The Vastrap Boran 7-year Old Cow Offering – your best value proposition ever!

By Quentin de Bruyn

At the annual Vastrap Boran auction we offer all of our own bred pregnant 7-year old cows for sale. This is an exceptional opportunity to select a cow that most perfectly suits your farming environment and breeding objectives. In this article I will demonstrate all the tools that you can use to select the right animal for your needs.

  • At 7-years old a Boran cow is in the prime of her breeding life. She has already calved abut 4 times and about 60-80% of her productive life lies ahead (if she lives to 12 she could have another 6 calves).
  • She comes from a herd with the most accurate breeding values in the game so you can rely 100% on her EBV’s to make an informed decision about her production capabilities. 
  • She has had her parentage verified through DNA testing (all SP stud animals at Vastrap are DNA parentage verified) so you can rely on your knowledge of the genetics to make an informed decision. 
  • Lastly you can look at her historical performance figures available on Logix to judge her breeding quality.
  • The fact that we offer every single 7-year old cow – NO EXCEPTIONS – makes the purchase of a Vastrap 7-year old cow the most transparent, informative and value purchase around.

How to use find and use a cow’s performance figures

At Vastrap Boran we take performance measurement extremely seriously. We have won both an Studbook Elite Award and a Boran Society “Best Managed Stud” Award for 10 years running.  More Vastrap Boran bulls have participated in Studbook run Phase-D performance tests than all the other Boran studs put together. At one point 70% of all Phase-D tested Boran bulls were Vastrap bulls. Why is performance measurement so important to us? Well basically, to measure is to know and without measuring you cannot manage.  

In my opinion there is no doubt that with accurate birth weights, wean weights, wean ratios and phase-D performance results, one can make much more informed decisions about which animals to retain in your herd or which animals you need to purchase to enhance your herd quality and breeding objectives. When a herd has been performance tested for several years, the Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) also become much more accurate and these EBVs can then also be used as an additional selection tool. (see How to use EBVs for Selection).

In addition to accurate EBVs, Vastrap’s 7-year old cows also have performance records on Logix, which are open for everyone to see if you know where to look.

Let’s take the example of one of the cows on offer at the 2021 Vastrap Auction on 20 August, Eve VST 14-59. I will demonstrate how to use all the information available on her to inform your selection decision. 

First, let’s look at all the information provided on a typical auction catalogue page shown above.

  • Information such as her birth date, registration number, whether she has had her parentage verified is shown on the top line. (note – B stands for both parents verified, S stands for sire verified and if there is nothing there then the animal has NOT been verified – the catalogue can be misleading as it currently stands).
  • The pedigree of the animal (the father, mother, and grandparents), is shown in the 3 generation pedigree chart. Just remember if the DNA is not verified there is not 100% assurance that this information or the EBVs are accurate.
  • There is some very useful information just below the first box under Eve VST 14-59.  The AFC (34 months) and the ICP (389/4) – the ICP is an important figure. Lower down one can actually see the dates of her 4 calves.  There are also production indicators which I think are very important. RI (104) stands for reproductive index and indicates that Eve is above breed average here with an index of (104) and then one of the most important indicators is the Wean Index (WI) where she has an index of 108/4. This is very impressive because it indicates that all 4 calves were weaned successfully, all weaned calves were measured and that she outperformed the breed average significantly. 
  • The box below Eve’s mother Eve VST 11-19 also gives all this information as well indicating that this excellent performance was also achieved by her mother.
  • The Estimated Breeding Values (EBV’s) are contained in the table at the bottom of the page. The most important thing to remember when using EBV’s is that they must be accurate to be useful. Eve VST 14-59 boasts accuracy levels of above 73% on calving ease, growth and milk and only her ICP breeding value is below 50%.

Second, more detailed information on Eve VST 14-59’s production figures is available on Logix under the “Production” tab (shown below). Here you will see if the birth, wean, 12 month and 18 month weights of the animal were actually taken (for Eve the values are: birth 30kg, wean 203kg, 12-month 190kg and 18-month 260kg). If there are no figures shown here it means that the EBVs in the catalogue are only inferred from other data in the system. For bulls all the phase-D results will be shown on this page.

The overall picture for Eve is that she has slightly larger calves at birth (90 and 81 index), excellent weaning (108), fabulous milk (139) and cow efficiency (135), is larger than average in size with maintenance (89), is fertile (101) and has outstanding cow value (123) growth value (124) and production values (126) and a bull value of 130. WOW – she is a TOP cow!

The best selection TOOL is yet to come. When an animal has been included in the beef improvement scheme with performance values you get accurate EBVs and you get access to all the actual data that has been captured for that animal.

The Reproduction Card which is the 6th tab on the Logix system when an animal search is being done. The page looks like the one below. This card is the complete history of a cow’s own performance as well as that of all her natural self-reared progeny (excluding embryo calves).

Eve VST 14-59 herself was weaned at 202kg with a wean index of 107 and has a reproductive index of 104. She has raised all 4 her calves to weaning and they all weaned between 102 – 107. Three of her bull calves have completed their phase-D tests with above 100 feed conversion rates, while the 4th has just been weaned.

There is nothing more that a buyer could want or need to make an informed decision about the purchase of a Vastrap 7-year old stud cow. All my cows are on offer so no need to wonder why she is on offer; she has had her DNA verification done so her pedigree is correct; she has been inspected by two senior inspectors so she is structurally correct; she has accurate EBV’s so you can confidently use them as a tool; she has accurate performance data which is available for all to see and lastly she has 60-80% of her reproductive life left to provide quality offspring to her new owner.

What more could you possibly want?

How to use EBVs for Selection

How to use EBVs for Selection

By Quentin de Bruyn

When selecting animals to buy or retain in your herd its physical appraisal or how it “looks” will always be important. Stockmanship, or the art of being able to judge how an animal will breed on its “looks” is an art that takes years of experience, working with cattle, attending breeders courses and learning from experienced stockmen. Nothing can replace this skill. 

However, good stockmen also know that the best “looking” cow is often the poorest producer – these cows either don’t have enough milk to raise a decent calf or they are not good mothers and lose their calves through neglect. “Looks” are also not a reliable indicator of other important traits such as milk, how easily she calves or her ability to raise a healthy calf. The best mothers give everything to their calves, which can leave them looking in poor condition. Therefore, relying on “looks” alone can be problematic. 

Using Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) from performance tested herds is a critical tool to identify animals that not only look good, but are also good breeders. However, EBVs are only as good as the numbers behind them. They are only useful if they are accurate and they are only accurate if proper performance testing and data collection is done on an ongoing basis across the whole herd. It is very important to understand that inaccurate EBVs could be more misleading than helpful and should not be relied upon to make decisions. 

The following are some broad principles to use EBVs correctly for selection: 

  • EBVs tend to work against each other i.e. high scores in some areas will lead to low scores in others. For example, a cow with a high calving ease index (small calves) will tend to have a lower growth index. Similarly, a high “milk” index often contributes to a lower “fertility”, because cows that give everything to their calf can lose too much condition and struggle to fall pregnant again. The aim is therefore not to “maximise” EBVs but to be aware of the interplay between them and to understand what they say about the animals production potential. 
  • To use EBVs most successfully you need to have a very clear idea of your own breeding objectives and the needs of your particular farming environment. When you know what you want to achieve, accurate EBVs can help you select animals that fit into your environment and help you achieve your breeding objectives by addressing short-comings in your herd like growth or milk. 
  • Ideally, one should strive for balance across performance indicators rather than chasing outliers. 

Interpreting EBVs

Eve VST 14-59

In an auction catalogue, the Breeding Values for each animal are shown in a table at the bottom of each animals Lot card. (See example of Eve VST 14-59). There are four values in each Breeding Value column. The first value given, labelled “BV” on the left is the actual breeding value of that specific trait, the second line “Acc” indicates the accuracy in %,  while the third line expresses the actual breeding value as an INDEX against the breed average. The fourth line is a compilation of the relevant breeding value indexes into a single broader breeding value, such as fertility being based on both AFC and ICP. 

The EBV accuracy will give you an indication of the reliability of the figures. In general, anything less than 50% tells you that the actual recorded data underlying the figures is weak and unreliable. The more data that is collected through performance testing on an ongoing basis over generations within family lines the more value the EBVs have as a selection tool.

Breeding Values and the Breeding Value Indexes

  1. Calving Ease (CE)– The “Calving Ease” Index is compiled from the “Birth direct” and a “Birth Maternal” breeding value. An index of above 100 indicates that the animal will deliver below average size calves and therefore should reduce the chance of calving difficulties due to big calves. 
  2. Growth – The “Growth” Index is compiled from weaning weights and the 12 to 18 month growth performance as well as other data collected in the phase-C and phase-D tests. An index of above 100 indicates better growth than the breed average. This is particularly important for weaner production and an indication of their performance in a feedlot environment. 
  3. Milk – The “Milk” Index is made up of information from pre-weaning weights and weaning weights. An index of above 100 here indicates above breed average milk production which leads to higher calf survival rates and heavier weaners.
  4. Fertility – The “Fertility” Index is made up of Age at First Calving (AFC) and Inter Calf Period (ICP) and I think longevity also plays a role here. An animal with a fertility index of above 100 will give birth for the first time sooner and more frequently thereafter and for longer than the breed average in these traits.
  5. Maintenance – The “Maintenance” Index is based on the size and weight of an animal. The bigger the animal the higher the Direct Breeding Value (2nd to last line) will be, but the poorer the Maintenance Index will be. This is because bigger animals require more food and more hectares. A index of above 100 in maintenance indicates a smaller than breed average animal and will allow higher stocking rates.
  6. Cow Value – The “Cow Value” index is a tool rather than an EBV in itself. The Boran technical committee tries to determine what the ideal Boran animal should look like and how it should breed. This is expressed by giving a weight/importance to each individual breeding value. In the Boran breed the following weights have been determined – calving ease (9%), growth (25%), milk (18%), maintenance (12%) and fertility (36%). The “Cow Value” is a weighted composite of an animal’s individual EBVs and is meant to indicate how the animal is expected to perform against what the breed deems to be the perfect animal. The higher the Index the better the animal is expected to perform against the ideal breed standard.
  7. n my opinion, the individual EBVs are more useful than the “Cow Value” for selecting animals which help to fix a short-coming in your herd or which would be more suited to your own specific environment. Personally, I tend to discount calving ease because I think we are fortunate to have a breed with low birth weights and little calving issues. I also prefer to choose animals that are slightly above breed average in size because the Boran breed is a smaller breed and most South African farmers are weaner producers and want bigger weaners with good growth to get better per kg prices from the feedlots.
  8. Bull Value – The “Bull Value” index is generated from measurements in Phase-D and Phase-C performance tests of the testicles circumference of peer groups. An index above 100 will indicate that the animal will have above breed average testes in the male offspring. Testicle circumference is directly linked to fertility in cows and the quality and quantity of semen produced by bulls, which affects their ability to get many cows pregnant in the shortest time possible.

2021 Vastrap Auction

2020 Vastrap Auction: Results

2020 Vastrap Auction: Results

Thank you to everyone who supported this year’s Vastrap Auction. The current economic and social climate in South Africa is extremely challenging with Covid-19 having a devastating impact on many industries and livelihoods. Against this backdrop, we are extremely grateful that agriculture has been able to carry on largely as normal. Indeed, the current buoyant mood in the agricultural sector as a whole is quite surreal and something that we do not take for granted.

We are very blessed to be able to report on a hugely successful 2020 Vastrap Auction. Here is a summary of the results.

Average price Highest Price
Bulls

              R 73 809

  R 250 000
Cows              R  60 765   R 100 000
Cow with calf             R 168 750   R 500 000
Heifers                R 79 791  R  400 000

Pen Poster - Stenson - PRB 15 34 copy a

Sold for R250’000 to Cyril Ramaphosa’s Ntaba Nyoni Boran Stud.

16. VST 17-125

Sold to Elpheus Denga for R200’000.

27 BWS 16-102

Sold to Lilianne Victor for R120’000.

26 bws14-25

Sold for R100’000 to Keith Peinke of Peinke Ranch.

45. Jackie VST 13-60_1

Sold for R90’000 to Keith Peinke of Peinke Ranch

62. Whitney VST 13-86

Sold for R80’000 to Marius Meyer from Mountain View Borane.

19. Jackie VST 13-54

Sold for R80’000 to Elpheus Denga.

 

Pen Poster - Shakira PRB 13 19 & PRB 19 46 copy

Sold for R500’000 to Simeon & Jarren Hurwitz of Hurwitz Farming.

Pen Poster - Celine PRB 17 48 copy

Sold for R400’000 to Yolandie Botha and Danie Velthuysen.

Pen Poster - Latika - PRB 17 45 and bull calf PRB 20 07 copy

Sold for R220’000 to Yolandie Botha & Danie Velthuysen.

Pen Poster - Shakira PRB 17 60 withbull calf PRB 20 08 copy

Sold for R190’000 to Yolandie Botha & Danie Velthuysen.

 

Unique offering of 7-year old cows sets Vastrap apart

Unique offering of 7-year old cows sets Vastrap apart

The Vastrap Auction is distinguished by the fact that we offer for sale every single one of our own bred pregnant 7-year old cows. Each year these cows represent some of the best animals in the entire Vastrap herd and sometimes, the best in the country. This offers the buyer complete transparency and the opportunity to acquire an established herd matriarch in the prime of her productive life. We are excited to present the 2013 year group at the 2020 Vastrap Auction on Friday 21 August 2020.

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Over the past 8 years the Boran Society has consistently recognised Vastrap Boran as one of the best managed and best performing large herds in South Africa. This is significant, because it means that the value of our 7-year old cows is underpinned not only by their looks and genetics, but also by accurate performance values and progeny on the ground to showcase their quality.

Other breeders have often questioned how the Vastrap herd can survive the loss of the 7-year old group every year? The rationale is as follows. Because of our accurate measurement of performance, we are able to identify our best animals at an early age. These animals will be flushed once to ensure that we have more progeny on the ground by the time they are sold. Our cows have their first calf at 33-35 months so we get natural calves from them in years 3, 4, 5 and 6. Our philosophy is that a cow should breed progeny that are good enough to replace her within 4 years.

All of this underpins the value proposition for the buyer. The cows sold at the Vastrap Auction are offered under the auspices so they have been screened for conformation and are heavily pregnant or with calf. Within 3 and a bit years the buyer should have 4 calves on the ground from a top cow from one of the best herds in the country. All in all, the buyer reaps the  benefit of years of meticulous record keeping, research and top Vastrap genetics.

We are proud to be able to offer this unique opportunity to our clients. It has been heart-warming to see how many of the 7-year olds we have sold over the past 8 years have made their mark as herd matriarchs at their new homes. Here are some of the beauties that have gone under the hammer at past auctions.

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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

Screenshot 2019-05-08 at 14.12.05

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)