Auldrich Spies grew up attending shows where his grandfather exhibited his prized Brahmans and instilled a love for the breed in his grandson. But health reasons saw him selling his herd before Spies could farm himself.
Spies then followed a career in construction, which, five years ago, enabled him to buy land in the Barberton area. With a photograph of his grandfather’s prized Brahman bull in hand, he set out to stock his farm.
A FORTUNATE PHONE CALL
“I struggled to find cattle initially,” he recalls. “Some farmers wouldn’t sell to me or didn’t even return my phone calls. I eventually googled ‘heartwater Brahmans’, as the cattle needed to be heartwater-resistant for the Barberton area. I came across a farmer in Letsitele, phoned him and told him I wanted 10 cows and a bull. I asked if he could help me.
“There followed a long silence. I asked him if he’d heard me. He asked if I was planning on farming commercially or starting a stud farm. I said, well, my grandfather had stud cattle and I had a photo of what his bull looked like. Could he please help me with cattle that looked like the bull in the photo?
“Again, there was silence. Was I saying something wrong? The farmer then started peppering me with questions. Do you want older animals? Younger animals? From which bloodlines do you want to buy? “I said I didn’t know what he meant by ‘bloodlines’; I just wanted a bull that looked like my grandfather’s, and 10 cows. So he said I’d better pay him a visit.”
When Spies arrived on the farm in Letsitele, a whole new world opened up to him.
“I didn’t know who Llewellyn Labuschagne was at that stage. I just found him on Google. When I arrived on his farm it was clear he wasn’t just another stud farmer.
“Llewellyn is one of the best cattle farmers in the country, and his R10 Brahmans are some of the most sought after in the industry, fetching top dollar at auctions.”
Spies credits Labuschagne with much of his success. “He taught me to look beyond the ‘picture’ of the Brahman I wanted and focus on crucial traits like hooves, constitution, skeletal issues, mouth structure and a range of other characteristics when choosing an animal.”
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