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.
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:
- Top cow in the country R250’000
- Heifer from top cow – R100’000 (in two years time)
- 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.
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.