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).

Boran resilient through extreme drought

Boran resilient through extreme drought

Based on records going back 119 years, 2015 was the driest year ever recorded in our district. At Vastrap we recorded 386mm in 2015 compared with a long term average of 620mm. Our rainfall for the 2015/16 summer has only been 300mm. Two dry summers in a row have really taken their toll causing a succession of crop failures and a depletion of grazing. Even Quentin’s father, Bill de Bruyn, who started farming here in 1955 can’t remember farming ever being so challenging.

Vastrap rain

We’ve been hopeful that the drought would break since January, but every shower we get is just too little to really make a difference and is followed by a few more weeks of extreme heat and drought. The growing season is basically at its end and we have very little grazing left and hardly anything baled. Our last two maize crops have been a failure and the sunflowers not much better. Most concerning of all, we are starting the “dry” season with our earth dams empty or at critically low levels. Getting our animals through to October/November is going to be a serious challenge if we don’t get a big downpour before winter sets in.

Against this backdrop, we have been absolutely gobsmacked by the resilience of our cattle, particularly the Boran. They have done us proud through these very stressful conditions. We expected our fertility rates to plummet and especially did early pregnancy testing to see which animals we could sell, but the results were astounding. Our overall pregnancy rate is about 85%, which is lower than last year, but many farmers would be very happy with that in a normal year. We were also extremely surprised by the amazing quality of our most recent batch of Boran weaner calves (weaned on 29 March 2016). We would normally be happy with a wean ratio of 50% for bull calves and 45% for female calves, but our ratios were much higher than that for our first group of 2015 Boran weaners (see table). The group of bull calves from first time calving mothers achieved an average wean ratio of 60% and average weight of 234kg, which is really extraordinary in these conditions!

It’s been a real struggle staying positive with the world looking so dead and brown over the past few months and with the constant worry about where next to move the cattle so that they would not run out of food and water. What a pleasant surprise then to get results like these and to witness first hand the resilience of this beautiful cattle breed that we love so much. Our faith in the Boran is stronger than ever!
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Group of 2015 weaner calves.

Group of 2015 calves weaned on 29 March 2016.

Jackie VST 12-44 with bull calf by Husky MHB 07-09 (248kg & 64%!)

Jackie VST 12-44 with bull calf by Husky MHB 07-09 (248kg & 64% wean ratio!)

VST 15-58 (Jackie VST 12-40 x Husky MHB 07-09). He was the heaviest bull calf at 261kg on 29 March and a wean ratio of 64%!

VST 15-58 (Jackie VST 12-40 x Husky MHB 07-09). He was the heaviest bull calf at 261kg on 29 March and a wean ratio of 64%!

Jackie MHB 07-09 with bull calf by

Jackie MHB 09-07 with her bull calf (not weaned yet).

Savanna MHB 09-13 with heifer calf by Jazz MHB 11-15.

Savanna MHB 09-13 with heifer calf by Jazz MHB 11-15.

Kelly VST 12-113 with heifer calf (228kg & wean ratio of 58%).

Kelly VST 12-113 with heifer calf (228kg & wean ratio of 58%).

Jackie VST 12-59 with her heifer calf by Zambucca VST 11-01 (230kg & wean ratio of 63%!)

Jackie VST 12-59 with her heifer calf by Zambucca VST 11-01 (230kg & wean ratio of 63%!)

Weaned heifer calves.

Weaned heifer calves.

Crossbred Boran Feedlot Trial with Sparta

Crossbred Boran Feedlot Trial with Sparta

Vastrap Boran participated in a feedlot trial of Boran crossbred weaners with Sparta Beef organised by the Free State Boran Club. The initiative was planned and implemented by Rikus Stander of Mount Kenya Boran. The results are great news for the Boran breed. In particular, the feed conversion rates (FCR), both during backgrounding and the feedlot phase were better than the feedlot average and the slaughter percentage was also excellent. Sparta management was very pleased and positive about the results of this particular group of Boran crossbred weaners.

SPARTA Boran weaner feedlot results

Based on the performance of this group, Mr Tinus Greyling, head buyer for Sparta stated emphatically that he would not discriminate on the purchase of this type of animal. Mr Louw van Reenen, co-owner of Sparta and feedlot director has stated personally that the final results were very good and that we should be pleased.

However, Mr Greyling and Mr Van Reenen both added that this was one pen of particularly good animals and that the results of this trial was by no means a guarantee that all Boran crossbred animals would fair so well. There are huge variances within breeds and even more so with cross breeding to a multitude of other breeds. The key to performance is that one should begin with good quality foundation cows crossbred with good quality bulls. In this case the majority of the crosses were with tried and tested commercial Angus cows. The weaners supplied by Vastrap Boran were all from larger framed Khan sons (see Khan MHB 04-27), and this included the best performing animal of the trial. It is also extremely important to note that these were not pure Boran weaners, but mostly first generation (F1) crosses and a smaller percentage of second generation (F2) crosses with mostly British beef breeds as the foundation animals (see “ The Commercial Future of the Boran: Crossbreeding”). This feedlot trial therefore does not address the question of whether pure Boran animal are suitable for feedlot conditions.

Selecting the weaners

On the 10th of July 2015, 129 weaners were delivered to Sparta Feedlot in Marquard. There were 108 animals delivered by Vastrap Boran (Quentin de Bruyn), 9 from SP Els Boran (Fanie Els) and 12 from Jodan Boran (Danie Botha). From these, 81 Boran crossbred males were selected for the pilot – these were mainly F1 animals, but there were probably about 12 F2 animals included. The animals that were excluded were either females or pure Angus. We were given a very competitive price of R20.50/kg. Vastrap’s group of 108 animals averaged 223kg and included 20 females, thus giving us R4,577.65 (ex-VAT) per weaner.

Backgrounding performance & Sparta Tour

A group of about 24 people visited Sparta on 10 October to view the animals that had by now completed their “backgrounding phase” and were in the feedlot proper. Importantly, Danie Botha invited buyers from various livestock auction companies that were also present. Sparta management was very hospitable and gave us a grand tour of their facilities. The tour included viewing of the processing of weaners entering the feedlot for the first time, viewing of animals at various stages of their feedlot life and a look at the complex feed storage and mixing facility. There was a lot of information about the management and performance of feedlot animals, invaluable knowledge for any weaner calf producer. A highlight was viewing their incredible silage bunkers, which have been awarded the best silage quality in South Africa for the last 2 years!

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Whilst viewing the Boran weaner pen, we were given data on their performance. During the backgrounding phase, the Boran animals performed at the long-term average of the feedlot in terms of Average Daily Gain (ADG) (1.46 kg per day per animal), but interestingly much better than average on the Feed Conversion Rates (FCR) (1 kg of live mass gain per 4.36 kg of dry mass eaten). When asked which was more important, Mr Tinus Greyling (head buyer for Sparta) emphatically stated that FCR is much more important for the profitability of the feedlot which was very good news for the Boran.

At this point, the Boran group had been in the main feedlot for 55 days and had an ADG of 1.61kg. This was again approximately the average of the feedlot, but not much more could be said as we were not given the FCR and the animals still had a long way to go. It was interesting to note that several of the F2 Boran had done significantly worse in their ADG, but because FCR was not recorded for individual animals and only for the group as a whole, it was not possible to make an informed decision about whether this was good or bad for the overall test result. At some stage a group of purebred Boran will have to be included in the performance test to gain valuable information about their ADG and FCR relative to other breeds and the feedlot averages. All in all though, it was a highly successful day and the data was looking very positive for the Boran.

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The white F2 animal (above right) had a particularly good ADG of 1.55 kg/day during backgrounding, 2.44 in the first 55 days and a final of 2.05. The brindle animal (above left) is an example of a F1 that performed well with a final ADG of 1.89 kg/day.

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The Boran crossbred pen at 55 days.

118 day performance

Another visit was scheduled for 9 December 2015, which was attended by about 25 people. There were many new faces and some who had been on the previous tour. Again, the Sparta management were very kind to give us a tour of the entire feedlot much the same as the previous tour, but this time we got to see our group of Boran crossbred animals in the week before they were to be slaughtered. We also got given more data. The animals were weighed on 8 December after 118 days in the feedlot. The ADG was 1.77, which is excellent and well above the feedlot average. The animals looked very good too and now all we required was the final FCR and the slaughter results to complete the picture. The wait for these final results have been painfully long since we were all so excited to see and analyse the final results!

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The two top animals are the same two animals pictured previously at 55 days. The animal facing the camera bottom left, was the best performing animal with a final ADG of 2.35 kg/day. Interestingly, this is a Khan grandson out of a pure Angus cow.

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The Boran crossbred pen at 118 days. Notice the nice width of this particular group.

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Final results and slaughter percentages

The final ADG was 1.63 after taking into account the death of 5 animals. The ADG of the group before accounting for fatalities was 1.77 kg per day per animal. Interestingly, one of the animals that died was the poorest performer at the first viewing with an ADG of only 0.18kg per day, but two others had been very good performers with ADG figures of 2.04 and 2.13 respectively. An important reason to continue to pilot the Boran in the feedlot would be to establish whether this number of deaths is a once off or whether the Boran are more susceptible to deaths under feedlot conditions that other breeds.

Overall, this specific group of Boran crossbred animals performed very well in the feedlot environment. Their ADG of 1.63kg gained per animal per day was slightly higher than the feedlot average. Their FCR of 1kg of live weight gained per 4.87kg of dry matter eaten was well above average. The slaughter percentage of 58.83% was also outstanding and the grading of the carcasses was also very good (8 x A3, 68 x A2, 1 x A1).

We can be very happy with these results, but we also need to acknowledge that it is only one group of animals. The quality of the foundation animals undoubtedly plays a role in determining performance. There are huge variances in the quality and performances of animals within the same breed and no bull of any breed will be able to ensure good performance of its offspring in the feedlot when used on poor performing cow herds. We need to continue to run more feedlot pilots and gather much more information to be able to make informed decisions. For now, the good news is that Sparta were very happy with the results, that they were able to make a decent profit from these animals and that, at this stage, there is nothing to indicate that Boran crossbred weaners do not perform in the feedlot!

Jackie-Khan: the foundation of the Vastrap herd

The two most prominent bloodlines in the Vastrap Boran herd are the Jackie motherline and the Khan sireline. The Jackie’s have been prolific breeders because of their enormous flushing capabilities and excellent fertility. The Jackie’s are obviously close to our hearts, because the very first investment we made in the Boran was the purchase of Jackie MHB 05-08 for R500’000, the year before we acquired the entire Mollshoop herd.

Khan MHB 04-27 (from the Kelly bloodline) is the bull that has made the greatest impact on the Vastrap herd in terms of sheer numbers and quality of his offspring. He was used as the primary sire from 2006 until he was sold in 2013. Khan is a bull with “X-factor” – incredible length of body, depth, muscling and most importantly, he breeds quality. A year after Burnie Staal bought him, he confided that the purchase of Khan made him feel like he had bought 50% of the Vastrap herd. Burnie showed further faith in this combination by purchasing a Khan son out of Jackie MHB 09-20, VST 13-84 for R160’000, the top priced animal at the 2016 Vastrap Auction!

Khan MHB 04-27 (2012)

Khan MHB 04-27 (KPO 786 x ADC 5761).

KHAN MHB 04-27 (Back)

Here you can see the incredible muscling and width on his back.

Khan MHB 0427

The Jackie-Khan combination creates the foundation on which the Vastrap herd is built. Not only is this a combination that yields eye catching and beautiful progeny, but these offspring have themselves gone on to breed fantastically well with a range of different bulls (Rustin, Griffen, Goliat & Ollie). Below are some examples of the quality and impact that the Jackie-Khan offspring have made on the Vastrap herd. What is remarkable is that not one of the Jackie’s shown below is from same Dam, which demonstrates the amazing consistency of this motherline.

Jackie MHB 07-31 (Jackie MHB 05-06 x Khan MHB 04-27).

Jackie MHB 07-31 (Jackie MHB 05-06 x Khan MHB 04-27) – Judged “Champion of the Yard” at the 2015 Boran Expo.

Jackie MHB 08-07 (Jackie MHB 05-12 x Khan MHB 04-27).

Jackie MHB 08-07 (Jackie MHB 05-12 x Khan MHB 04-27) – mother to Jazz MHB 11-15. 

Jackie MHB 09-22 (Jackie MHB 05-10 x Khan MHB 04-27)

Jackie MHB 09-22 (Jackie MHB 05-10 x Khan MHB 04-27) – simply stunning!!

Jackie MHB 12-40 (Jackie MHB 07-32 x Khan MHB 04-27) - granddaughter of Jackie MHB 05-08.

Jackie MHB 12-40 (Jackie MHB 07-32 x Khan MHB 04-27) – granddaughter of Jackie MHB 05-08.

Jazz MHB 11-15 at weaning (MHB 08-07 x Rustin MHB 06-30).

Jazz MHB 11-15 (MHB 08-07 x Rustin MHB 06-30) – looking beautiful at weaning!

Jazz MHB 11-15 (Jackie MHB 08-07 x Rustin MHB 06-30).

Jazz MHB 11-15 (Jackie MHB 08-07 x Rustin MHB 06-30) – a stunning young bull now flying the Boran flag in Zimbabwe. 

VST 13-84: The highest priced animal at the 2016 Vastrap Auction (R160'000).

VST 13-84: The highest priced animal at the 2016 Vastrap Auction sold to Burnie Staal for R160’000.

Blessed by the Boran

Blessed by the Boran

We had a fantastic time at the 2015 National Boran Auction last weekend that was held at the Afridome in Parys. It is always a real pleasure to catch up and socialise with our fellow breeders from around the country and to meet new people interested in the breed. The auction itself went very well. The top priced bull, Rupert LW 09-13, was sold for R230’000 to a Namibian breeder. Several females, both cows and heifers went for between R60’000 and R85’000 with average prices in the range of R35’000 (see Latest Auction Results). We were thrilled to purchase two great animals to join the Vastrap herd. A prospective stud sire, DVB 08-16, whose grandfather is 2738 and on the dam side has 494 and HVT 95-03 (R70’000). We also bought, JH 07-08, which has HVT 95-03 as her grandfather and KPO 791 on her dam side (R35’000).

The biggest surprise for us, was that Vastrap was awarded the Dave Green Memorial trophy for the best managed medium-sized Boran herd in South Africa! We really weren’t expecting any prizes, but it is fantastic to be acknowledged and to know that our work is paying dividends. The award not only celebrates the animals, but also gives credit for good administration and data capturing, which is one of the things we focus a lot of effort on.

The award is based on performance in a number of quantitative indicators. A third of the scoring is for data capturing (birth, weaning, 12 & 18 month weights) and the percentage of bulls that participate in phase D performance tests. Vastrap bulls account for a third of all Boran bulls in Studbook’s official performance tests each year. This data plays a very important role in our selection of bulls for the annual Vastrap Auction, which will be held on 14 August (see 2015 Vastrap Boran Auction).

The rest of the scoring is based on the size of the herd, inter-calving performance, age of first calf of herd and days since last calving. We have been very blessed to have exceptional fertility in our herd over the past year. There are many things one can do to improve performance in this area to achieve consistently good results, but a lot of it is also down to weather and grazing conditions. There is no doubt that we have been blessed and we are extremely grateful to have these wonderful animals in our daily lives.

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Learning from the Best

Learning from the Best

Vastrap Boran was very proud to be a part of the inaugural Boran Expo held on 13 March 2015 at Kroonboma. We had such a great time and really believe that this is a fantastic initiative set to become a highlight on the Boran calendar. Not only was it great to network and chat to other breeders in an informal and relaxed setting without the usual nerves and jitters brought on by an auction, but we also learned so much from the judging of the animals by Burnie Staal from Bos Blanco, who is a qualified cattle judge and a cattleman of huge experience and stature. The way he methodically assessed each animal on a set list of criteria was extremely enlightening and it just shows that there is always something new to learn. Some of the animals that we picked as our top three had weaknesses that we initially missed, while others like the cow who was eventually named Champion of the Yard, Jackie MHB 07-31, were significantly underrated by the general audience. Burnie has been a judge at the World Brahman Congress so he certainly knows a good animal when he sees one and we were honoured to have our animals judged by him.

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The day also brought unexpected success for Vastrap, with the winners in each category – best heifer, best young bull, best bull over 3 years old and best cow – all from our genetics! Groenland Borane, who were huge supporters of the 2014 Vastrap Auction, were well rewarded for their support by winning best older bull with Goliat MHB 06-47, best cow and Champion of the Yard with Jackie MHB 07-31 (Jackie MHB 05-06 x Khan MHB 04-27). We could not be prouder of this achievement especially since that Jackie was our personal pick of last year’s auction (see The Jackie Bloodline).

Jackie MHB 07-31 – Judged Best Cow and Champion of the Yard at the 2015 Boran Expo

Goliat MHB 06-47 – Judged Best Bull over 3 years old.

The happy team from Groenland Borane!

The happy team from Groenland Borane!

The winner of the best young bull was Jaguar VST 12-18 (Jackie MHB 05-08 x Co-Jack CI 08-30) who is definitely a rising star at Vastrap! His mother was one of the first cows that we bought for R500’000, a huge gamble that has certainly paid off many fold. The best heifer was Ginger TZ  13-05 (Ginger MHB 06-48 x Khan MHB 04-27) who is the result of an embryo that our neighbour Theo van Zyl (Faurzyl) bought from us. We are extremely proud that our young animals are doing so well!

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Jaguar VST 12-18 (Jackie MHB 05-08 x Co-Jack CI 08-30) – Judged Best Young Bull

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Ginger TZ 13-05 (Faurzyl) – Judged Best Heifer

What one learns very quickly in this game is that there is always something to learn and the best way to do so it to have as much input as possible from outsiders with fresh eyes. It is so easy to overlook mistakes, especially in animals that one has a soft spot for. We are so privileged to have two exceptional stockmen in Stompie Olivier (Hotspot) and Theo van Zyl (Faurzyl) who are part of the team we call in to help us every year with our cattle selection. Oom Theo certainly has a great eye because he picked Ginger TZ 13-05 as his best heifer and personally chose Jaguar VST 12-18 out of a group of 50 bulls as his favourite. He and Stompie have also had huge success in the animals they have bred and selected together, like HOT 13-01 (Bianca HOT 07-08 x Buffel TLM 02-01) who was judged the second best young bull by the breeders at the Expo. The heifer that was placed second, BUL 13-01 (Bullseye Borane), was also Hotspot genetics.

We feel truly blessed and the Expo could not have gone better for us personally. It’s great to know that we’re on the right track and we have renewed energy to keep on improving!

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Burnie Staal with Theo van Zyl from Faurzyl Borane.

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Honoured to be judged by Burnie Staal!

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Burnie Staal with Elrie and Stompie Olivier (Hotspot)