Breeding world champion Charolais
Farmer's Weekly|May 07, 2021
When his cattle business was hit hard by drought, fifth-generation North West farmer Loutjie Campher started breeding Charolais as a means of rebuilding his herd. He spoke to Pieter Dempsey about his stud.
Pieter Dempsey

Loutjie Campher runs a diverse farming business on his farms Roodekop, Kaalfontein and Vlakfontein near Ventersdorp in North West. A few years ago, following severe drought in the province that forced him to sell most of his commercial cattle, Campher saw an opportunity to restore this part of his operation by breeding Charolais. This led to the establishment in 2016 of the Loumotta Charolais stud, which has since produced two champions at the Charolais Champion of the World competition.

“When we wanted to rebuild our cattle numbers after the drought, one of the top Charolais herds in the country, the Riccor herd, came onto the market. We selected some of these female animals as the foundation of our stud herd,” says Campher.

Apart from the Charolais stud, he runs an Angus stud, a commercial cattle herd and a Mutton Merino flock, and produces maize.

BREEDING

Historically, Campher says, Charolais female animals had a reputation for calving problems, but this was resolved through selective breeding.

“The Charolais has a medium frame, but is still efficient. Female animals have more than enough milk and can produce calves that achieve good weaning weights, even with relatively low birthweights.” For breeding, he focuses on dam lines and efficient female animals that can raise calves successfully. “Once I’ve identified a highly efficient cow, I keep that dam line in the stud, and focus on breeding with those genetics.”

He says the breed performs well in crossbreeding and, due to hybrid vigour, the use of Charolais genetics in commercial crossbred herds helps achieve higher weaning weights.

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