The number one challenge most of us in South Africa have is the sustainable availability of power from electricity. Power and electricity are two different concepts, although we refer to them as the same.

Electricity (the flow of charge) provides the energy that can be converted into power for various applications.

Power is therefore a universal concept that is the driving force behind change.

When this driving force is used optimally, incredible things happen. I want to quickly tell you about Norway, one of the richest countries in the world. Norway owns the Norwegian Sovereign Investment Fund which is currently US$1.62 trillion strong. Norway is also one of the most water-rich countries in the world and in 1895 built their first hydroelectric power station. Since then they have been the largest exporter of electricity worldwide. In the late 1960s, Norway discovered oil and gas in the North Sea. Because they were already a treasure-rich country, they had the ability to make unprecedented resources available for the further discovery and development of their oil and gas fields. If Norway today were to divide their State Investment Fund between the 5.5 million citisens, each would pocket R5.5m.

Norway has optimally developed the resources at their disposal.

In terms of a farm, or any business, it is the owner who is the driving force for the success of the enterprise. It is therefore the owner’s “power” that is needed to bring about change and progress on a daily basis. But the owner is surrounded by human resources that, if developed and empowered correctly, can be invaluable.

It is said that if one has a long enough pole, one can lift the earth out of its orbit. The principle is “leverage”. When we combine power and leverage one gets “power²” and I would go so far as to give credit to Norway for combining power and leverage and building 1,769 hydroelectric power stations since 1895 until now. And today every citisen there is a Rand Millionaire x 5.

John Maxwell made a statement that drastically changed my outlook on people, projects and the future 25 years ago. He said the following: “The success of a business can only be measured the moment you remove the leader”.

I am therefore always looking for people who show the potential to be empowered, so that I myself no longer have a “job”. Someone always has to get an opportunity to lift me out of the saddle in my own business. And only then do I develop the power, combined with leverage, to build various enterprises whose success is not dependent on my personal involvement. When this happens we get “Strength due to Empowerment”.

The owner is the “power” and the human resources are the “lever”.

The method I have always implemented is the development of computer systems in which I program my own thinking, processes and way of doing things in order to empower my successors to be able to do things just like me, or even better than me. My latest empowerment project is to computerize “my selection decisions” so that I can hand over the baton of breeding to a successor.

Breeding Selection

Now that our recorded herd is 2400 ewes strong I believe we have enough data to leave 70-80 percent of the breeding decisions to the IntelliFarm™ system. However, there will always be a phenotype component but I only limit it to the lower selection group.

The system evaluates every ewe in the herd and gives her a ranking the same as tennis and golf players. Below are the data elements we use for these automatic selection choices:

  1. Studbook status (B,C&SP)
  2. Studbook Breeding Values (EBV’s)
  3. Build and type “Score” out of 10
  4. Lamb-to-insemination ratio
  5. Colour
  6. Average 60-day weaning weight of lambs
  7. Total kg of lamb produced per insemination

Above data is applied in context and according to “weights of importance” by the system.

We believe that with the above selection strategy we will reach our breeding goals sooner rather than later.

Red-brown ewes that all produce at least one lamb per cover and all wean at least 20kg lambs at 60 days.

The harsh reality of our selection method is that we are going to consistently pick out good Appendix A ewes that are not our personal “vanilla” colour.

Once all the Appendix A ewes have been taken out, we will move on to the Appendix B ewes. And so over time we are forced to constantly sell good ewes to buyers who do not stud with an aspiration for SP ewes.

We will keep you posted on how this strategy works for us.