Daddy’s little cow girl!

Quentin had an opportunity to give our little almost-one-year-old Livia, a proper introduction to our Boran cows today. She’s often seen our herds from the safety of the bakkie and passed them on our daily walks, but today she got up close with her daddy. Boy did she love it! Some of our best cows were together for our annual IVF programme, which is a way to get more offspring from our top animals. We couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity for Livia to meet our herd matriarch Hope MHB 04-11 and her beautiful little heifer calf by our former stud sire Rustin MHB 06-30, who was sold earlier this year. If her shrieks were anything to go by, Livia thought it was all very impressive and entertaining, much to her daddy’s delight!

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Breeding season has begun!

The first rain of the season heralds the start of our cattle breeding season here in the Eastern Free State. After a good long rest over winter, our bulls have all been tested for fertility and STDs and now they are being put to work with the ladies. Here is group of young heifers, mainly from our previous herd sire Rustin MHB 06-30, who have been joined for the first time by one of our stunning young bulls, Zambuca VST 11-01 (Khan MHB 04-27 x Zelma). He is a very exciting prospect who is a strong contender to take over the role of herd sire at Vastrap. He is already on the job – any of you girls keen for a body slammer?!

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A cluster of Boran

At Vastrap Boran we’ve decided to coin a new collective noun for the Boran – a cluster. We think this perfectly describes the strong herd instinct of the Boran. They always stand together in a tight-knit group, which helps them to ward off predators and defend their young.  This attribute also makes it much easier to manage the herd as illnesses can be spotted quickly and animals are less likely to stray, especially in mountainous or bushy terrain.

The beautiful breeding cluster shown in the photos below is currently running with Rustin MHB 06-30, the main stud sire at Vastrap Boran.

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Losing Hope

There are few things more enjoyable than heading out after a long day on the farm to spend some quality time with our main herd of Boran cows. They are usually very happy to see us and come running in their cluster to say hello. Long before Quentin started his cattle stud he always told me that he loved being a stockman because cows have personalities. I didn’t really understand this until I met the Boran – curious, serene and beautiful animals each with their own little quirks.

The matriarch of our herd is Hope MHB 04-11 (see The HOPE bloodline). She is a beautiful polled white cow with a strong head and the most gorgeous gentle nature (see Hanging with Hope). Importantly, she is a breeder of bulls with three stud sires among her progeny (see Husky MHB 07-09 and Hero MHB 06-13). We are savouring every moment with her as she will be sold at our auction on 16 August. It seems terrible to have to let her go, but we’ve made a commitment to sell every single 9 year and older cow, which includes some of our very best (see 2013 Vastrap Boran Auction). Hope is the front-page girl on our auction brochure which will be released soon. I think she does a great job showcasing the quality of animals that will be on offer!

We’ll miss you Hope, but I think your absence might open the way for some other beauties to reveal their personalities. I can see there are some characters just waiting for an opening! You have left your mark on the Vastrap Boran herd and still have much work to do in your new home, where ever that may be.

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Heifer bonding

We spent Easter Monday morning replenishing salt licks and checking on the animals as our staff had the weekend off. These Boran heifers were weaned a month ago and seem to be doing really well.

Easter 056We have seen from visiting other farms that Boran cattle respond very well to a bit of extra care and attention. When time allows, we make an effort to bond with the animals. It’s a slow process, but eventually the effort will pay off and these little beauties will be comfortable with people and have great temperament.

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Introducing the 2013 Vastrap Boran Sale

We’ve been very busy finalising our plans for the inaugural Vastrap Boran Sale, which will take place on 16 August at our farm near Ladybrand in the Eastern Free State (click HERE to see where we are located). There is so much to plan and organise, but we are very excited to welcome fellow cattle farmers and stud breeders to Vastrap later in the year for our sale.

We have been working hard to come up with a concept that makes the Vastrap Boran auction special, one that stands out from the crowd and becomes one of the must-attend auctions of the year. To do this, we are introducing a new sale concept, which will guarantee that we consistently deliver top quality aminals to the market in an open and transparent manner. This year we will be selling all of our registered and pregnant 2004 and older females (no exceptions) and all of our 4 year old bulls. This includes some of the most famous Mollshoop cows such as Hope MHB 04-11 (see The Hope bloodline), Kelly MHB 04-24 (see The Kelly bloodline), Cindy MHB 04-06 and her full sister 04-04 (see The Cindy bloodline). There are also some very rare genetics such as a FE 93-66 daughter and grand-daughter. By placing all of our pregnant 2004 and older cows on auction you can be guaranteed that we are not being selective.

The timing of the sale in mid-August also lends itself to bull sales and again we are not being selective – every single 2009 bull is for sale.

This is our first annual auction and we want it to be a success. We will be serious sellers of every animal at the auction so that buyers return in 2014.

We are having the sale in partnership with Paul Pienaar (Bar Circle), Bernie Staal (Bos Blanco), Keith Peinke (Peinke Ranch) and Stephen Johnson (Frontier) in order to offer more animals, a wider range of genetics and younger female animals (particularly heifers).

We look forward to seeing you there. You will not want to miss out on this one!!

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Touring with the Free State Boran Club

The Free State Boran Club organised a tour to Stompie Olivier (Hotspot Boran), Quentin de Bruyn (Vastrap Boran) and Makena Scheepers (Letselaskraal Boran). This was followed by a Boran stud breeders’ course held at Rikus Stander’s farm near Marquard (Mount Kenya Boran).

The tour was extremely well supported by 21 fellow Boran breeders. It was an awesome opportunity to showcase our Boran herd to fellow breeders and we really enjoyed the opportunity to see great quality animals in other herds. There was also plenty of time for socialising. Great thanks to our sponsors, OVK, Voermol and Embryo Plus, which enabled us to have an amazing evening at Oranje Guest Farm near Fouriesburg where we were treated to fantastic hospitality by Makena and Mona Scheepers.

Cindy MHB 07-10 - one of the cows seen at Vastrap Boran.

Cindy MHB 07-10 – one of the cows seen at Vastrap Boran.

At Makena and Mona Scheepers.

Free State Boran club members at Letselaskraal Boran with Makena and Mona Scheepers.

A cluster of beautiful Boran at the magnificent Letselaskraal.

A cluster of beautiful Boran at the magnificent Letselaskraal.

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Contemplating beauty.

Oranje Guest Farm near Fouriesburg.

Oranje Guest Farm near Fouriesburg.

Albert van Zyl and Rikus Stander.

Albert van Zyl and Rikus Stander.

The two day Boran breeders’ course was presented by Mario du Preez and Stefan Buys. The course is a must for both aspiring and current breeders with a focus on the tools needed to run a stud successfully and to create common goals for the Boran breed in South Africa. Again, we need to thank both Rikus Stander and Willie Anderson for allowing us to use their facilities and their animals to judge and for being so generous with their time.

The new committee of the Free State Club have started the year brilliantly with great communication, enthusiasm and delivery. The success of both the tour and the course can be squarely attributed to Albert van Zyl (Meander Boran), Rikus Stander and Stompie Olivier. Well done guys! Click here to see the new Free State Boran Club website.

The grass is greener!

It’s amazing what a difference rain makes, especially in the usually dull Free State! Earlier this week Quentin did a photo shoot with some of his Boran cows that are being prepared for embryo flushing at Stompie Olivier’s farm about 40km from Vastrap near Hobhouse.  Some of these cows will also be on sale at the Vastrap Auction on 16 August, 2013!

Here are some stunning photos showing the lush veld and gorgeous cows in their full glory. Just look at the contrast with a few months ago!

Winter contrast

Dry winter veld – Ginger MHB 06-48 with calf by Rustin.

Swimming in grass!

Swimming in grass!

Afternoon showers.

Afternoon showers – Hope MHB 04-11

Now where is that pot of gold?

Now where is that pot of gold?

Too cute!

Too cute!

Flush group.

Contented flush group.

Bonding with Cindy MHB

Bonding with Cindy MHB 04-04.

Motherly Affection

Boran cows have extremely strong mothering instincts, which make them very protective of their calves. Perhaps this has something to do with their heritage in Kenya of grazing in the veld alongside wild animals (see The Boran: God’s Gift to Cattlemen). I saw this first hand one day when I was walking the dogs and came across Hope MHB 07-12 who had been separated from her new born calf. Some how the calf had landed up on the other side of the fence from her. She was going crazy and started charging the dogs! I quickly got them out of the way and went to call Quentin to help. It was quite a struggle to get her through the gate without being charged, but all she wanted was to keep her calf out of danger. She was perfectly happy once they were reunited.

Below are some beautiful photos capturing special moments between Boran cows and their calves.

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Hanging with Hope

You have probably gathered by now that we love our Boran cattle. They are so beautiful and serene. Having them on our farm has really added another dimension from a business perspective, but also for the pure enjoyment of them. Our Boran stud was significantly expanded late last year when Vastrap Boran (VST) acquired the whole of Mollshoop Boran (MHB), one of the most well-known Boran studs in the country.

Quentin loves cattle farming above all other farming, because cows and bulls have personalities. Each one is an individual. A character. But that doesn’t mean that they like us. No, a cow will usually run away if you try to get close to her out in the open veld. Unless they are being worked in a cattle crush, most cows and bulls tend to mind their own business and stay clear of people. One has to be careful though, because cows can get quite aggressive when they are protecting their young calves. I avoid walking between cattle and their calves when our blind dog Paris is with me. Even our little beagle Coco can be a liability because she is so curious and likes to bark at the cows!

The Boran tend to be a bit more friendly than other breeds of cattle and some of them are very tame. At Vastrap, there is no bigger character than Hope (MHB 04-11). She is one of the top cows in our stud herd – a polled cow (no horns) with a strong head that has already bred three stud sires – but she is also the most friendly. She loves a good tickle and scratch especially if you bring her a treat of lucern pellets.

Magnificent Hope MHB 04-11.

A little tickle and scratch to say hello.

Can’t get enough of them pellets!

We love taking people to meet Hope and she especially loves kids, because they give her more food and they are a whole lot cuter than us!

Ashley meeting Hope for the first time.

Dylan saying hello to Hope.

Wait-up! I haven’t finished eating yet!

When we had visitors a few weekends ago we took the kids out to feed Hope again. It was a freezing cold morning and the kids were all bundled up in their winter kit. But the cows were happy because they had just been put into a newly harvested maize field, which tastes delicious and nutritious compared to the dead winter grass.

Cold cows enjoying the left-over maize.

Some pellets for you Hope?

Haven’t had enough yet?

She looks hungry Quentin.

Here Hope, try some delicious lucern pellets.

She likes a good pat and a rub while she is eating.

Thank you Alexander… munch, munch, munch.

And then last Sunday after Quentin’s birthday lunch we took another ride out to see Hope (see A Whiff of Spring!). Thankfully it was MUCH warmer. But Hope liked the pellets and attention just as much as ever. She can’t get enough of those pellets and we can’t seem to get enough of her… the things we do for amusement on a farm!

I’m not leaving this bucket until the last pellet is finished!