The Year, 2017, was marked by the selling of a Dohne Merino ram at the all-time record price of R220 000. All ram sales went very well, and the overall sales average were, for the first time, more than R10 000. The success of our breeders is remarkable in the wake of the generally negative farming and economic conditions.
The main reason for such an exceptionally successful year, may largely be ascribed to the marketing efforts by our breeders. We also acknowledge the contribution of all woolled sheep advisors that, supported our breeders in such an able manner. Despite adverse farming conditions, product prices favored the positioning of the Dohne Merino breed. Considering all these major contributing factors, only animals with proven merit, can compete in this increasingly competitive ram market. The Dohne Merino is at the forefront of scientifically advanced genetic improvement and meticulous performance recording of all registered Dohne Merinos, is the foundation of the current demand for breeding material. The report on activities of the breed during 2017 therefore serves as measure of our breeders’ effectiveness regarding scientific breed improvement.
Against the back drop of the demand for Dohne Merino rams, our breeders are encouraged to maintain the highest possible quality standards at all levels in their studs. It is the character of our breeders that will ensure the continued stature and international success of the breed.
2 Membership and flock size
Membership of the breed declined by 8 members to a membership of 90 in 2017. Accordingly, ewe numbers registered declined by 8 814 to a total of 33 704. The decrease in number of studs may be ascribed to a few studs not achieving satisfactory financial results at selling rams, leaving the stud industry. Apparently, these breeders are continuing to farm with Dohne merinos and still support the stud industry. It is trusted that these breeders will find a way to ‘rejoin the ranks in future’. Breeding stud sheep in an organized manner, to provide the best possible adapted rams for your own commercial flock, remains a major motivation to the individual stud breeder.
Table 1 indicate the sad loss of one of our honorary members, Prof Gert Erasmus. Prof Erasmus was one of the “architects” of the breed, and his loss leaves an “empty space” that will be difficult to fill.
According to Table 2, stud breeders decreased the size of their studs (only 39 studs with more than 300 ewes) to increase the supply of rams to clients. The increased lambing percentage still indicate high selection intensity and a steady supply of superior rams to the commercial industry.
Table / Tabel 1 : Membership and population size Lidmaatskap en populasie grootte
|NO RECORDED EWES||26,866||27,036||29,587||29,259||30,630||30,572||33,547||32,906||42,517||33,704|
The decrease in the number of larger studs (300 or more ewes, possibly the result of economic decisions during a tough time, is to be regretted. Genetic theory proved that using numbers of stud sires (at least 8 or more) is necessary to counteract the effect of inbreeding.
Table / Tabel 2 Analysis of stud size – Ontleding van stoetgrootte
|Studs with 300 or more ewes||37||37||45||45||40||43||48||46||54||39|
|Stoeterye met tussen 200 en 299 ooie||20||20||9||9||15||14||12||15||12||22|
|Studs with between 100 and 199 ewes||16||16||20||20||21||15||9||9||10||8|
|Stoeterye met tussen 50 en 99 ooie||10||10||8||7||5||7||7||6||8||9|
|Studs with less than 50 ewes||9||9||6||5||8||10||7||8||13||12|
|Active breeders/Aktiewe telers||92||92||88||86||89||89||83||84||98||90|
Selection in the largest possible population is basic to the acceleration of genetic change. Estimating breeding values accurately by means of advanced statistical and other methods, assist in achieving higher rates of change in smaller populations. However, the combination of accurate information and numbers of animals, deliver the best results. One recommendation to cut the cost of stud breeding, is to save on additional feeding of stud animals
The challenge posed by the availability of accurate breeding values, is “not to put your eggs in one basket” but instead to maintain genetic diversity by identifying enough numbers of unrelated superior sires, which are well adapted to prevailing commercial conditions.
According to figure 1, the distribution of Dohne Merinos per region in 2017 remained the same as for 2016. Region 6 (Eastern Free State and KZN) has the largest number of stud Dohne Merinos ewes and region 4 (Western Cape and Western Karoo) remain the smallest.
3 Lambing percentage
Surprisingly, the lambing percentage for all studs in 2016 was 144% compared to 138% in 2015. The higher lambing percentage, despite drought conditions continuing, may be, contrary to all expectations, the result of improved management and feeding. Breeders are financially dependent on continuous supply of quality genetic material to the commercial industry. They can therefore be congratulated for successfully pursuing this objective despite difficult farming conditions
Table 3 Lambing percentage of stud Dohne Merino ewes
4 Inspections & selection intensity
Table 4 indicates the number of sheep approved, expressed as a percentage of the number of lambs present at final inspection (12 months). According to the figures in Table 4 the high standard of particularly ram selection was maintained for 2016. This excellent result indicates that Dohne Merino breeders maintained the high standard set regarding breeding material for sale.
Table/Tabel 4 Number of sheep approved and selection intensity/Getal skape goedgekeur en seleksie intensiteit
|Lamb crop/ Lammeroes||2008||2009||2010||2011||2012||2013||2014||2015||2016|
A total of 7629 F3 ewes were inspected during 2016 and 552 (7.2 percent) were approved. During 2015, in comparison 6.8 percent were approved. The total number of 1560 ewes more inspected than in 2015, is encouraging. The number of ”upgrading studs” entering the system declined. Statistically more of our established breeders made use of the upgrading system to introduce hardiness and adaptability by means of this effective filter
Table/Tabel 5 Number of F3-ewes inspected/Getal F3-ooie geinspekteer
5 Sales of breeding material
The total number of rams 2,603 rams sold during 2017 at an average price of R11 067 resulted in an unexpectedly high turnover of R28,807,401. The total number of rams sold however, remains 171 rams sold less than the mark set in 2014. The average price for 2017 is 20.7 percent higher than for 2016. The trend of selling less rams at higher prices therefore continues for several years now (Table 6). Table 6 also proves that the breeders who left the society, had no influence on official public ram sales. The commercial industry increasingly applies techniques to accelerate reproduction rate such as AI, laparoscopy and even embryo transplants. Progressive commercial farmers are therefore prepared to pay higher prices for top genetic material to use in these programs. The danger of these practices may of course be that the effective population size may decline. The long-term results if not acting pro-active, may be reduced genetic variation and increased levels of inbreeding. Dohne Merino breeders therefore have a responsibility to advise their clients on how to avoid these possible disadvantages. Breeders also need to carefully consider the numbers of rams sold compared to higher average prices. From a marketing point of view, it is essential to balance supply and demand. However, the Dohne Merino brand is associated with quality rams which are commercially adapted. Stud breeders who are not overfeeding their animals and perform basic scientific selection in the prescribed manner, can be rest assured that their animals, at market related prices, will stay in demand.
Table/Tabel 6: Sales – 2016 - Veilings
|No of public sales||49||51||52||49||48||48||44||45|
|No of rams sold||2.438||2.757||2.747||2.707||2774||2718||2524||2603|
|No of ewes transf||247||495||229||294||396||929||482||366|
6 Technical matters
6.1 Production recording
Approximately the same number of animals were tested in 2016 compared to 2015 (0.001% less). The total number of animals evaluated at 100 days declined by 12.6 percent in accordance with the decline in number of ewes. The fact that the same number of progeny were classed from less registered ewes serves as proof of more efficient farming by all Dohne Merino breeders. The proportion of animals culled between 100 days and final testing (18.52%) is in line with the society’s guideline to avoid possible biased final evaluation. It remains a worrying aspect that some breeders lag behind in following timeous recording procedures. Breeders that supply data shortly before results are needed jeopardize the accuracy of other breeders’ evaluations as well as the availability of updated sire lists.
Table/Tabel 7 Average production values of Dohne Merinos/Gemiddelde produksiewaardes
|No Animals 100days/||3.943||4.961||7.118||8.901||16.489||13.519||17.05||16.753||17.2||18867||16511|
|Getal diere 100 dae||13.483||16.067||17.066||17.3||18730||16340|
|No Animals at 12 Mths./||20.097||20.809||20.463||21.776||21.318||11.518||14.115||12.544||13.35||14.379||15.057|
|Getal diere 12 mde.||10.878||12.268||12.123||12.073||12.416||11.71|
|Clean Fleece weight/||3.08||3.08||3.08||3.08||3.09||2.79||2.81||2.62||2.66||3.03||3.02|
6.2 Other technical matters
The first stage of the upgrading of the office computing system is complete and the new system proved invaluable to improve on the integrity of our data base. Phase 2 programming was started to realise submitting production data directly to the breed society.
7 Top Breeder awards Congratulations to the National Top breeder - Mr. Clark Rattray (Pleasant View Dohnes)
Clark Rattray provides top breeding material to the industry and is the driving force behind the breed promotion projects in KZN. The Dohne Merino Breed Society thank our sponsors – Virbac, BKB and Voermol who over many years make this prestigious event possible.
8.1 Annual General Meeting
After appropriate election of councilors, the following council was appointed: Koos Vosloo (president), Philippie Marais (vice-president), HW (Manie) Botha, Andries Greyling, Marcellene van Rooyen, Clark Rattray, DH (Boeta) Wessels, JH (Koenas) van der Westhuizen and Richard Armstrong.
The Breed Society’s finances were sound. Provision in the budget was made for the on-going maintenance program to upgrade the property in Stutterheim. The proposed attendance of the World Dohne Merino Conference in South America by the president and manager will also be provided for by the Society’s reserve fund.
8.3 Per capita fee
It was decided to increase the per capita fee by R1-00 to R18-50 to provide for better marketing of the breed.
8.4 Courses and Promotion
The society ‘s regular courses were very well attended, and the Grootfontein College of Agriculture’s information sessions were attended by 72 students. Congratulations to the officials that passed the Society’s inspectors course.
The exhibition at the Alpha expo as well as at the Aldam sheep school and Agri Mega week provided excellent exposure to the breed.
Outstanding service was provided by office personnel consisting of three employees and two temporary workers
9 Acknowledgements and thanks
The support of all the various organizations in the woolled sheep industry, including too many persons to list by name, who were responsible for the success achieved by the Dohne Merino Breed Society acknowledged with special gratitude. A special word of thanks also to all our sponsors, breeders and inspectors who are vital to the positioning of the breed in the small stock industry.
The Year, 2017, was marked by the selling of a Dohne Merino ram at the all-time record price of R220 000. All ram sales went very well, and the overall sales average were, for the first time, more than ......
The Dohne Merino Breed Society says farewell to Cameron McMaster -
James Cameron McMaster Passed away on the 25th November 2018 at the age of 81 Years. The Dohne Merino breed Society’s deepest sypathy goes to Rhoda (wife) children – Susan, Graeme, James, Stephen and next of kin. Cameron as known by the small Stock Industry and in fact almost all farmers here and abroad, lived a life of passion for the Dohne Merino. Two memorial services will take place in his commemoration – Tuesday 4 Dec, 11:00, Cathcart and on the 8th of Dec, 10:00 at the Dutch Reformed church, Napier, where he lived.
Cameron McMaster grew up on a farm close to Cathcart where he developed his passion for sheep. This passion becomes clear when reading his auto-biography – “sheep in my blood” published in 2010. After this he also wrote another book – “ birth of a Breed – The Dohne Merino story” published in 2015 to commemorate 75 years of existence of the Dohne Merino.
Cameron McMaster’s official involvememt in the Dohne Merino breed Society, spans accoss three decades from 1970 to the year 2000. However, Cameron became aware of the Dohne Merino as a Junior wool seller, working at FCU, East London way back in the 1950’s already. He was at that stage introduced to Mr. Koot Kotze, founder of the breed. He became involved in organising flock competitions of the NWGA in the area around the Dohne Research station long before he was appointed as the second manager of the breed society in 1970. From scratch, he had no choice but to follow the principles of scientific animal breeding after his mindset was changed by the likes of Koot Kotze, Barnie Barnard, Cecil Petit and Gert Erasmus. Incidentally Cameron was involved in organising the inaugural meeting of the Dohne Merino breed Society on the 31st May 1966.
Photo L/R: JC McMaster, J Torr, G Erasmus, L Higgs and H Prinsloo at the meeting leading to the Amalgamation of the Dohne Merino Breed Society and the Walrich Breed Society - One of the milestones in Cameron McMasters career.
Cameron’s work included the introduction of breeders to woolled sheep performance testing and thereafter compulsory application there-of. He educated himself with the help of his mentors in population genetics and introduced the concept of group breeding to the Dohne Merino breeders. He was also responsible for the computerization of the Breed Society’s records during the 1970’s and 1980’s. Towards the end of his career at the Dohne Merino breed Society he reapt the fruit of developing this complete animal recording system. Not only did ewe records assist in breeding sheep sought after in Australia, but complete pedigrees together with perfomance records resulted in the implementation of sire referencing and later breeding value evaluation. Cameron off-course experienced the era of antagonism between traditional Merino breeders and scientific animal evaluation procedures. Several debates as well as comical sketches about Dohne Merinos and Cameron appeared in the agricultural press.
It is amazing that his passion largely contributed to the internationalisation of the breed when embryos could be exported circa 2000.
After Cameron’s retirement he continued his work to promote the Dohne Merino on an international level. He held Dohne Merino workshops on a regular basis in Australia and later in South America. His enthusiasm at these occasions led to the founding of many studs in these countries. He regarded the Dohne Merino as part and parcel of the Merino family and presented papers on various scientifically orientated topics at Merino conferences in South Africa and abroad. In the process he befriended many animal scientists and breeders across the world.
Cameron’s passion was not restricted to Dohne Merino breeding. Once he financed an overseas visit by selling part of his butterfly collection. In fact, he had some species of butterflies and indigenous flowers named after him and his research. He exported indigenous plants as hobby and undertook botanical tours especially to the Eastern Cape.
Cameron received many awards during his distuingished career. Some included the Agricultural writers award as Agricultural personality of the year, the Sheep and Wool Expert society’s Sheep and Wool advisor of the year, Grootfontein Old Students award and lately Honorary life Membership of the Australian Dohne Merino breed Society.
The passing away of Cameron McMaster will surely leave an empty space but the legacy of this past manager and honorary life member of the Dohne Merino Breed Society, will stay alive for generations to come
The Dohne Merino Breed Society says farewell to Cameron McMaster - James Cameron McMaster Passed away on the 25th November 2018 at the age of .......
Clark Rattray held his Pleasant View Dohne Merino stud's annual production sale on the 24th of August at the Swartberg sales complex. A potential new young Dohne Merino stud breeder - Jean du Plessis, who already bought 20 registered Dohne ewes, paid the top price of R40 000 for an excellent Pleasant View Dohne Merino ram. A total of 67 rams were sold at the average price of R15186. The sale was marked by the attendance of teachers and pupils of Weston Agricultural College and their purchase of a ram for their stud in its infancy. Clark incedentally also advise them on aspects of management and breeding.
Photo: The ram of Clark Rattray sold to new Dohne Merino breeder Jean du Plessis, Flicwick ranch also in the Swartberg district.
Clark Rattray held his Pleasant View Dohne Merino stud's annual production sale on the 24th of August at the Swartberg sales complex. A potential new young Dohne Merino stud breeder - Jean ........
Production sale, were all sold for the average price of R13 905. Mr. Schalk Meintjies from Fort Mistake bought the highest priced ram at R34 000. Young two tooth ewes, ready for the ram were all sold for between R3 100 and R3300. Ewes with lambs were also all sold at prices varying between R4000 and R4 250.
Photo L/R: Back - Stoffel Mouton(BKB), Jan Mostert(Auctioneer, BKB, Frankfort), Julius Beukes(Seller, Bessiesfontein Dohnes), Schalk Meintjes (Buyer, Fort Mistake); Front Wynand Lens(BKB, holding the ram), Xander de Jager(BKB),S.W. Meintjes(Buyer)
Bessiesfontein Dohnes' production sale concluded the Spring sales season for Dohne Merinos on a high note. The sale took place on 17 October 2018 on Mr. Julius Beukes's farm and the 58 rams on offer on this 10th .....
Koenas van der d Westhuizen, owner of the Towerland Dohne Merino stud held his 18th production sale on Tuesday, 11th September. A total of 55 top Dohne Merino rams were offered at Mr. Van Der Westhuizen's farm, Toorkop, and sold at the average price of R15 318 . Mr. Isak Smit, Piket Dohnes, bought the Top priced ram at R85 000.
Photo L/R: Koenas vd Westhuizen (Seller, Towerland Dohnes), Isak Smit (Buyer, Piket Dohnes), Thinus van Schalkwyk (BKB), Leon Strauss (BKB), Appie Maritz (Auctioneer, BKB, Paarl)
Koenas van der d Westhuizen, owner of the Towerland Dohne Merino stud held his 18th production sale on Tuesday, 11th September. A total of 55 top Dohne Merino rams were offered at Mr. Van Der Westhuizen's farm, Toorkop, and sold at the average price ......
GWK staged Kouga Dohnes' annual production sale on the 11th of September in Humansdorp. Mr Henri Du Plessis and his son sold 79 excellent Dohne Merino rams at an average price of R12 670. The highest price of R18000 was paid by Mr Daantjie Strydom, also from Humansdorp.
Photo L/R: Reynier Zietsman (Auctioneer, GWK, Humansdorp), Henry and Stephan du Plessis (Sellers, Kouga Dohnes), Daantjie Strydom (buyer, Lex Gutsche Investments, Grasmere, Humansdorp), Front: Desmond Bambi (Handler).
GWK staged Kouga Dohnes' annual production sale on the 11th of September in Humansdorp. Mr Henri Du Plessis and his son sold 79 excellent Dohne Merino rams at an average price of .....