Most of the ewes we initially bought were reddish-brown in color, and it was incredibly pleasing to the eye for me. As we all know, beauty fades, but virtue endures.

I then started with an in-depth study of the Meatmaster breed and gathered information through research and consultations with experts in the industry. Clynton Collett and Drs. Johan, Fanie, and Thomas Steyn made significant contributions to my study.

On another occasion, Manie and Karin Wessels introduced me to the INRA 401 sheep. The INRA 401 is a crossbreed between the Berrichon du Cher and the Romanov. The latter usually gives birth to multiples and is ready for mating as early as 4 months old. The Romanov is not seasonal and can be paired at any time of the year.

The INRA 401 is thus a highly productive ewe, with a 200 percent lambing percentage, excellent out-of-season fertility, good milk production, and outstanding maternal qualities.

Although the INRA 401 or Romanov is not available in South Africa, their traits serve as a good guideline for evaluating local options.

Given all this information at my disposal, I had to decide whether the Meatmaster would meet my requirements to achieve my goal of 55,000 ewes.

From my research on the Meatmaster, the following was clear:

  1. Meatmasters can be successfully mated at any time of the year.
  2. Meatmaster ewes are sexually mature at the age of 7 months and can then be bred.
  3. With optimal nutrition, laparoscopy, and aggressive selection, the percentage of multiple births can quickly rise to around 150% per cycle.
  4. The Meatmaster’s smooth top line and slightly lower rump make lambing easier, resulting in fewer mortalities at birth.
  5. Meatmasters exhibit excellent maternal qualities.
  6. Ewes are highly fertile, and uteruses recover quickly for reoccupation in an accelerated lambing cycle of 8 months.

So with a 150% lambing percentage as well as the ability to lam every 8 months sustainably, my calculation resulted in a potential lambing percentage of 225% per year.

Of course, at that stage, everything was still theoretical in nature.

Albert Einstein dubbed the principle of “compound interest” as the 8th Wonder of the World. The principle involves the investment of initial capital, the reinvestment of interest, and the benefit over time.

I have built the following hypothetical model based on the principle of compound interest:

If I start with 100 ewes and count until the first 100 have completed their lifespan (7 years), and I use laparoscopy and female sexed semen.

How many ewes will I have after 7 years?

I have assumed that multiple births compensate for lower stocking. So I ignore both and work on 1 ewe = 1 lamb.

  • Merino 12-month program: Mate young ewes at 12 months = 2200 ewes
  • Meatmaster 8-month program: Mate young ewes at 7 months = 4300 ewes

From this, I got my answer and decided that the Meatmaster was the right breed for me.

Next week, we will address the second question for which I had to find an answer – Where and how am I going to keep all these ewes?

Take a look at this link for a very detailed summary of what makes the Meatmaster breed so special: