Writes : ‘Makarabo Mats’umunyane
Baviaanskrans stud is a 105 years old sheep stud and it was first founded in 1913 by Carolus Johannes van Aardt who purchased merino sheep with an interest to breed merino that produce fine and super fine wool.
The sheep stud has been passed from generation to generation since 1913 and Jules, who is now the stud-master of Baviaanskrans, is of the fifth generation since 1913 when the farm was first registered.
In 1976, two brothers, Willem and Carlie van Aardt, each inherited half of their family’s Merino flock. They both went and established two sheep studs, namely: Fairworld and Baviaanskrans studs.
Ever since the establishment of the farm, the family has been working hard to produce quality fine wool and quality rams that are sold to other farmers.
Jules is said to have taken over the farm at a very early age and at an age of 25 years he had an on property ram-sale that made him one of the youngest stud-masters to have a production sale in South Africa. Jules added further that Baviaanskrans is a part of Access Merino group, which is a group of three different farmers (Baviaanskrans, Oorlogspoort Prestige Fynwol Merino’s and Winston Sheep group) with one goal to breed for economies of scale.
Access Merino has been holding auctions once a year for the past 14 years and in February 2019 they will be having their 15th annual stock auction.
Baviaanskrans sheep stud is situated 10km away from Cookhouse in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. The Baviaanskrans merinos are covered over the top line and that helps them to perform well under snow conditions where protection is important against snow.
The Eastern Cape climate is varied with higher levels of rainfall and humidity and most notably with winter temperatures that range from mild to freezing with heavy snowfall in the interior mountain regions.
The stud-master of Baviaanskrans, Jules, said that they have been working with Lesotho farmers for a very long time and they mostly sell rams to Mokhotlong small-stock farmers.
His observation is that the sheep they sell to Mokhotlong have been doing very well and also adapt well to the climate condition of Mokhotlong maintaining Mokhotlong Wool Growers as the best quality fine and super fine wool producers in the country.
Important Traits in breeding
Jules said that in breeding, breeders select animals in which the desired qualities are observed implying good genetics of the animals.
All the animals are performance tested and this allows the breeder to get the genetic merits of the animals and also helps to give buyers information on what kind of animal they are buying.
The key attributes that they normally focus on when choosing a breed include the following: Meat quality: Meat quality matters even if the sheep are kept specifically for wool production. Fertility: An animal selected for breeding has to be very fertile so that the good traits can be passed on to the progeny.
Other factors that are considered during breeding are: feeding productivity, longest wool and finest microns.
Yearly Ram Auctions
The 15th ram auction will be held on the 8th February 2019 at Baviaanskrans sheep Stud, near Cookhouse in Eastern Cape. About 80 to 110 people usually attend the auctions and in 2019, the auctions will commence at 12:00 midday where a total of 60 rams will be auctioned.
Because of the warm relationship between Access Merino and some of the Lesotho wool and mohair growers, and the desire to strengthen and grow the wool and mohair industry in Lesotho, there are certain incentives that are particularly for Lesotho farmers who will buy at the auction.
A program is established for Lesotho farmers whereby M 100 cash will be offered for every ram that will be coming to Lesotho to compensate the transport costs.
Furthermore, the highest price ram for Lesotho gets to be awarded with five free Merino ewes. In addition, the first and second highest Lesotho buyers will also have each 50 free sheep blankets.
Sheep blankets are sheep clothing that are used to protect sheep against cold conditions, also used to facilitate the rate of the growth of wool and to protect the wool from substances that could affect its cleanliness.
Sheep blankets are used mostly in New Zealand and Australia and Jules has started using sheep blankets for his flock to improve the value of wool that his sheep produce.