We woke up at 5am on Day 7 of the Iowa Farm Bureau market study tour of South Africa to enjoy another safari game drive. We explored another part of the reserve and saw elephants, zebras, warthogs, black backed jackets, hippos, giraffes, and a number of other animals. This amazing natural resource is definitely bragging rights for South Africa.
Our second stop of the day was to a farm just north of Pretoria that specialized in Hereford breeding stock. The 24 hectare farm runs 110 breeding stock -bulls and cows – with some of the best stock in the world. One of the bulls has been recognized as the second best in the world. Those familiar with the Hereford breed know the problems with cancer eye (called pink eye in the U.S.). They have learned to manage that disease through their breeding program. They select animals with deep set eyes, brown eye pigmentation, brown circles around the eyes, and eyelashes that point down instead of up. This selective breeding has greatly reduced the number of animals that suffer from cancer eye.
While the Herefords are the pride and joy of the farm, the money maker for the farm are the 2600 laying hens and the eggs they sell. This accounts for 80% of the farm revenue managed in six buildings. The eggs are manually harvested and packaged by a staff of 18. The white chickens produce a brown egg which is exactly what the local market demands. Brown eggs sell better, but when they cull the flock only white birds are purchased.
The farm also runs 1200 dohne merino sheep. This dual purpose breed is a cross between a German land sheep and the typical merino. They are raised for fine wool and mutton. One interesting practice is that they dock the lamb tails at six weeks. When they dock them with bands they cut the tip of the tail. This drains the tail of blood and allows it to dry faster. The lamb is in pain for a shorter period of time and recovers quicker.