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)

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!

Fun at the 2014 Vastrap Auction!

Here are some photos of the 2014 Vastrap Auction this past Friday. We would really like to thank everyone from near and far who made the effort to be with us. Part of our love for the Boran is the amazing interactions we have had with fellow breeders, many of whom we now count as close friends. Hosting people in our home and on our farm is a crucial part of building these relationships. This year we were also very blessed to have our 7 month old daughter, Livia Lerato with us on auction day. She was fascinated by the animals and loved being passed around from one adoring auntie to another! Thank you to everyone who helped make this a special day. We look forward to doing it all again in 2015!

Please click HERE for more information about the top animal prices.

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Late afternoon contemplation.

Late afternoon contemplation.

Last animals being brought in.

Last animals being brought in.

Pre-auction dinner at Vastrap.

Pre-auction dinner at Vastrap.

Early morning refreshments.

Early morning refreshments.

Little Livia part of the action!

Little Livia de Bruyn part of the action!

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The pens.

The viewing pens.

Buyers looking around.

Buyers looking around.

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The auction ring.

The auction ring.

Lunch time!

Lunch time!

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Support crew!

The support crew!

Vastrap Boran Auction: Johnnie Walker Whisky Tasting

We had a fantastic time hosting guests from all over the country at the first annual Vastrap Boran auction. We were even able to tempt Boran lovers from Namibia to join us for the event – thank you Hermanus and Marlene Biewenga for travelling such a long way! People who stayed at guest houses in Ladybrand on Thursday night also joined us at Vastrap for a special whisky tasting evening sponsored by Johnnie Walker. Thanks to the lure of good whisky, neighbours from as far as Thaba Nchu even braved the cold to socialise with us! The tasting of Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve and Johnnie Walker Blue Label was led by Derek Cuthbert, a whisky expert from Brandhouse in Johannesburg. Johnnie Walker Red, Black and Double Black was also available for comparison. During the tasting it was revealed that the buyers of the most expensive animals on the auction would each receive a bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue Label – an exceptional treat indeed!

The menu was especially chosen to complement the whisky: smoked salmon and cream cheese blinis, chicken liver patè, mushroom patè, home made sausage rolls, a large steak and guinness pie, a decadent cheese board and mini chocolate cupcakes. A large outside fire pit helped to keep the smokers warm, while our Aga stove and Morsø fire contributed to a cozy atmosphere indoors. The revelry carried on late into the night, with some of the last guests only arriving at midnight! Thank you to everyone who made the effort to join us. We hope you had a great time and we would love to see you again next year!

Last minute food preparations.

Last minute food preparations.

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Hayley Breytenbach from Brenaissance Stud with her decadent cheese board.

Hayley Breytenbach from Brenaissance Stud with her decadent cheese board creation.

Stephen & Debbie Johnson from Frontier Borans, partners in the auction.

Stephen & Debbie Johnson from Frontier Borans, partners in the auction.

Rob Hamilton from Cambrai Stud getting to know Tumi & Patch.

Rob Hamilton from Cambrai Stud getting to know Tumi & Patch.

Derek Cuthbert with Jarren & Simeon Hurwitz from B. Hurwitz Farming.

Derek Cuthbert with Jarren & Simeon Hurwitz from B. Hurwitz Farming.

Albert & Karen van Zyl (Meander Boran) and Hanlie & Ockert Werner (Model Boran).

Marisa with Karen & Albert van Zyl (Meander Borane) and Hanlie & Ockert Werner (Model Borane).

Quentin with Ockert Werner & Hendy Mathews.

Quentin with Ockert Werner & Hendy Mathews.

Derek fielding questions.

Derek fielding questions.

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Braving the cold!

Keith & Karen Peinke from Peinke Ranch, partners in the auction.

Keith & Karen Peinke from Peinke Ranch, partners in the auction.

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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Auction Countdown

With only two months to go before the inaugural Vastrap Boran auction on 16 August, we’ve been very busy getting things ready on the farm (see 2013 Vastrap Boran Auction). Our cattle facilities have undergone a major upgrade over the past few months and the building is almost complete. The original cattle crush at Vastrap was not built to accommodate the needs of stud cattle, particularly AI and embryo flushing so we thought it was high time for an upgrade.

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Original crush more suited to commercial cattle.

We have moved an old unused shed from another part of the farm and it is now covering part of the new cattle crush, which Quentin designed. There is an enclosed area, which includes storage facilities, an embryo lab and kitchen and toilet facilities. All of these will come in very handy in the auction set-up. Lots of the windows and fittings have been recycled from other parts of the farm to reduce wastage. We also have great new loading facilities close to our house, which will save a lot of time and effort, because we previously used facilities on a neighbouring farm.

We’re on track to have everything ready at the start of August. In the meantime, visitors are very welcome at Vastrap any time to view our animals. We look forward to welcoming you at the auction on 16 August – don’t miss it!

The shed going up.

The shed going up.

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Loading facilities under construction.

The crush and loading facilities under construction.

Making progress with the walls.

Making progress with the walls.

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Loading facilities already in use.

Loading facilities already in use.

A clear-sky cold Free State morning!

A blue-sky cold morning in the Freeze State!