What is Uruguay made of?

Oriental Republic of Uruguay is located in South America and borders Argentina and Brazil. It is home for about 3.44 million people, of whom 1.8 million live in Montevideo. Uruguay is the second-smallest nation in South America after Suriname with a total land of 176,215km². With 3.75 million people, 12 million cattle, 7 million merino sheep and half a million horses, Uruguay is named after the River Uruguay. The name Rio Uruguay (River Uruguay) means river of the colourful birds. It is a word in Guarani that was spoken by the natives of the area.

While we call our Mountain Kingdom of Lesotho, ‘Switzerland of Africa’, Uruguay is often called Switzerland of South America not for geographical features which is the situation for Lesotho, but for a stable democracy and social benefits such as free education, but mostly due to a developed financial sector based on bank secrecy.

The country is predominantly low-lying landscape, with its highest pinnacle of only 514 meters above sea level when compared to Lesotho where our highest point is 3,482 meters above sea level.youth dance

Apart from tourism which plays a significant role in the economy of Uruguay, almost half of her population resides in the rural areas and earns a living through agricultural activity, mainly livestock products being beef and wool.


Productivity index of the soil

In Uruguay the soil is mapped and indexed properly, meaning that in each square inch of the country the authorities have designated what crops or agricultural activity can take place. This is very good information that guides investors who want to invest in agriculture on what to look for, and what to predict. The farmers are therefore equipped with information that shall guide them to practice what is best for not only their soil, but also the environment in which they are farming at. This indexing even provides proper pricing of leased farms or index for farm property valuations.



Pre-Conference Tour

 La Magdalena Farm Sunday, April 8th

“Los Tordos S.C” is the Family Company that owns “La Magdalena”, which is located 65 km east of Salto, in the northern region of Uruguay.

La Magdalena started the exploitation of the land in 1991 with a traditional livestock production system. In the beginning they had a beef cattle Hereford herd and a Corriedale commercial sheep flock.  Soon after that, in 1992, the Merino breed was incorporated in the farm.


Today, La Magdalena carries out a livestock/cropping production system that combines the production of beef cattle and sheep. Beef cattle herds belong to the Hereford and Angus breeds, with a full cycle system and sales of bulls as well as fat cows and steers. Commercial and ram breeding flocks of the Merino and Corriedale breeds are kept.


From right: Diego is the youngest son of the Otegui family and the manager of the La Magdalena farm, standing next to him is Alejandro Stirling working for the farm in the sheep production area

From right: Diego is the youngest son of the Otegui family and the manager of the La Magdalena farm, standing next to him is Alejandro Stirling working for the farm in the
sheep production area


Regarding the cropping system, it includes the production of rise seeds, commercial soybean, corn and sorghum, with a grain drying plant and silos for storing grain. Corn and sorghum are utilized internally for feeding beef and sheep, and also for sale.

LA Magdalena is located in an area very rich in water resources, with very good natural provision of water (creeks) and deep wells of very high yields. In addition, several water dams have been constructed to provide stability to the whole production system.For more than 20 years, La Magdalena has been involved in developing a good sheep genetic improvement program, with the incorporation of good genetic materials from our country as well as Australia, where we imported a high number of merino ewes and rams. La Magdalena is presently involved in a program of embryo transfer, and AI with fresh and frozen semen (intrauterine)

The sheep genetic improvement plan has been using objective measurements of important traits and also we participate in the national genetic evaluation of the breed (EBVs). This allows our merino ram breeding flock to be placed in a very good level of production and an important sale of rams.


San Ramon S.G Farm Tuesday, April 10th

Javier Otero - Technical Assessor of the farm

Javier Otero – Technical Assessor of the farm


San Ramón S.G. is a 5.320 ha farm that farms both crops and livestock. It is in the northern part of Uruguay in Termas del Arapey. At San Ramon there are basalt rocks with 43% of shallow soil and 23% of good deep soil. Livestock consists of both sheep and cattle. Beef cattle are run in a full cycle production system, with a rotational crossing involving Angus and Hereford breeds. Out of 5 320 ha, 200 ha is allocated rice year in year out, 693 still rice but on rotational basis while the 464 ha is just bush that cannot be grazed by animals.


San Ramon S.G produces fine and superfine wool, moreover ewes with coarser wool are allocated to produce another production line other than wool, which is lamb.

Talitas Soc. Agaria Farm Tuesday

Federico De Brum owner of Talitas

Federico De Brum owner of



Talitas Farm is owned by Daniel de Brum and family and it started in 1967. It is 2,406 ha in total with about 1,800 ha dedicated grazing land for 2,476 sheep of Australian Merino Breed.The farm also breeds 1,359 Hereford Cattle. Talitas farm is located in the prime basalt soils in the north of Uruguay at Arapey Chico and has productivity index of 74.

At Talitas, the breeding is done with own rams and selection is done with the sole aim of producing superfine wool, good quality meat and resistance to internal parasites.Last year 2017, Talitas sold 200 rams, 112 store ewes and animals sold to slaughtering houses were 126 lambs together with 40 weathers.

System of selection since 1967 are based on farm records, which is very important as records help them to access the information, see what is best for them, know exactly their strength and be able to plan for the future

System of selection since 1967 are based on farm records, which is very important as records help them to access the information, see what is best for them, know exactly their strength and be able to plan for the future


At Talitas, farm records are regarded as an important ingredient that helps in selecting of animals, assessment of strength and ability to plan ahead.Records cover from stock population per age and sex of flock, stocking rate per hector, ratio of sheep to beef cattle, management and reproductive efficiency, wool and sheep meat production, total wool per hector grazing sheep and many other details which are essential in Operations Management of Talitas Farm.

Pingo Viejo S.G Farm Wednesday, April 11th


Another family enterprise in the land named after the river of colourful birds. Here the Parietti family farms both cattle and sheep on two different farms that are exploited optimally.

The farms are Pingo Viejo and .Ñuporá. The former is located in the basalt area of the northern part of the country. Pingo has 70% of shallow soil and 30% of deep soil and it is an area where the improvement of pastures is done, furthermore on that very plot of the farm; there are cultivated pastures and annual winter grasses. The crops rotate seasonally as follows, sorghum for grain and chop, soybean, ryegrass and artificial pastures.


Ñuporá is located in the department of Paysandú where good and fertile soils on a sedimentary rock is decorating the outskirts of the city of Fray Bentos. At this farm the products are soybean that actually rotates with annual winter grasses and cultivated pastures.This farm has combination of Hereford and Merino, where 400 stud cattle enables sales of good quality 180 bulls per annum of which some are used internally while the others sold in auctions. On the other hand sheep production is divided into both Merino and Dohne Merino Flocks

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Wool production for Merino produces an average of 18.8 microns, while Dohne Merino produces 21 microns. Dohn Merino priority production line is supply of good quality fat lamb.As a tradition in most farms, serious breeding of Criollo horses had been done at this farm since 1978, and most horses are used at the farm, and for sport.


Santa Catalina Stud S.G Farm Sunday, April 15th


Santa Catalina Stud is owned by Douglas Cortela and Family located in Las Flores, Department of Colonia.It has a total area of 400ha, of which 330 belong to them and 70 are leased, where a mixed cropping-livestock system takes place, as well as the merino stud. Soils are very fertile and deep, with a Productive index of 178, (the average in the country is 100) developed on sedimentary rocks. 100% of the area is arable.



Animal production is carried out in approximately 170ha, with 1400 merino sheep and 100 heads of beef cattle in full cycle.The cropping area includes mainly the production of grass and leg seeds, including ryegrass (90 ha), Lotus (42 ha) and Red clover (20 ha). Approximately 80 ha are given in contract to another producer to plant soybean, in rotation with the land used to produce seeds. Merino sheep as well as the cattle graze the area devoted to grass seeds in certain periods of the year.


Merino production – the total greasy wool production reached 6,800 kg during 2017 with a diameter of 18.3 microns. Wool produced by the hoggets averaged 17.0 microns. This means a total of wool produced per shorn animal between 4.8 and 5.1 kg (meaning 34 kgs of wool/ha). Price obtained by the total clip during 2017 was US$10.2/kg of greasy wool produced.Merino breeding was started by Euclides Cortela in 1953, and as mentioned earlier the farm is now in full control of Euclides’s son Douglas, his wife Lilian and their sons. There are no hired staff at this farm, and the family members do everything.

During the presentations, we were made aware that since establishment, the stud has been growing stronger year in year out with very impressive results. To mention but a few the annual sales of merino rams average 150/year; are sold at Santa Catalina’s annual ram auction or as private sales and also at the ram shows. The stud has been participating during the last 30 years at the Prado Show in Montevideo, the biggest show in Uruguay.


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