Dirco Swart and his wife, Robyn, keep their Blinkmeneer Beefmaster stud on 580ha near Frankfort in the Eastern Free State. The stud, started in 2010, consists of 180 breeding females, of which a third are replacement heifers.
Swart uses eight bulls (four from his own stud) on his cows. A Blinkmeneer stud bull, DR 16 7302, went for R120 000 at the Sarwipi Beefmasters Auction held in August. In July, another Blinkmeneer bull, DR 16 1507, realised R48 000, the highest price at the Makiti Auction in Frankfort.
Annually, the stud produces 20 quality registered bulls, most of which are sold to commercial farmers. The focus is on producing top-performing animals, not on selling as many as possible. Swart has followed in the footsteps of his father, Manie, a former principal of the Wilgerivier High School, who farmed parttime until his retirement. Swart, who works in the banking sector, says his father instilled in him a love of beef cattle. The stud is named Blinkmeneer in memory of Swart’s late brother, Pieter, whose nickname for him was ‘Blink meneer’.
“It’s a pleasure to combine my love of numbers and the skills I acquired in the corporate environment with livestock breeding,” he says. “Numbers are important because, as a part-time breeder, I can’t afford to maintain animals that don’t excel economically.”
To maximise profit, Swart opted for a stud from day one, starting with 38 cows and two bulls on 210ha of leased land. He maintains that producing stud animals costs very little more than raising commercial ones, but the return on investment for a stud animal is considerably higher.
CHOOSING THE BREED
Being a part-time farmer is challenging, Swart admits, and his choice of cattle breed was therefore crucial. Because of the limited amount of time he can spend on the farm, he cannot afford a breed that requires mollycoddling. He stresses, moreover, that to be effective in a commercial herd, stud cattle have to be treated as commercial animals. Merely having the right ‘papers’ does not make a truly effective stud animal; the proof of the pudding lies in its performance.
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October 25, 2019