Recently a number of experts in the field of Dohne Merino farming passed away. It is with sadness that the Dohne Merino comunity and the livestock industry at large, took notice of the passing away of Mr. Hendrik van Pletzen on the 7th of January 2019 after a long sickbed. Hendrik van Pletzen will be remembered for an extremely successful career in the field of Farming. His field of expertise centered on animal nutrition and lately he was stationed at Bloemfontein in service of Voermol. Hendrik's interest in animal improvement stretched much further and from the beginning of his career he was instrumental in training small stock breeders in the use of measurement as the basis of improving all aspects of livestock farming. He was a member of the technical committee of Merino SA and recently received honorary membership of the Merino Breed Society. Hendrik was also involved in the scientific improvement of the van Pletzen family's Merino stud in the Jamestown district. The Dohne Merino Breed Society which had a close relationship with Hendrik, extend its condolences to Hendrik van Pletzens wife, children, family and friends.
Recently a number of experts in the field of Dohne Merino farming passed away. It is with sadness that the Dohne Merino comunity and the livestock industry at large, took notice of the passing away of Mr. Hendrik van Pletzen on the ......
Please note the following changes to, and detail of events on the Dohne Merino calender for 2019:
- The Swarco sale of Michael Swart and his team was changed to take place on the 12th of June at Caledon in conjuntion with the Caledon Veetelers Sale. It is trusted that this change will be to the benefit of the Swarco stud and its cliënts. Michael Swart was incidentally involved in the founding and development of the Caledon veetelers sale and with the quality of the Swarco rams on the 2019 sale, it promises to be a special occasion!
- Take note that the Breed Society's main course for breeders and inspectors will take place at the Dohne office, Stutterheim from the 27th of February to the 1st of March 2019. We encourage all new members of the society to attend the course in order to become familiar with the necessary society procedures to be followed. The practical part of the course is of particular importance for breeders and ram buyers alike to empower themselves with the latest tools to combine information on measured traits together with visually appraised traits when breeding Dohne Merinos. The Practical sessions will be performed at Mr. Richard Armstrong's stud in the Cathcart district. Apart from the course fee of R700, own transport from Stutterheim will be required. Please make your booking to provide for course material and catering.
- The newly established Trinity Dohne Merino stud (founded two years back when Jaco Burger and his Father, Johan Burger, split up) will be staging its first sale on the 28th of January. The sale will take place on Jaco's farm in the district of Wepener. It is contemplated that between 30 and 40 rams will be available.
- The Charlton stud of Mrrs. Phillip and Dix Erasmus will hold its first production sale for 2019 on the 15th of February. This stud provide excellent veld-adapted rams to the industry (Absolutely no artificial feeding or preparation before the sale). These rams can be aquired on basis of their true breeding values under veld conditions!
- At the start of 2019, we became aware that Voermol, one of the main sponsors of the Dohne Merino Breed Society, was awarded with six PMR Africa Diamond awards. Well done and a great thank you to this main sponsor of Dohne Merinos!
- Please note that the National sale result for the Pleasant view stud of Mr. Clark Rattray was erroneously omitted from the National sale ranking on page 57 of the 2018 Dohne Merino Journal. The result for Mr. Rattray, is that he sold four rams at an average price of R45500. The Pleasant View stud should therefore be listed in the sixth place after the Weska stud of Mr DH Wessels.
Some changes in the Sales diary for Dohne Merinos materialised after publication of the 2018 Dohne Merino Journal. Course announcement and other errata may also be found in this writing. Please take note by reading more......
After the awards to Small Stock Breeders at the Alpha Expo, Dr Japie van der Westhuizen, Manager, SA Studbook, explained the motivation and nature of these awards, also for the purpose of the awards ceremony at Swellendam, in the following paragraphs .
SA Studbook award Stock farmers recording economically important traits and using the information efficiently, since 2012. Beef cattle and Dairy Farmers are using these ELITE awards to measure themselves against their fellow breeders. Studbook also awarded the so-called “Top 10”, awards to small stock breeders in the past, but the Bronze, Silver and Golden awards were allocated only from 2018/2019.
At the Alpha Expo, more than 160 small stock breeders and interested persons attended the Studbook ELITE awards - breakfast. At that occasion, Professor Donagh Berry, Ireland, addressed the meeting on new developments in small stock breeding. At the Swellendam meeting efficient recording of data and use of information to accelerate genetic change was once again discussed and the following criteria used to make these awards were explained:
- Completeness of recording and practices followed.
- Reproduction performance of the flock.
- Genetic level of the flock.
SA Studbook is in charge of the genetic evaluations of all small stock breeds and already developed comprehensive new selection-indexes on basis of each breed's collective breeding objectives. The genetic levels of all flocks can therefore be estimated within the context of each breed.
Using the criteria above 850 flocks in South Africa and Namibia were considered for the following awards:
- ELITE BRONZE – Top 21% tot 30% (84) flocks
- ELITE SILVER – Top 11% tot 20% (84) flocks
- ELITE GOLD – Top 10% (74) flocks
- ELITE DOUBLE GOLD – Top 10 flocks.
The ELITE DOUBLE GOLD flocks will be considered to be awarded as the ELITE PLATINUM flock and eventually as winner of the ELITE NATIONAL SMALL STOCK FLOCK award. Platinum awards will be made at Studbook's ELITE Gala Award ceremony on the 29th April 2019 in Bloemfontein.
The ELITE awards offer an ideal opportunity to evaluate their recording, management and breeding practices to those of other breeders according to Dr. Japie van der Westhuizen.
The Dohne Merino Breed Society congratulate the following breeders that received awards at the Swellendam award ceremony on the 5th December 2018:
Bester Brs, J.L De Klerk, S.P.G Mouton, M Van Rooyen, L.L Basson, PP Mong Trust, D De W Giliomee, GM Loubser Farming, MJ Slabber Farms, J.J and JHL Van Der Westhuizen.
Weska Dohnes, Wydgelegen Farming, Swartrivier Estate, Corsando Dohne Merino Stud, Judo Trust, University of Stellenbosch, Fanie Basson & Son, Du Toit - Die Kop-Trust, Joubert Farming, Riversdal.
Please read the 2018 Dohne Merino Journal for details on Dohne Merino Breeders receiving these awards at the Alpha Expo.
Photo : Receivers of Studbook Silver Medals at the Swellendam Awards Ceremony
Photo : Receivers of Studbook Bronze Medals at the Swellendam Awards Ceremony
At SA Studbook's Award Ceremony, Swellendam, a total of 19 Dohne Merino breeders received awards. To be informed of the nature of these awards as well as photos of the winners receiving their awards at Swellendam, please read more ........
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|
|Studs With Between 200 And 299 Ewes||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|
|Studs With Between 50 And 99 Ewes||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|
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
|Ewes||5771 (55%)||5994 (55%)||5389 (53%)||5933 (54%)||7435 (57%)||7804 (55%)||8717 (57%)||8069 (47%)||6658 (47%)|
|Rams||5537 (49%)||5380 (48%)||5212 (48%)||5544 (48%)||6360 (50%)||7199 (48%)||6518 (48%)||6460 (39%)||5418 (39%)|
|Aa Rams||2193 (20%)||2195 (20.5%)||2161 (19%)||2303 (19%)||2727 (20%)||2892 (17%)||2896 (17%)||2866 (16%)||2496 (16%)|
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 Public Sales||49||51||52||49||48||48||44||45|
|No Rams Sold||2,438||2,757||2,747||2,707||2,774||2,718||2,524||2,603|
|No Ewes Transferred||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 100 Days||3,943||4,961||7,118||8,901||16,489||13,519 |
|Weaning Weight (Kg)||29,76||28,90||27,86||28,14||29,76||29,87 |
|No Animals 12 Mts||20,097||20,809||20,463||21,776||21,318||11,518 |
|Body Weight (Kg)||58,27||60,11||61,17||59,75||60,75||45,80 |
|Clean Fleece Weight (Kg)||3,08||3,08||3,08||3,08||3,09||2,79 |
|Fibre Diameter (µ)||18,69||18,69||18,59||18,48||18,40||17,90 |
|WPP %||5,29||5,12||5,04||5,15||5,09||6,09 |
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 ........