Co-op on track to provide nucleus herd for breeding

Emerging farmers near Humansdorp ach

One of the Kruisfontein Emerging Cattle Farmers Co-op’s first embryo calves
One of the Kruisfontein Emerging Cattle Farmers Co-op’s first embryo calves
Image: Kruisfontein Emerging Cattle Farmers

The Kruisfontein Emerging Cattle Farmers Co-operative near Humansdorp is on track to provide one of the nucleus herds for livestock improvement in the Eastern Cape.

This has been made possible through technology available to bovine agriculture – invitro fertilisation.

A nucleus herd is an elite herd of cattle used for breeding purposes.

The first batch of calves from high-quality embryos resulting from in-vitro procedures were born between November 4 and 12.

Kruisfontein Emerging Cattle Farmers Co-operative chair Vaaltyn Felix said: “We are very happy with the results of this programme, considering that 195 cows were confirmed in calf, to the new bulls in July, showing an improved conception rate under structured management.

“The results from the first round of embryo transfers show the conception rate of between 50% and 60% for invitro fertilisation.”

The long-term goal is to get the 100% black emerging farmers co-op to the level where it is one of the high-end breeding farms supplying bulls and cows to the provincial livestock improvement programme, which is a long way from the original low-quality herd.

Hlengiwe Radebe, economic development director for Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm, the financial supporter of the programme, said: “The importance of agriculture and the emerging farmers of the rural communities to our national economy is well known.

“Their contribution to poverty alleviation , food security, employment creation and the sustainable management of natural resources is critical.”

Radebe said livestock ownership in the rural areas had long been associated with prestige and status, or for stores of wealth and reasons associated with utility provision such as household milk, manure and, less frequently, for meat.

Because of this, she said, it was important to take into account that cattle in the rural areas underpinned social relationships between individuals in the community and did not only reflect the market value associated with ownership in commercial agriculture.

The livestock improvement programme seeks to increase the value of ownership of cattle in the rural communities while ensuring that the improvement of quality and productivity of livestock does not disenfranchise the traditional norms.

It has been just over a year since the Kruisfontein Emerging Cattle Farmers Co-operative welcomed its first superior genetic bulls, funded by the wind farm’s enterprise development programme.

The first herd of calves, from the introduction of the new superior bulls in year one, are now reaching weaning weight.

These calves have shown a rapid increase in quality, and weigh substantially more than their counterparts from the inferior bulls, Radebe said.

Felix said: “This programme has already boosted our co-op and taught us a new way of thinking about cattle farming, which we can pass on to future generations.

“What’s more, it is already having an impact on our community and creating jobs.”