Last week I touched lightly on the fact that I attended the BLUB course at Hermon here in the Western Cape. Of course the whole experience got me thinking and below is a list of the most important “take away points”.

  1. Have clear breeding goals
  2. Always use a ram with better numbers than a ewe, so that her daughter’s genetic potential is better than her own
  3. Every ewe in the herd must lamb at least every year. The interlam period must be shorter than 365 days
  4. Try to achieve maximum genetic improvement with each mating
  5. Manage inbreeding
  6. Weigh constantly and record continuously. The more weak animals Logix identifies, the better numbers the rest of the herd gets

Of course, meeting all these points is the absolute ideal and one can only strive for it. Someone recently told me that a plan without a strategy means nothing. I had to both make a plan and develop a strategy around this.

The challenge is to apply the above principles “slavishly” to 2400 ewes without the porridge falling on the ground.

With IntelliFarm™ we have already mastered the weighing and recording, but managing the genetics in terms of points 2-5 is a horse of a different color. From the beginning, our breeding objective was to breed long reddish brown ewes and today most of our bred animals are reddish brown and mostly with a good “length of body”. But our Pedigree numbers need a lot of work, largely due to ewes being selected into the herd and the time it took us to find our feet in the world of stud.

Again, it is necessary for me to enlist the help of technology.

THE PLAN

My team and I developed the “Optimal Breeding Strategy Report”. This report offers us the following:

  1. List of best possible matings between a group of ewes and available rams to achieve genetic progress in terms of Pedigree’s Growth and Reproduction Indices.
  2. List of ewes where any combination of matings with available rams will result in inbreeding above 6.25%. This is Studbook’s maximum acceptable inbreeding coefficient.
  3. List of ewes that will be bred genetically backward if currently available rams are used.
  4. The average genetic improvement in breeding values ​​between current and next generation
  5. The increase or decrease of the inbreeding coefficient between current and next generation
  6. Direct access to Datamars Tru-Test XRS2 to electronically select ewes in the field.

THE STRATEGY

At LANDRANI® Meatmasters we already have the necessary infrastructure for the births and growth of our lambs. We call it the LamFabriek™ and GroeiFabriek™. For the rest of our production we use Karoo field.

Our ewes are now in a 9-month cycle which means we have to cover between 400-450 ewes every 6 weeks. We don’t have the amount of usable rams as well as the camps to do it naturally, and that’s why we do laparoscopy. But what about the ewes that don’t take to synchronisation, is it the ewe’s fault that we manipulate the natural process? In addition to laparoscopy, we must therefore give her a fair chance to be able to deliver a lamb within 365 days since her previous lamb. And how do we deal with the ewes that have better numbers than the rams we own and/or if certain coverages would exceed our inbreeding goal?

This leads to the creation of the Gene Factory. A slatted floor facility where we can put ewes in small camps with rams and small groups of ewes from time to time can AI with seed better than what we have ourselves. The Karoo field is therefore where we improve the genetics with the shotgun and the Gene Factory is where we use the “sniper” rifle. In such a purposeful structure, the health and care of the ewes is in a different class than with pens that need to be cleaned constantly.

As always, we are still going to learn a lot and pay our school fees, but this is an adventure and we embrace it with a passion.

Due to requests for another IntelliFarm™ software launch weekend, I thought it best to hold it on the weekend of the 19th and 20th of April. Guests do not have to stay at LANDRANI®. If guests wish to stay at LANDRANI®, the cost will again be R5000 per couple. This includes all meals and drinks. If you only want to attend during the day the cost will be R1200 per person. This includes everything to drink as well as an afternoon “snack” on Saturday. However, I will have to limit attendance to farm and or herd owners or their immediate family.

Feel free to press this link if you are interested, or send me a private Whatsapp if you want to attend this weekend.

Regards

Pieter