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Farming efficiently on communal land

Juhillin van Wyk grew up on a Northern Cape farm, and at the moment runs a flock of Dorper sheep on communal land close to Williston. He spoke to Wouter Kriel about what he has learnt so far, in addition to the significance of shopping for in rams with the traits to spice up flock fertility.

Farming successfully on communal land
Juhillin van Wyk spends many hours along with his animals.
Picture: Wouter Kriel

uhillin van Wyk grew up on Banksfontein farm within the Williston district of the Northern Cape, the place his grandfather as soon as labored.

“I’ve fond reminiscences of working alongside him over weekends and through faculty holidays. That’s the place I learnt about farming and grew to like animals,” he recollects.
Van Wyk was named the Williston Meat Co-operative Group Lamb Carcass Competitors winner in 2020, and bought 10 younger ewes on the Williston Younger Ewe Public sale in August 2021.

He took the massive step of beginning his personal farming enterprise in 2018 when he purchased 20 in-lamb Dorper ewes on the Williston Younger Ewe Public sale.

“I acquired married just lately and my spouse and I’ve began a household,” says Van Wyk. “My subsequent step is to purchase a home in Williston. The sheep are my try and create a legacy for my kids.

“At present, I don’t have any land of my very own, so the native commonage was the pure beginning place for me. To get entry to the Williston commonage, I needed to be part of the native new farmers’ organisation, Amandelboom Kleinboere. To do that, it’s good to personal no less than 10 animals and have [a unique tattoo on them.]’’

Van Wyk says all of the candidates for land have been proven a map of the commonage and the assorted camps accessible.

“I instantly noticed the potential in a camp straddling the Sak River simply outdoors of city. It has numerous pure fluitjiesriet (widespread reed), ganna bush and outdated man salt bush, so the carrying capability is greater than that of the encompassing camps. I don’t must feed the animals as extensively as among the different farmers within the space must, particularly with the extended drought of the previous few years.”

The camp is fenced, and there are water factors with JoJo tanks and wind pumps accessible. In alternate for the usage of the infrastructure, Van Wyk is chargeable for sustaining the tools.

Van Wyk makes use of ORV Skaap Wenstoet to situation his animals.

Farming on the commonage nonetheless has its challenges. “It’s near city, which suggests it’s good to watch your animals fastidiously so that they don’t disappear. I handle this by spending as a lot time as attainable with my animals. On this method, I can even shortly see if they’ve any well being issues and take care of them.

“We’re additionally subsequent to the municipal garbage dump website, and the wind blows numerous plastic into my camp. I’ve to maintain it clear to stop the animals from consuming issues that may hurt them.

“[Another problem is that] we get a three-year lease settlement, which could be very quick. I’d want no less than a five-year lease, so I could make higher long-term plans for my enterprise,” he says.

The 20 ewes Van Wyk purchased to begin his operation lambed and shortly grew to 40 animals, and in February 2019 he entered the Lamb Carcass Competitors on the Williston Meat Co-operation. This was additionally the 12 months he purchased his first ram.

“A ram is essential to the way forward for your flock, so it’s good to weigh up all of the totally different facets fastidiously throughout your buy determination,’’ he says.

He stresses the significance of trying on the animal’s body, and noting the scale and form of the scrotum, as this performs a key function in lambing numbers and the long run fertility of the flock. However equally necessary is the historic efficiency of the animal.

“It’s good to examine his [records] very fastidiously. You may’t see from a bodily inspection whether or not a ram [is fertile], however you possibly can be taught lots from his historic efficiency.”
One other function that Van Wyk appears for in a ram is the form of his hindquarters.

“The ram ought to have the right posture for mounting a ewe. If he can’t mount simply, it means he has weak hindlimbs. I take note of this, because it’s simple to establish and means that you can eradicate potential issues with mating proper from the beginning.”

Van Wyk provides {that a} ram ought to have a sound medical historical past and customarily be in good situation. And as soon as a farmer has purchased a ram, it’s necessary to take care of him properly.

Van Wyk says he plans to buy one other ram in 2022. “As my flock grows, it turns into necessary to have the right ram-to-ewe ratio. I presently have 55 ewes, and consider one of the best ratio is 25 ewes to a ram. A ram prices me about R6 000, though the identical animal may very well be costlier at an public sale.”

Van Wyk says he’ll deal immediately with a breeder to get one of the best ram for one of the best value. Van Wyk stresses {that a} farmer who needs to breed lambs must plan and handle the animals actively; it’s no good leaving them and hoping for one of the best. He permits the ram to be with the ewes for 3 weeks, after which he removes it and checks the ewes for being pregnant.

“It’s necessary for ewes, particularly younger ones, to have ample time to get better from the ram’s consideration, and likewise to get used to the ram. I discover that if the younger ewes are too pressured by his presence, [they tend to abort more easily]. On the similar time, the ram additionally wants time to get better and rebuild his situation earlier than being positioned with the ewes for mating.’’

Van Wyk provides his ewes two merchandise: Ram Lamb en Ewe concentrated feed pellets, to assist with milk manufacturing, and ORV Lactating (in small portions), to assist guarantee good milk high quality.

He separates in-lamb ewes from the flock and pays particular consideration to them. The ram is then reintroduced to the open ewes.

Van Wyk doesn’t instantly cull ewes that fail to conceive, as there are various the reason why this may very well be the case. If he does cull ewes, he makes use of the cash to purchase extra inventory.

Inevitably, the extreme drought within the space has affected him, however he manages the state of affairs with a feed combination of lucerne, maize, chaff and molasses meal, along with RumiStim feed cake as a complement, which helps stop bloat.

“The fluitjiesriet, ganna bush and salt bush in my river camp assist lots. Some farmers plant salt bush, however in my camp it grows naturally.”

Van Wyk says he’s lucky in that he wants to offer solely a bit feed; the sheep get all their extra vitamin from the veld. This has helped him farm profitably. As well as, he and the opposite commonage farmers additionally obtain periodic feed donations, which assist to cut back prices.

Extra success bekons
Van Wyk says his secret to performing properly on the Lamb Carcass Competitors was lamb choice and the feed offered within the months earlier than the competitors.

“About 4 months earlier than the occasion, I chosen 10 lambs and remoted them from the flock right into a separate camp. I ultimately entered one of the best 4. I dosed them with Ralgro, which regulates the meat-to-fat ratio in lambs. There must be simply sufficient fats, however not an excessive amount of. Then I fed them ORV Skaap Wenstoet. It’s usually a conditioning product for rams, however for me it really works very properly on lambs.”

Van Wyk says any younger one that needs to farm ought to merely go for it.

“You should be ready to be taught, and keep in mind it’s one thing that takes numerous time. The extra you give of your self, the extra you’ll be rewarded. I took a leap of religion once I purchased my first 20 ewes, however the Carcass Competitors and the Younger Ewe Public sale confirmed me that I’m on target to turn into a profitable farmer.”

E-mail Juhillin van Wyk at [email protected], or cellphone him on 060 350 0406.



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