How a South African Brahman stud operates

THE Australian Brahman Breeders arrived in South Africa at 3.30pm Saturday, March 29, to start a tour of the country’s cattle producers and attend the 17th World Brahman Congress.

On Sunday March 30, we headed to our first producer, Russell Jackson’s Arjac Brahmans. His farm is situated near Rustenburg, which was one of the official host cities of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Russell’s Red Brahman breed was started 30 years ago with the cattle largely bred from MN Red Mayro 766/1, W.D 78 and Cherokee Bloodlines from two local bulls, R10 79/89 bred by Llewellyn Labuschagne and Sambok 405 bred by Dr Lombard.

Russell had his show team penned up to present to us. His cow herd consists of medium framed animals with good udders and milk that are able to raise calves under extensive conditions. His farm is also a game park.

After morning tea we headed off to Coetzrand Brahmans near Carletonville, which is a gold-mining town in western Gauteng, South Africa. It is one of the richest gold-producing areas in the world.

Stephan Coetzee has bred Red and Grey Brahmans since 1996. The breeding herd consists of 150 grey females selected from Tecklenburg, Hunt, JDH and V8- ranches and the 50 red females selected from Reed's Red, Selvin Plaut and various American bloodlines.

Stephan actively participates in a number of shows throughout the year and has won various Brahman Championships.

Stephan sure knows how to party we were treated to what you could only describe as a typical South African outback party.

It was then back to the Royal Marang Hotel for a real deserved rest. The early morning starts were starting to affect my room mate Stewart Nobbs and I – we were all worn out. Those people who have been on the overseas Brahman tours would surely understand.

After breakfast on Day Two, we departed to HCB Brahmans Henry Brits near Swartruggens. Swartruggens is a small farming town in North West Province of South Africa, that was established in 1875 and takes its name 'Swartruggens' from a series of hills there, Afrikaans for 'black ridges', formerly known as Zwartruggens.

Henry Brits has bred Red and Grey Brahmans since 2003. The stud consists of 95 red and grey females. The red females are selected from the well known Assem stud while the grey females are selected from JSC stud.

Henry packed us on the Toyota trayback for a trip to see his cattle. They were all around the feed bin and the tyres of our vehicle. This was really different because, wait for it, they feed on chicken manure and urea!

I started to realise why when Henry said to me that he had the contract to remove the waste from the chicken farms in the area. We in Australia stopped feeding meat meal back in the early 90s.

It was great to catch up with Henry. He also has race horses and of course Stewart and I had a few rand on one of his horses on Tuesday. I find out if it won at the Congress – not a good way of betting in South Africa.

Henry will be showing at Congress and he had a very handy red bull.

After leaving HCB Brahmans, the Madikwe Game Reserve was going to be home for two days, which is situated in the central eastern region of the richly diverse and malaria free 76 000-hectare of the North West Province, bordering Botswana. The area is well known for providing the best game viewing within the reserve, as well as having the lowest concentration of safaris vehicles which makes for a superior game viewing experience.

Well let me tell you if you have been to a game reserve in Africa you will probably know what I am about to tell you – this is a must go place!

After passing the main gate and taking the safari trucks to the resort which is inside the 300,000 acres of park let me tell you we would not have gone 10km and a herd of elephants were there in the wild: mind boggling.

The comments from the breeders on tour were that the game park was one of their highlights of their life.

Our guide, Megan, what a champion and to the rest of the drivers, thank you. I would personally like to thank the staff of the game park for their attention to detail and the way in which we where informed by their experience and knowledge of native Africa.

Another update next week.

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Congress ConversationsThe North Queensland Register's Jim Pola is in South Africa for the 17th World Brahman Congress. Congress Conversations is his on-the-road reporting on the ABBA tour.

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