Over the past few decades the industry has become more commercialised, with the oxen that are being marketed becoming younger by the day; these days even uncastrated weaners are taken from their dams. In the process, the ox – the animal behind the symbol – has virtually disappeared from the commercial livestock farm. Since they no longer enjoy prominence in the mainstream livestock industry, these large oxen are also no longer on the media’s radar.
According to Albert Loubser, chief organiser of Nampo ALFA, this is exactly why they are working towards elevating the position of the ox by establishing the mega-ox concept at ALFA. Here the animals can participate in a mega ox exhibition during which the heaviest ox at the expo will enjoy the spotlight.
“Although few farmers still have large oxen, this exhibition clearly attracts a lot of interest, both from fascinated spectators and the media. Last year, this project alone enjoyed more media coverage than the rest of ALFA’s projects combined. It seems that our efforts to give recognition to the ox is paying off.”
The fence manufacturer, Cape Gate, he adds, fully understood this sentiment, seized the opportunity to act as the sponsor of the project and enthusiastically did more than their share.
“But if you look beyond the symbolism and sentiment of the ox,” Albert emphasizes, “you’ll find that there is a lot of science and value attached to an ox farming enterprise. The ox is certainly not a caricature taken from the past for the sake of emotion.”
Do these massive oxen have any commercial merit? Christiaan de Jager of O-La-La Chianinas, who bred both 2018 and 2019’s winners, believes they do.
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