattle Inventory Report, January 2012).

The Boran and the Angus breeds complement each other very well. The Boran has all the strengths we have come to know and love such as hardiness, ability to fatten off the veld, ability to maintain body condition in harsh environments, resistance to diseases, longevity and higher stocking levels, while the Angus is well known for its meat quality, weaning weight, growth rate and is highly sought after by feedlots.

At Vastrap we follow a simple ongoing two-way cross strategy. In the first stage a Boran bull is put on Angus cows. The F1 heifers (50/50) from this combination are put back to Angus bulls to produce a (75/25) Angus/Boran offspring. The retained females from this combination are bred back to Boran bulls, which in turn yields (62.5/37.5) Boran/Angus to be bred back to Angus bulls and so forth.

The importance of measurement

Measurement is critical to the improvement of any cattle herd as it helps to identify the best and worst animals each year. Vastrap monitors and measures its commercial herds in the same way as its stud herds. Animals are kept in same-age groups, all cattle are tagged, birth records are kept, all calves and cows are weighed at weaning. This enables one to make informed decisions about which cattle to cull and even more importantly, which heifers to keep as replacement stock based on their own wean indexes, their wean weight as a percentage of their mother’s weight and the mother’s ICP and historical weaning indexes.

Impressive weaning results

The table below shows the average wean ratios for male and female calves from the Vastrap F1 Boran/Angus cows cross bred back to Angus bulls in 2019. These are the best ever wean results in any Vastrap herd in 20 years of record keeping!

Historically, in the extensive farming conditions at Vastrap, females weaning at more than 45% of the mother’s body weight and males at more than 48% have been considered excellent. Cows that produce these results are marked as A-grade for that breeding season. This group of Boran/Angus cross-bred animals far outperformed this benchmark with an average cow:calf ratio of 53% for females (with every single female calf exceeding 48%!) and 57% for the male calves with only one calf below the 48% level.

Weaning Averages: F1 (50/50) cow with Angus/Boran calf (75/25)
Female Male
Weaning Age 216.5 days 211.9 days
Live Weight 252.5kg 279.1kg
Adjusted weight (210 days) 246.8kg 278.1kg
Cow:Calf ratio 53% 57%

F1 COWS – WEANING DATA

F1 COWS - WEANING DATA

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2018 Vastrap Auction: Results

We would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who travelled from near and far to support the 2018 Vastrap Auction. Congratulations to all the buyers! We had the biggest turnout ever this year with visitors from all over South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe. We were blessed with a beautiful day and everyone seemed to enjoy the personal home-style atmosphere we aim to create. The dinner on the evening before the auction is always a highlight for us as it provides an opportunity to host people in our home and socialise in a relaxed manner before the craziness of auction day.

Summary of Auction Stats:

Average price of Bulls: R44’000 (highest price R100’000)

Average price of Females: R49’500 (highest price R140’000) – 100% of females offered were sold.

Boran cattle are our passion and the Boran community have enriched our lives in ways we never thought possible. Thank you for your support and we look forward to doing it all again next year!

VST 15-74

VST 15-74 sold for R100’000 to Sfiso Shezi

VST 15-70

VST 15-70 sold for R85’000 to Theron Familie Trust

VST 15-124

VST 15-124 sold for R65’000 to Gert Oosthuisen

Latika - PRB16 21 copy

Latika PRB 16-21 sold for R140’000 to Quentin de Bruyn (Vastrap Boran)

Britney - PRB 16 12 copy

Britney PRB sold for R100’000 to Stephen Johnson (Frontier Boran)

VST 15-73

Jackie VST 15-73 sold for R90’000 to Conrad Hollenbach

VST 15-136

Jackie VST 15-136 sold for R80’000 to Sfiso Shezi

VST 15-59

Annabelle VST 15-59 sold for R75’000 to Keith Peinke (Peinke Ranch)

Jackie MHB 05-08 – Tribute to a Herd Matriarch

Jackie MHB 05-08 – Tribute to a Herd Matriarch

It is with a heavy heart and great sadness that I report that Jackie MHB 05-08 was stuck and killed by lightening last night. Jackie has had such a huge impact at Vastrap and her story reflects the journey that I have walked with the Boran.

Jackie MHB 05-08 (K6K 2228 x KPO 786)

It’s probably hard for new Boran breeders to really appreciate the hype and excitement of the heady early days of the establishment of the Boran breed in South Africa. Some of the stories that I’ve heard are stranger than fiction. Because of Jackie MHB 05-08, I have my own story to tell and I would like to share it with you as a tribute to the exceptional herd matriarch that she was.

Shortly after I purchased my first Boran bull at the 2010 National Boran auction, Stompie Olivier and I set off to Kenya in September 2010 to find out first hand about the Boran. I wanted to make sure that the hype of the breed had a concrete basis and wanted to see these animals in their original landscape and learn from the pioneers of the Boran breed in Kenya. We visited and were generously hosted by Giles Prettejohn (Ol Pejeta), Colin Tomlinson (Solio), Jackie Kenyan (Mogwooni), Sean Outram (Sosian) and the late Gilfrid Powys (Suyian, previously Kisima). I can honestly say it was one of the best trips of my life, combining travel, holiday, business, people and cattle in almost perfect balance in the most stunning setting. Marisa and I retraced my steps 5 months later on our honeymoon, which should say it all!

Upon our return, Stompie generously helped me with my first ever flush, with the Vastrap foundation cow, Eve TLM 02-43. This was in November 2010. Unfortunately, she only gave me 3 embryos so I had to buy another 8 embryos at a cost of R7’500 each and still didn’t have enough for my receivers. These embryos cost me R60’000. Our next flush was scheduled for February 2011, but I quickly decided I needed another foundation dam that flushed well in order to make the sums work.

I asked Adriaan Rall to help me find another cow as he had done with the stunning Eve TLM 02-43. He suggested I contact Jacques Moll in Ficksburg. I asked Stompie to go with me to select a suitable animal. Although Stompie had seen Jacques’ animals before, we were blown away by the quality and beauty of the Mollshoop herd. Jacques was a very reluctant seller though and didn’t want to part with any of his top heifers for R100’000.

We came back empty handed. I kept phoning Jacques every few days to ask him to reconsider and asked Adriaan to put in a good word for me. After about two weeks, Jacques came back with the following offer – for R500’000, I could pick any of his cows. What?? – R500’000!!! I was not sure I had heard right. He actually apologized profusely because even to him it sounded like a crazy price, but he honestly thought his top animal and genetics were worth that much. As you might imagine, I was blown away and very disappointed because at that price, I wasn’t going to be able to acquire a single Mollshoop animal.

Back at home, I was restless and agonized over my fate. The positivity of the Kenya trip and the exhilaration and disappointment of my first flush and newfound enthusiasm for the breed had me in twists and turns. I consulted many people, started doing calculations and extrapolations and slowly convinced myself there might be a possibility.

My sums were eventually something like this:

  1. Top cow in the country R250’000
  2. Heifer from top cow – R100’000 (in two years time)
  3. 40 embryos per annum (2 flushes per annum)– R300’000

Put that way, the deal didn’t seem that unrealistic, although comprehensive insurance for a R500’000 cow cost an extra R50’000! I just had one more hurdle to clear. Being very new to stud breeding and new to the Boran breed, I needed a knowledgeable partner particularly to help with decisions around flushing. I asked Stompie if he would consider being a 20% partner so that he could help with the selection of the best animal in the Mollshoop herd and help to maximize the return on my investment with his incredible eye for cattle, technical expertise, and great marketing ability. Fortunately, he agreed and we were in business.

We set a date and went to make our selection. What a tough choice! There were so many top cows to choose from, like Hope MHB 04-11, Kelly MHB 04-24, Cindy MHB 04-06, Jackie MHB 05-08, Jackie MHB 05-06, Ginger MHB 06-48, Ginger MHB 06-46 or Savanna TLM 00-03. Stompie and I eventually decided on Jackie MHB 05-08. Physically there was very little separating the top cows and one could argue this way or that. They all bred very well. In the end we chose Jackie MHB 05-08: she had incredible capacity, a deep feminine wedge and to top it off she was polled and had an excellent flushing record of 13 embryos as an open heifer and 40 on her first flush thereafter. She was also on the point of calving so she would fit into our February 2011 flush date. The deal was done, or so we thought.

Unfortunately, when Jacques had the pregnancy confirmed, she was not going to calf in December, but only in February. This meant that we wouldn’t be able to flush her in February. This almost scuppered the whole deal until we reached an agreement to include two of her daughters in our February flush as compensation for this set-back.

The two years that followed the acquisition of Jackie MHB 05-08 can only be described as beginners luck and a dream come true. The two top quality daughters that we flushed instead of her – Jackie MHB 07-32 (flushed with Khan MHB 04-27) and Jackie MHB 08-08 (flushed with B 04-42) – did extremely well with each giving 16 embryos. At the time top quality embryos were going for R7’500 each, so this was worth R240’000 to us. It was also a golden opportunity to get slightly different genetics into our herd.

Jackie 07-32

Jackie MHB 08-08

On 26 February 2011, Jackie MHB 05-08 gave birth to a bull calf and we flushed her for the first time in July 2011. Picking the perfect match for our new herd matriarch was a process in itself. We visited several farms to look at bulls like Kaptein of Johannes Norval, Mr Million of Stephen Johnson, but eventually decided on Co-Jack CI 08-30 of Circle C. We bought 6 straws on auction at R6’000 per straw. At the same sale Circle C sold a total of 20 straws of Co-Jack semen for R120’000!

After all this we were over the moon when Jackie MHB 05-08 gave us 27 embryos using only 3 of our expensive Co-Jack straws. Two months later in September, we used the other 3 straws and she gave us 21 embryos and two months after that in December, she gave us 20 embryos with Rustin MHB 06-30. This was an incredible outcome beyond our wildest expectations: 68 embryos in her first year in addition to the 32 from her two daughters making it 100 embryos in total for the deal. At R5’000 per embryo, a conservative estimate at the time, we had almost a 100% return on our investment in the first year! We then got Jackie pregnant. She calved in October 2012 and was flushed 4 times in 2013 giving an incredible 99 embryos including 40 in one flush!!

Jackie MHB 05-08 was an embryo-producing machine. She gave us 200 embryos in 9 flushes at an average of 22 embryos per flush. Her greatest value, however, was the consistent quality of her offspring from several different sires.

  • Her full sister Jackie MHB 05-36 was sold for R270’000 at the 2013 Boran Nationals (the top priced female),
  • Her daughter Jackie MHB 08-08 was sold for R150’000 at the same National Auction.
  • Her second daughter Jackie MHB 07-32 was the top priced female at the 2014 Vastrap auction where she sold for R140’000.
  • Two of her daughters were sold for R65’000 each at the 2012 Showcase auction.
  • At the first Vastrap auction an open heifer sired by Co-Jack was sold for R110’000.

The quality of her male offspring was also impressive. She produced Jaguar VST 12-18, which was judged the best young bull at the 2015 Boran Expo and is currently one of the top Vastrap stud sires. His full brother Jester VST 12-20 was sold for R80’000 at the 2015 Vastrap Auction. Another full brother VST 12-06 has done extremely well for Keith Peinke and was the Peinke Ranch main stud sire from 2015 to earlier this year.

While it is very sad to have lost Jackie MHB 05-08, her offspring will continue to have a huge impact on the Vastrap herd. At the start of this year I included one direct daughter Jackie VST 12-04 (Co-Jack) and two granddaughters, namely Jackie VST 12-40 (Jackie MHB 07-32 x Khan MHB 04-27) and Jackie VST 11-33 (Jackie MHB 08-08 x B 04-42) in my annual flush. I only flush 5-8 cows a year so this really shows their quality.

Farewell Jackie, you will be sorely missed here at Vastrap. You have been with us since the very beginning and you helped to put us on the map as breeders of substance. You have left an indelible mark on the Vastrap herd and your spirit will live on through your sons and daughters who will continue to fly the Jackie flag high. May you rest in peace in lush green pastures.

Jackie VST 11-10 (Jackie 07-32 x Khan MHB 04-27)

Jackie HOT 11-14 (Jackie 07-32 x Khan MHB 04-27)

Jackie VST 12-04 (Jackie 05-08 x Co-Jack CI 08-30)

Jackie VST 12-40 (Jackie 07-32 x Khan MHB 04-27)

Jackie VST 12-44 (Jackie 08-08 x Griffen MHB 06-24)

Jaguar VST 12-18 (Jackie MHB 05-08 x Co-Jack CI 08-30)

Jester VST 12-20

Vastrap team visit to Sparta

Vastrap team visit to Sparta

At Vastrap we believe a motivated and happy workforce is essential to the success of our business. We currently employ about 22 people who live on the farm with their families. Every couple of years we like to take the team on an outing to get them off the farm and share new experiences (see Farm team fun with Clarence X-Treme; Close encounter with lions; Celebrating the World Cup!). This year we took the team on a tour of Sparta Beef in Marquard. We thought it would be interesting for everyone to learn more about the meat production chain in South Africa and how we as farmers fit into it. Not only do many of our weaners end up at feedlots like Sparta, but the grain we produce is also a key input in the production of beef.

The set-up at Sparta is very impressive with massive investment in infrastructure and equipment. It really is quite something to see! Our guide, Daniel, took us through the whole process from when the animals first arrive, to the sorting pens, feeding lots, working pens, silage bunkers, feed storage and mechanics workshops. The amount of heavy equipment they have is truly incredible and the silage bunkers are huge!! After the tour we enjoyed a lunch at the Sparta Polo club which has beautiful views overlooking Marquard. To end off the day, Quentin handed out awards for Long Service (5, 10, 15, 20, 25 & 30 years); Excellent Workmanship; 100% Attendance; Extra Effort and Retirement. Over the years our staff have been incredibly loyal to us. This year Francis Koetle celebrated 30 years of service and will receive a pregnant heifer cow as thanks. Thabiso Rasoeu has retired after an amazing 37 years of service and he started working when Quentin’s father, Bill was still farming!

A huge thank you to Sparta for hosting us. A great day was had by all!

5 Years of Service: Lehlohonolo Motsetse; Mpho Jack; Teboho Nkoli

10 Years of Service: Khopiso Motake; Teboho Mahase; Daniel Ntsau; Andre Scheepers

15 Years of Service: Mokete Rasoeu

20 Years of Service: Sani Motsetse

30 Years of Service: Francis Koetle

Excellent Workmanship: Francis Koetle; Lehlohonolo Motsetse; Tshidiso Jack; Andre Scheepers; Tseliso Koetle

100% Attendance: Daniel Ntsau; Tseliso Koetle; Sabata Khatlako; Francis Koetle

Extra Effort: Teboho Mahase; Tseliso Koetle; Tshidiso Jack

Retirement: Rahaba Ntshasa (27 years of service); Thabiso Rasoeu (37 years of service); Abraham Khatlako (22 years of service)

2017 Vastrap Auction: Farewell Mollshoop

2017 Vastrap Auction: Farewell Mollshoop

Thank you to everyone who supported the 2017 Vastrap Auction on Friday, 18 August. In many ways it was an emotional day for us as we bid farewell to the last remaining Mollshoop Boran cows that were the founding matriarchs of the Vastrap herd. Our Boran journey started with these cows and we have them to thank for the consistent quality and character of the Vastrap herd today. We bid farewell to the Mollshoop Jackies, Roses, Odettes, Hopes, Savannas et al and happily start afresh with their Vastrap (VST) offspring still carrying their names. We couldn’t have asked for a better outcome as the results on the day surpassed our expectations!

This was our 5th auction and without a doubt the most smoothly run, thanks to the great service we received from the whole team at OVK/CMW led by Johan Scholtz and Paul van Biljon. From the marketing, the setting up, the auction logistics through to the loading and administration, we continuously felt a sense of comfort that everything was being run efficiently and professionally. We would like to extend a huge thank you to all the OVK/CMW staff. We can wholeheartedly recommend OVK/CMW service to anyone thinking of holding a livestock auction. Thank you also to Johan van der Nest for bringing his A-game and lifting the auction with his usual unique style!

The organisation of an auction takes a huge physical and emotional toll, but it is all worth it when you see what an effort people make to get here. We were happy to see many repeat customers, but also lots of new faces, not only from the stud industry.

We are proud to be associated with all our guest sellers (Peinke Ranch, Pratos Borane and Heeltevrede Stoetery) who offered exceptional quality animals that did very well on the day. Huge congratulations to Peinke Ranch for having the highest price cow and bull on the day – Shakira PRB 14-21 (R205’000) and Leika PRB 14-18 (R140’000).

2017 Vastrap Auction Results
  Average Price Highest Price
All Bulls (17) R43 000 R140 000
Cows (25) R65 000 R205 000
Heifers (6) R34 000 R55 000

The average price of commercial pregnant cows was about R16’000.

Shakira PRB-14-21 sold for R205’000 to Damina Roberts.

Naledi MHB 11-52 sold for R140’000 to Rory Kockott KKT Boran.

Xany MHB 11-33 sold for R90’000 to Dr Ben Spies.

Rose MHB 06-03 sold for R85’000 to Peinke Ranch.

Jackie MHB 07-29 sold for R80’000 to Frontier Borans.

PRB 14-18 sold for R140’000 to Rohan & Dylan Meintjies Sterkfontein Borane.

Kingston VST 12-28 sold for R60’000 to Ockert Werner Model Borane.

VST 14-34 sold for R50’000 to Ockert Werner Model Borane.

PT 14-21 sold for R55’000 to Dr Ben Spies.