A new answer to SA's high demand for red cattle
Farmer's Weekly|October 22, 2021
The demand for red cattle has always been high in South Africa. To enter this market and offer breeders an alternative to the traditional options, the Du Plessis family, who owns the Brandwater farming business, managed to establish one of the country’s most successful Droughtmaster studs. Chris du Plessis spoke to Denene Erasmus.
Denene Erasmus

Brandwater is a family farming business based in the Free State. The business is headed by third-generation farmer Linde du Plessis, who has been farming in the Fouriesburg region for more than 40 years. He was joined on the farm in 2003 by his son Chris. His other son, Koos, joined the business in 2008, and the team was complete when Linde’s son-in-law Francois Hamman, who is married to his daughter Adele, joined them a couple of years ago. The Brandwater farming business is well diversified and includes livestock, crops, and apples. The business is operated from properties around Fouriesburg, Clarens, and Bethlehem in the Free State. The cattle component, which includes a Brahman and Droughmaster stud, as well as a Merino sheep stud, is predominantly based in the Fouriesburg region. The business’s commercial livestock branch produces weaners for the weaner and feedlot markets. From time to time, they also use some of the maize they produce to round off cattle for slaughter on the farm. The crop component comprises sugar beans, maize, and wheat.

The livestock farm is situated in a sour veld region, and it experiences very cold winters with night temperatures dropping to -12°C, and averaging -6°C.

Even in summer, the nights are cold with temperatures dropping to around 6°C overnight. Daytime temperatures are mild, rising to a maximum of about 15°C in winter and 28°C in summer.

“It is a tough environment for the livestock to live in and grow,” says Chris du Plessis.

GRAZING MANAGEMENT

The area experiences high rainfall of around 650mm per year, and the sour veld grazing consists of grasses such as red grass (Themeda triandra). As such, the veld is only palatable during the summer growing season. During winter, the protein content and digestibility of the veld decreases.

“The cattle can graze on the veld from when the first summer rain starts falling around September until we start getting the first winter frost in March or April,” says Du Plessis.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM FARMER'S WEEKLYView All

The value of pollinators for seed production

In a study to provide a global estimate of the importance of pollinators for plants in natural ecosystems, researchers from Stellenbosch University, led by Dr James Rodger, a postdoctoral fellow in mathematical sciences, found that, without pollinators, one-third of flowering plant species wouldn’t produce seeds at all.

3 mins read
Farmer's Weekly
December 03, 2021

The cost of labour

Bill Kerr suggests some labour-saving methods and a way of ensuring that your workers are more productive.

2 mins read
Farmer's Weekly
December 03, 2021

Simplifying work

How much money you make from your farm depends on how profitable it is, and this is often the result of efficiency and productivity. In short, you need to get more out of every hour, says Roelof Bezuidenhout.

3 mins read
Farmer's Weekly
December 03, 2021

Preventing a sugar crash

The future of the country’s sugar cane sector has never been more uncertain and, as a result, the livelihoods of many thousands of people hang in the balance. Could the South African Sugarcane Value Chain Master Plan be the lifeline that the industry has been waiting for? Susan Marais reports.

6 mins read
Farmer's Weekly
December 03, 2021

Nissan Navara single cab: a capable, well-priced workhorse

Nissan has introduced a new range of South African-built Navara single cabs that are sure to prove popular. These robust bakkies are a fine match of functionality, handling and comfort. Pieter Dempsey reports.

4 mins read
Farmer's Weekly
December 03, 2021

Maize production: the first 40 days

In this article, the first in a two-part series, Magda du Toit speaks to experts about the different growth stages of a maize plant in the vegetative phase, as well as the crucial management practices to follow during this time to achieve optimal yield. Advice on weed control is also included.

8 mins read
Farmer's Weekly
December 03, 2021

Getting the work done with TGB's quad bikes

TGB recently launched its Blade 600 range of all-terrain vehicles in South Africa. The range includes models for recreational and commercial use, and could be a wonderful on-farm helper. Janine Ryan reports.

4 mins read
Farmer's Weekly
December 03, 2021

Cows and cars should not be conflated in climate change debate

Discussions about, and analyses of, the impact of livestock as emission polluters often fail to distinguish between different farming systems. According to Ian Scoones, professorial fellow at the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex in the UK, intensive and extensive production systems have different effects on the environment.

4 mins read
Farmer's Weekly
December 03, 2021

Fruit burn

This week’s article in the series looks at factors that cause sunburn and ways to reduce the problem, such as the use of irrigation and shade nets.

3 mins read
Farmer's Weekly
December 03, 2021

Attention to detail: the key to broiler production

Poultry production has significant challenges, with high input costs and narrow margins being near the top of the list. However, Dale Shepherd, owner of Plaston Chicken Farms in Mpumalanga, has found that meticulous management and keeping a close eye on finances can bring business success. Lindi Botha reports.

8 mins read
Farmer's Weekly
December 03, 2021