The Boer goat mentor who's changing lives
Farmer's Weekly|April 23, 2021
Stud Boer goat breeder Desré Ferreira from Vryburg in North West provides a valuable support network to developing and commercial Boer goat farmers. She started mentoring a group of about 30 farmers a decade ago, and now supports 150. Annelie Coleman reports.
Annelie Coleman

Vryburg-based farmer Desré Ferreira bought her first 25 Boer goat ewes and a ram in 1996, and these formed the nucleus of her Molopo Boer Goat Stud.

“I had to generate an income for myself and decided on stud breeding because of the added value this type of farming business offers,” recalls Ferreira. “It costs virtually the same to raise a commercial animal as a stud animal, but the return on investment is higher. And that’s the objective of my mentoring programme: I want to help the breeders in my group become commercial goat breeders and eventually even stud breeders.”

This involves showing them how to run their herds in a sustainable and profitable manner.

“The proper management of a goat flock is an intricate affair, and breeders need leadership and information to manage their herds cost-effectively in the long term,” she says. “This calls for a multidimensional approach that covers all aspects of practical goat breeding, from animal husbandry and health to nutrition and economics.”

Ferreira sees herself first and foremost as a ram breeder. But selling rams doesn’t only mean money in her pocket; she tries to keep track of each animal’s performance after she has sold it.

A breeding ram is, by far, the most expensive animal in a flock of goats, and it is important to obtain as much worth as possible from it, she says.

THE MAKING OF A MENTOR

Ferreira’s initial contact with buyers made her realise the need for a support network for new Boer goat farmers, so she compiled a management manual based on the difficulties experienced by the Boer goat farmers she had mentored.

Her aim was to address as many of the issues as possible in an uncomplicated, practical way.

“Over and above helping them to improve their herds, my aim was to teach these farmers to think of their concerns as businesses that need to generate a profit to survive, especially as far as the rams are concerned.”

Ferreira says she also had to go through a steep learning curve when she started stud breeding. Animal health, for example, is always a major challenge, and many farmers new to the business do not understand the importance of sound animal health management practices.

For this reason, Ferreira teaches her mentees the crucial role of sound animal selection and the importance of a health protocol.

“The rams earmarked for the extensive conditions in the areas where most of these farmers live should be robust and adaptable,” she says.

ANIMAL HEALTH

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