Choosing Afrikaners For Extensive Beef Production
Farmer's Weekly|June 5 & 12, 2020
Jacquies Steenkamp produced the 2019 Agricultural Research Council (ARC) Afrikaner National Performance Test Class bull. Mike Burgess visited him on his farm near Rouxville to see why he believes this indigenous breed is so well suited to extensive beef production in demanding areas.
Mike Burgess

“The Afrikaner is a low-input animal with good-quality beef. Herein lies the real value of the breed,” says Jacquies Steenkamp, who registered his Derus Afrikaner Stud in 1996.

Today, he runs 240 Afrikaner female animals, half of which are registered, in the Rouxville district in the southern Free State, where they produce weaners almost entirely off the veld.

Steenkamp is highly committed to the breed and enthuses about its potential. A council member of the Afrikaner Cattle Breeders’ Society of South Africa, he says the breed offers superb business opportunities for the extensive beef farmer.

For example, the society registered Afri Beef as a quality free-range brand with the then Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in 2016, and the brand won the People’s Choice Award at the 2019 African Livestock Trade Fair in Parys, Free State.

Steenkamp’s late father, Piet, ran a commercial Afrikaner herd near Vredefort in the Free State, and Steenkamp completed his BSc Agriculture, majoring in animal husbandry and genetics, at the University of the Free State in 1993. He, too, had become drawn to the breed by then, so after a few years in a mixed cropping/ livestock operation with his brother, André, in the Klerksdorp district of North West, he registered the Derus Afrikaner stud.

The foundation animals were from proven dam lines used by his father, while a process of genetic infusion using Bonsmaras helped him broaden diversity. Over the years, he sourced more Afrikaner bloodlines, including from the Cronjé and Ras families in Theunissen/Winburg and Hoopstad respectively.

In addition to his work on the stud, Steenkamp experimented with a European and an indigenous synthetic beef breed, comparing the performance of these breeds under the same conditions.

Unfortunately, rampant stock theft on his Klerksdorp farm-made running cattle too difficult, and in 2008 he bought the 1 680ha farm Tierhoek in the Free State district of Rouxville. Here, he expanded his Afrikaner herd and did away with the two other breeds, which had struggled to utilise all grazing on the rugged Tierhoek and cope with Karoo paralysis tick (Ixodes rubicundus) loads.

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