Are Top-Priced Genetics Really Worth It?

Farmer's Weekly|July 03, 2020

Are Top-Priced Genetics Really Worth It?
The logic seems to dictate that some livestock producers must suffer buyer’s remorse after purchasing an animal for an eye-watering price. Glenneis Kriel asked a few farmers whether their record-breaking acquisitions have paid off, and found the answer to be unanimous.
Glenneis Kriel

In 2014, a Dorper ram, Bolt, made history when Mickey Phillips sold it to Martin Compion, who farms at Lonziekvlei in the Northern Cape’s Bushmanland, for R600 000.

The purchase, which took place at the Upington National Dorper Sale, represents the highest price ever fetched by a Dorper, and one of the highest prices paid at a public auction for any sheep breed.

Compton remembers the auction as if it were yesterday.

“It was a tough purchase. Two Namibian consortiums were the main contenders, chasing the price up to R400 000 before I joined in the bidding.”

The purchase, however, did not work out the way Compion had envisaged.

“Buying Bolt for such a high price made sense, because I managed to negotiate a deal to sell embryos to a Brazilian consortium. The consortium, however, went behind my back and decided to rather buy embryos from the original owner, who still had a reasonable supply of Bolt’s semen.”

The Brazilian deal fell through, and Compton ended up selling Bolt back to the original owner a month later at the same price he had bought the animal for! But during that month, Compion used Bolt for the laparoscopic insemination of some of his stud ewes and also collected a thousand semen straws, of which he still has some left.

Dorper rams have never again fetched such a high price. This, says Compton, is primarily because of movement restrictions preventing Namibians from buying live animals in South Africa.

But despite the enormous sum he paid for Bolt, he is convinced that the animal has been worth every cent.

BRINGING BALANCE

Compion’s father, Martin Snr, played a major role in establishing the Dorper industry in Namibia, each year selling an average of 150 sheep at three auctions, of which two were hosted in Namibia.

In 2002, Compion bought 30 ewes from his father after his father downscaled production for health reasons, and three years later he launched his Compion Dorper stud with 50 ewe offspring of the World Champion Dorper ram of 1996, Chips.

In 2010, Compion bought the ram Bakgat for the then record price of R300 000, and this animal went on to play a major role in his stud.

“Chips built a solid foundation for the stud, whereas Bakgat helped improve fertility and reproduction,” he explains.

Bolt, he adds, brought balance by siring larger-framed sheep with more body fat that enabled them to thrive under very dry extensive conditions, as found in the Kalahari and Boesmanland.

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July 03, 2020