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.

The importance of accurate EBVs in animal selection

In this blog I would like to focus on Estimated Breeding Values (EBV’s) and why are they so important. In particular, how can EBVs be used to help pick which animals to buy in order to build or improve one’s herd. The main point I would like to make is that EBVs supply crucial decision-making information to a buyer, but they are only as useful as the data used to calculate them. It is important to bear in mind that the EBVs published in an auction catalogue do not indicate whether the breeder participates in the National Beef recording and Improvement scheme or how accurate the particular set of EBVs are (i.e. what data on the individual animal has actually been captured rather than inferred). As you will see below, we are doing everything we can at Vastrap to make sure the EBVs in our sale catalogue are meaningful and can be used as an extra tool to select the right animal for your herd.

Unpacking EBVs

Basically, when one buys a stud animal, there are three ways in which to judge the potential value of that animal to your stud. Firstly, one can look at the parentage or genotype (hence the importance of doing proper DNA parentage verification see The importance of  parentage verification through DNA testing), secondly one can look at build or phenotype and lastly one can use EBVs. In rare cases one is able to look at progeny when buying older animals. While parentage and sound functional physical attributes like muscling, leg structure, udder conformation and teat quality will always play a very important role, EBV’s can be used to complement visual screening to select animals. There are several individual EBV’s that allow a breeder to come to an informed decision about what the animal in question can offer the breeder beyond good looks.

All EBV’s are expressed as an index where 100 is the average. Where an animal’s index is below 100, then it has faired poorer than the breed average, while an index above 100 means it has faired better.

I will briefly discuss the individual EBVs below.

  1. Birth EBV – One wants animals that have smaller or lighter calves. This EBV serves as an indication of whether this animal will produce smaller/lighter or bigger/heavier calves. An index of over 100 will mean better than average and equate to a better chance of below average birth weight. This EBV is broken into two categories: the animal’s own birth weight EBV (Direct) and the maternal EBV.  The data that feeds into these EBVs are recorded birth weights of calves born. If one has a calving problem in your herd, one would look to buy a bull with a high calving ease EBV index (i.e. low birth weights)
  2. Calf Growth and Milk EBVs – These values are calculated using the data gathered from wean weights, the mother’s weight at weaning, 12 month weights and 18 month weights as well as the phase-D growth performance testing of bulls which is more accurate than just 12 and 18 month weights and also includes other important data points. Generally a growth and milk index above 100 is very desirable, though like all things in life some balance must be kept. Milk and fertility generally have an inverse relationship and so does growth and calving ease. If one were predominantly a weaner producer, then one would want higher milk and higher growth.
  3. Fertility EBV – The fertility EBV is made of two sub components namely the age at first calf (AFC) and inter-calf period (ICP). Obviously, one wants an animal that has the ability to calve first amongst her peer group and that calves regularly, preferably once a year. An index above 100 is an indication that the animal is more fertile than the breed average and this is based on the past performance of the family members of the animal in question. Milk and fertility often are inversely correlated (the more cow gives to a calf the less likely she is to fall pregnant again), so while one wants the most fertile herd possible, one should avoid negatively influencing the herd milk values in this pursuit.
  4. Cow Weight EBV – The cow weight EBV is made up of the 18 month EBV and adult weight EBV. A heavier animal at 18 months and as an adult has an index of above 100, while smaller animals have indexes low 100. The combined indexes are then used to derive a cow maintenance index, which is inversely proportional to the cow weight indexes, since a smaller cow is deemed to have a lower maintenance value. In harsher environments one would want smaller cows to reduce the maintenance factor.
  5. Cow Value EBV – This is an accumulation of the individual EBV indexes and uses a formula using different weights of importance for the individual EBVs to give an indication of the value of the cow. Personally, I am of the opinion that individual breeders have different needs and therefore place different emphasis on individual EBVs. A breeder should rather look at the individual EBVs to see what is needed in their herd than to rely on a set formula that does not take into account different environments and individual preferences.

EBVs and data collection

Our main purpose in writing this blog is to underline the importance of thorough record keeping and the supply of accurate performance data to the National Beef recording and Improvement scheme. The EBVs supply crucial decision-making information to a buyer, but they are only as useful as the data used to calculate them. It is important to bear in mind that the EBVs published in an auction catalogue do not indicate whether the breeder participates in the beef improvement scheme or how accurate the particular set of EBVs are. One can only judge this by looking at the production data on Logix (Live Stock Information and Genetic Information Exchange) to see whether any weights have been captured.

In the Boran industry, the number of breeders participating in the National Beef recording and Improvement Scheme and performance testing is still low. I am often disappointed to see that animals in which I have a strong interest at auctions do not have a single measured data point – no birth weight, no wean weight, no mother weight at weaning and certainly no 12 or 18 month weight. Without this data, no meaningful insight can be drawn about the potential future performance of the animal and one only has genetics and physical attributes on which to make a decision.

Since buying the Mollshoop Boran stud in 2011, our policy at Vastrap Boran has been to collect as accurate data as possible on every single animal, including birth weight, wean weight and the mother’s weight at weaning. We also collect 12 month and 18 month weights. In addition, since 2011 Vastrap has put 95% of its bull calves through the Studbook administered phase-D veld performance test, which provides additional important information such as testes development, muscling, meat yield and marbling to name a few (see Bull Selection and Performance Testing). Vastrap alone has contributed over 35% of all the recorded phase-D bulls tested in the Boran stud industry.

We can therefore assure you that the EBVs of Vastrap animals, even those older ones where their individual performance data was not measured, is as accurate as it can be. You can rely on the EBVs of Vastrap animals published in the Vastrap Auction sale catalogue and these EBV will provide you with an extra tool to assess the animals you like, over and above build, looks and parentage. This should help you to make a more informed decision about which animals will fit into your herd.

Below are examples of the production data and EVBs drawn from Logix for Jackie VST 12-04, and one of our three-year old bulls that went through performance testing VST 14-84. The first column of data shows all the data on the animal that has actually been measured. This data is important for the animal’s parents and their progeny, who will have EBVs based on the performance of their parents until they get their own data.

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

Vastrap Auction Bulls

Vastrap Auction Bulls

Hi everyone, it’s Quentin here. We are starting to gear up for the 2017 Vastrap Auction, which will be held on Friday, 18 August. This weekend, while taking photos of the new crop of 3 year old bulls that we’ll be offering, I noticed something which highlights the great value for money that can be had at our auction. We pride ourselves in our rigorous selection process for our bulls (see Bull selection & performance testing), offering only the best bulls for sale each year. There is something for everyone, bulls that will be an asset to any herd, stud or commercial, at very affordable prices.

The photos below illustrate how bulls that did not get sold at the auction last year, which I then held back to use in the Vastrap herd, have developed. These bulls could have been snapped up for a steal last year!

Two of the bulls offered at the 2016 Vastrap Auction (full brothers out of a Jackie/Khan mother, VST 13-59 & VST 13-102), which I really liked, did not get a bid. When they were not sold I kept them to use in the Vastrap herd. Another bull – a Goliat son VST 13-36 – was not offered at the auction because he was slightly less developed and I thought there were better Goliat sons in the auction group.

Here are some photos of the three bulls as they look now. I think that they have developed into pretty nice specimens and I am very happy to have them in my herd.

The main reason I wanted to share these photos is to demonstrate the real value for money you can get at the Vastrap Auction: a buyer could have picked these stunning bulls up for R18’000 last year and several others that went for between R20’000 and R25’000. Another reason was to demonstrate that Boran bulls only actually reach their prime at about 5-6 years and that one needs to factor this in when buying bulls. The bulls we sell at the Vastrap Auction are all between two and a half and three years of age and 100% veld raised. They are selected by their performance against each other on veld conditions and they are only made auction ready for the three months after selection.

For the discerning buyer, there are both very good value for money bulls and future herd sires available at reasonable prices. I have sold all my previous herd sires at extremely good prices to fellow breeders after I have used them for 3-4 years. It amazes me these bulls can sell for hundreds of thousands, yet people are not prepared to pay nearly the same for their sons that have been put through a much more rigorous selection process than their fathers and should perform better in the long-run.

We look forward to introducing you to our selection of bulls for the 2017 Vastrap Auction in the weeks ahead! Please let us know if you would like to be added to our mailing list.

Final bull selection for the 2016 Vastrap Auction

Final bull selection for the 2016 Vastrap Auction

Every year as part of our efforts to ensure that only the best 3-year old bulls are offered at the annual Vastrap Boran Auction, some independent fellow Boran breeders help us to do a visual evaluation of our bulls. It was one of the coldest mornings of the year, but seeing how far the bulls have come made it all worthwhile. We had two visitors from Botswana watching the proceedings and we made sure they were bundled up in warm jackets and beanies!

Stompie Olivier (Hotspot Boran) has been showing with cattle ever since he could walk and we highly respect his knowledge and eye. Due to his “showing” experience, he has an excellent eye for conformity and correctness of both females and bulls. Oom Theo van Zyl (Faurzyl Boran) has been a stud breeder for 30 years and is very strict and picky in his selection of animals. He know what commercial and stud breeders are looking for and which type of bulls breed well. Rikus Stander (Mount Kenya Boran) has a very keen eye for detail and does not miss faults like small testes, bad hooves and leg conformation. He was unfortunately not able to attend our selection day this year. These breeders and cattlemen have knowledge and experience way in excess of ours. They are also not emotionally involved with our cattle and their opinions are not biased due to sentimental attachment to certain dams or sires. We are grateful for their time, effort and the honest opinions and critique they give. As a stud breeder, Quentin believes that one should continuously learn from those more knowledgeable than yourself, continue to grow, ask questions and take constructive criticism.  The path to becoming a better breeder is a journey and not a destination.

All breeders place slightly different importance on certain attributes and each bull is discussed to reach consensus. The evaluations are based purely on phenotype (not genetics). Structural correctness and meat attributes are used to give bulls a rating of A+ for herd sires, A for stud sires, B+ for top commercial , B for average but passable and C for cull.  It is quite important to note that these bulls are all fully registered SP Boran bulls, having passed inspection by the Boran Society of South Africa. They have also been selected against each other based on their performance in a phase-D veld performance test (see Bull selection and Performance testing).  Of the original 70, that started the year, 43 were left over for this physical inspection by the independent breeders. Typically there are about 5 bulls that get an A+ rating, 15-20 that get a A- or A rating, 15-20 that get a B+ rating and about 10 that are B or C.  The B’s and C’s are all culled even though they performed well in the veld test, have been passed by the Boran Society, but are not deemed worthy of the Vastrap Boran brand and will not be good ambassadors for the Boran breed.

Only 20 of our best 3-year old bulls will be offered at the 2016 Vastrap Auction (Friday, 19 August 2016). These 20 have been selected using a combination of their phase-D veld test performance and their physical evaluation with genetic diversity playing a smaller role. Vastrap bulls not only encompass the best genetic combinations from proven lines, but have also gone through far more rigorous selection than their fathers ever did. Watch this space to see which bulls made the grade in our final selection!

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Introducing our new stud sire, Samurai SS 11-31!

Introducing our new stud sire, Samurai SS 11-31!

Vastrap Boran is excited to introduce one of our new stud sires, Samurai SS 11-31 (Dianna SS 06-03 x Kobra SS 08-61). His mother, Dianna SS 06-03 (HVT 97-15 x HVT 95-03) caught Quentin’s eye very early in his stud breeding career when he visited Corn van der Watt in January 2012. She is an extraordinary cow – beautiful with a stunning femine wedge, good length and width and fantastic breeding ability. Kobra also impressed. On that visit Quentin saw three different groups of multi-sired embryo calves at Sandsonia, and in his opinion, Kobra’s progeny were leagues ahead of the other bulls used on the same dams.

We would like to thank Corn and Johan for offering such a top specimen for sale. In our opinion, Samurai impresses both phenotypically and genetically. We would also like to thank Stephen Johnson with whom we consulted extensively before making this purchase.

Samurai SS 11-31

Samurai SS 11-31 (Dianna SS 06-03 x Kobra SS 08-61).

One of the main reasons that Quentin remembers Dianna so well is that her breeding goes back to 1603 on the sire side and ADC 3746 (Mutara) on the dam side, which is so similar to one of our best cow bloodlines, namely Savanna. The Savanna granddam, Savanna TLM 00-03 is also a HVT 95-03 (1603) daughter out of B 96-009 (ADC 8408). Both Savanna and her daughters produced some of the best offspring every year. Unfortunately, the Savanna bloodline does not flush very well, so we have not been able to multiply this bloodline effectively. With only natural mating, it is also extremely difficult to produce a stud sire that we can re-use in the Vastrap herd since many of the females will be related to a Savanna son bred out of one of our own stud bulls. With his breeding, Samurai is therefore the perfect addition to our herd.

Below are some photos showing the consistent quality of the Savanna offspring.

Savanna TLM 00-03 (Savanna B96-09( ADC 8408) x HVT 95-03 (1603))

Savanna TLM 00-03 (Savanna B96-09( ADC 8408) x HVT 95-03 (1603))

Savanna MHB 07-16 (Savanna TLM 00-03 x Khan MHB 04-27) - The second highest priced cow at the 2014 Vastrap Auction (R130'000)

Savanna MHB 07-16 (Savanna TLM 00-03 x Khan MHB 04-27) – The second highest priced cow at the 2014 Vastrap Auction (R130’000)

Savanna MHB 09-13.(Savanna TLM 00-03 x Voorslag TLM 02-03) - On offer at the 2016 Vastrap Auction!

Savanna MHB 09-13.(Savanna TLM 00-03 x Voorslag TLM 02-03) – On offer at the 2016 Vastrap Auction!

Savanna VST 15-91 (Savanna MHB 09-13 x Griffen MHB 06-24)

Savanna VST 15-91 (Savanna MHB 09-13 x Griffen MHB 06-24)

Savanna MHB 11-57 (Savanna MHB 07-16 X Rustin MHB 06-30).

Savanna MHB 11-57 (Savanna MHB 07-16 X Rustin MHB 06-30).

Savanna VST 15-98 (Savanna MHB 11-57 x Zed DLV 10-17).

Savanna VST 15-98 (Savanna MHB 11-57 x Zed DLV 10-17).

Savanna VST 12-58 (Savanna TLM 00-03 x Rustin MHB 06-30)

Savanna VST 12-58 (Savanna TLM 00-03 x Rustin MHB 06-30)

Savanna VST 15-80 (Savanna VST 12-58 x Zed DLV 10-17).

Savanna VST 15-80 (Savanna VST 12-58 x Zed DLV 10-17).

Savanna VST 12-60 (Savanna MHB 09-13 x Rustin MHB 06-30)

Savanna VST 12-60 (Savanna MHB 09-13 x Rustin MHB 06-30)

Savanna VST 15-54 (Savanna VST 12-60 x Zed DLV 10-17)

Savanna VST 15-54 (Savanna VST 12-60 x Zed DLV 10-17)

Savanna VST 13-124 (Savanna TLM 00-03 x Rustin MHB 06-30)

Savanna VST 13-124 (Savanna TLM 00-03 x Rustin MHB 06-30)

Savanna VST 13-126 (Savanna TLM 00-03 x Rustin MHB 06-30)

Savanna VST 13-126 (Savanna TLM 00-03 x Rustin MHB 06-30)

Savanna VST 13-129 (Savanna TLM 00-03 x Rustin MHB 06-30) - highest priced heifer at the 2016 Showcase Auction (R47'000).

Savanna VST 13-129 (Savanna TLM 00-03 x Rustin MHB 06-30) – highest priced heifer at the 2016 Showcase Auction (R47’000).

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!