Weston school of agriculture, Mooi River, KZN, won the Zoetis Dohne Merino person of the year trophy for 2022. Me. Hannelie le Roux who is in charge of small stock at the school as well as Mr. Pierre van Rensburg, acting principal of the school attended the Dohne Merino AGM and OVK pre-sale function for the handing over of this prestigious award.
The motivation for receiving the award was most impressive and stems from the initial donation of a few Dohne Merino ewes by members of the breed society to the school. This small start proved to be highly productive to both the school and the breed society. The complete motivation for making this year’s award to the Weston school, was as follows:
In 2017, five Dohne Merino breeders from KZN and the Free State participated in a project initiated by Dr Kobus Delporr , manager of the Dohne Merino breed society. The object was to establish a Dohne Merino flock at Weston Agricultural College in the KZN Midlands to properly train learners.
Six breeders, Mr. Clark Rattray, Mr. Julius Beukes, Mr. Andries Greyling, Mr. Freddy Schmidt, Mr. Danie Bruwer and Mr. Johannes Boshoff, donated ewes. This flock grew from the original donation of approximately 30 ewes in 2017, to 175 breeding ewes. Weston had to sell off some animals during covid to make financial ends meet at the school. Currently they are firmly on the way to make up for these losses.
The flock is used for the following activities, apart from the day-to-day management procedures in which students are involved:
Youth Show: During the past three National Agricultural Youth Show Championships, the KZN team from Weston got placed in the top 3 of the Individual and Group Showing Classes in the Woolled Sheep category. Weston learners were also placed first and second in their age groups during the ALFA-VOERMOL online Youth Show. Weston annually participates in the KZN Youth Show Championships during the annual Royal Show. This is excellent publicity for the breed, as well as our school.
Wool Classing: Every year, the grade 11 learners attends the formal wool classing course, presented by using Weston’s own Dohne Merino wool clip.
Sheep handling course: The NWGA hosts a sheep information and handling course for junior learners, and Weston Dohnes are used for the practical part of the course.
Sheep reproduction course: The NWGA hosts a sheep reproduction course for senior learners. Weston’s Dohnes’are used for some aspects of the practical.
Dohne Merino Course: Every year, the Dohne Merino breed society presents their students course to our senior students. They immensely enjoy the interaction and the information around the history of the breed, breeding values, how to read a sale catalogue and how to select a good Dohne Merino.
Feed-lotting: A routine feedlot project is executed annually by the Grade 10 students as part of their Agricultural Management Practices practical mark. If doable, Weston also participate in local carcass competitions with their Dohne Merino lambs.
At Weston, everyone now loves Dohne Merinos and keenly follows the daily ups and downs of the flock. The school is grateful to have the opportunity to educate a younger generation. The support and interest of the Dohne Merino breeders are outstanding, and they continue to contribute to the success of the project. A few examples of this cooperation are: Mr Clark Rattray provide continuous advice and also lent top class rams to Weston; Mr Danie Bruwer organises mini-farmers days with practical demonstrations on his farm-Weston participate in these days held in the Free State; Finally, Mr Julius Beukes also provides management advice and allow Weston students to attend his Bessiesfontein Dohne stud’s annual production sale.
This collaboration between the Dohne breeders and Weston Agricultural College is truly making a positive contribution towards education and marketing of the Dohne Merino breed in KZN.