Breeding For Efficiency Adds Value For This Cattle Farmer
Farmer's Weekly|May 14, 2021
Anneri Otto, who farms near Coligny in North West, never planned on becoming a farmer. However, when unfortunate circumstances forced her to take charge of her husband’s operation, she rose to the challenge, and now produces Hereford and Angus cattle, as well as pecan nuts. Pieter Dempsey reports.
Pieter Dempsey

Anneri Otto, who runs a diverse operation on the farm Oppaslaagte near Coligny, North West, became a farmer out of necessity. She didn’t grow up on a farm and had little knowledge of farming, but when her husband, Derik, passed away in 2003, Otto had to quickly learn how to manage the business on her own.

Derik mainly farmed grain until around 1994, when he started the Mooifontein Hereford stud with 30 heifers. The farm later expanded with the Hot Angus stud and, more recently, Otto decided to diversify with the addition of pecan nuts.

“When I look back now, I realise I would never have made it [to where I am] without the help and knowledge shared by other farmers in our community,” she says.

These days the farm no longer produces grain. About half of the 900ha of arable land is rented out, while the remainder is planted to teff and Smuts finger grass, which produce about eight months’ worth of grazing for the herds. Otto also has access to neighbouring land, where the cattle graze on maize stover from July to October, after which they are moved to planted pastures. A stocking rate of around 6ha/1 LSU is maintained.

A few years ago, Otto decided to introduce a more intensive grazing management strategy. The camps on the farm have been made smaller, and there are now 14 with natural grazing and six planted with the teff and Smuts finger grass. She rotates the cattle between the planted pastures and natural grazing to allow time to bale hay on the former, but allows the veld as much time to rest as possible.

The grazing management programme does not follow a rigorous time schedule; it is rather based on visual assessment of the state of the veld, according to which cattle are moved as needed.

SUCCESSFUL STUD PRODUCTION

Otto made up her mind long ago to continue breeding with the Hereford stud her husband started. “Herefords are docile, so they’re easier to manage than some other breeds, and they also suffer fewer injuries,” she explains. Basic tasks such as dipping, vaccinating and weighing cattle are also completed with minimal risk to staff.

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