Are Top-Priced Genetics Really Worth It?
Farmer's Weekly|July 03, 2020
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.

Hantam and Namaqualand, by contrast, are winter rainfall regions with higher precipitation and hence better grazing. Farmers here prefer an animal with less body fat that does not get overfat on the plentiful grazing in winter.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM FARMER'S WEEKLYView All

The dog for the stockman and how to choose him

Sheep dogs have been invaluable to stock farmers for many decades and even centuries. However, the dog must be able to work. This article explored the characteristics that a farmer should consider when choosing a sheep dog.

3 mins read
Farmer's Weekly
April 2, 2021

Steady, solid progress with free-range pigs

Start small and grow with the results. This is the principle followed by young pig farmer Jason Buys of Ocean View piggery in the Western Cape. Jeandré van der Walt visited him to learn more about his free-range pig operation and how he plans to grow his farming business.

5 mins read
Farmer's Weekly
April 2, 2021

Brucellosis

This disease can cause devastating production losses. For this reason, it is a controlled disease, which means that it must be reported to government veterinary services. It is also a zoonosis.

2 mins read
Farmer's Weekly
April 2, 2021

Feed Right For Your Type

For sustainable grassland management, farmers need to know whether they are farming on sweet- or sourveld, and should adapt their livestock management practices accordingly. Glenneis Kriel reports.

8 mins read
Farmer's Weekly
April 2, 2021

Starting An Essential Oils Enterprise From Scratch

After attending a farmers’ day in 2018, Oniccah and Naledi Nkoe decided to start farming herbal plants to produce essential oils. They have since expanded plantings and launched their own essential oils business. They spoke to Salome Modiselle and Sandile Mahlangu, researchers at the Agricultural Research Council.

4 mins read
Farmer's Weekly
April 2, 2021

Illegal Sand Mining Threatens Sugar Farmers

The sugar cane farms of 175 small-scale growers are hanging in the balance as illegal sand mining in the Middle-Komati River reaches catastrophic levels.

1 min read
Farmer's Weekly
April 2, 2021

Agriculture Alone Cannot Address The Youth Unemployment Crisis

Africa remains the youngest continent in the world, with almost 60% of its population under the age of 25.

3 mins read
Farmer's Weekly
April 2, 2021

Bidders Beware: Uptick In ‘Illegal' Auctions

With the introduction of the COVID-19-related lockdown came the unprecedented migration of auctions to online platforms as a means of selling everything from cars to office furniture.

1 min read
Farmer's Weekly
April 2, 2021

Unsustainable Farming A Threat To Water Supply

South Africa’s estuarine and wetland ecosystems provide important ecological functions such as the purification of water. Yet 99% and 88% of these ecosystems respectively are threatened. Prof Francois Durand of the Department of Zoology at the University of Johannesburg writes that farmers, who are the main water users in the country, have a crucial role to play when it comes to reversing this degradation.

5 mins read
Farmer's Weekly
April 2, 2021

Soil sampling basics

A soil sample should represent a homogeneous area where there are no visible soil differences.

1 min read
Farmer's Weekly
March 26, 2021