The Beefmaster Cattle Breeder’s society of South Africa partakes in a provincial tour of Beefmaster Breeders in different provinces every year in March. 2017 was Kwa-Zulu Natal’s opportunity to host the fellow breeders from all the provinces of South Africa for a 3 to 4 day tour.
KZN was blessed with good rains this summer and as a result the veld quality and quantity was optimal. The Herds visited were in excellent condition and a credit to the Breed.
The tour kicked off in Northern Natal where three herds were visited on the first day. The ALS herd at Ingogo of Cas Joubert, the JSB herd in Dundee of Kobus Muller and Sandspruit beefmasters at Van Reenen of Charles Champher.
The second day we visited Mpojwana in Bergville of Lestor Vickers and Dave Armitage, Weston agricultural college at Mooi river and the on to Underberg to SuperBeef od Chris Dwen.
The last day we spent at Magmar of Dawie du Plessis, The pleasant view herd of Clark Rattray and Murfontein of Peter Muir of Swartberg at Cedarville. Our final herd was VOVO of Chippy Watson in Underberg.
The tour party was very impressed at the quality of all cattle seen. Excellent females in their working clothes, feminin with plenty of milk with well-muscled growthy calves. The result of purchasing strong well-muscled grouthy bulls in the upgrading herds was obvious for all to see !!
Breeders from KZN, OFS and Mpumalanga donated a total of 10 incalf, beefmaster heffers and one bull to Weston Agricultural college to launch a stud herd at the school. Twenty commercial Females were inspected and wassed as entry animals in an upgrade phase. This is a wonderful opportunity for the students to actively be involved in the management of a stud herd which will in future breed bulls for the use in the schools commercial herd.
Students will use progeny of the Beefmasters for youth shows and for fatstock and carcas competitions. Judging courses will also be held for the students. The Beefmaster Society looks forward to working with Vee plaas and the school on this exciting project.
The KZN tour ended with many positive comments from fellow breeders. The progress of the relatively young herds, the quality of the cattle and the display of herds was exceptional. Beefmaster have adapted very well to all the different conditions in KZN and should have a bright future in the province.
What an exciting time to be in the Beefmaster business! Demand for Beefmasters is at an all-time high and new markets are opening to all of us across the world. In the past year, there have been exciting developments that are impacting Beefmaster breeders everywhere and I am proud to say that South Africa is playing a key role in these exciting happenings.
In March of 2016, Beefmaster leaders from the U.S., South Africa, Mexico, Panama, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Colombia, Italy and Thailand gathered in Houston, TX to discuss the need to form an International organization to improve the breed, open new markets and create better Beefmasters which will lead to better markets for Beefmaster breeders everywhere.
The International Beefmaster Federation was formed as a result of this meeting and Lorenzo Lasater, grandson of the legendary Beefmaster founder Tom Lasater, was elected as President of IBF. The first order of business for IBF was to form a Technical Committee to determine the breed improvement and genetic evaluation capabilities for each nation. I am personally excited that Connie van Vuuren of South Africa serves on this most important Committee and am confident that as this group moves forward, the other member registries will come to understand how advanced and sophisticated the South African Beef Industry is and how Beefmasters are truly a dominant breed in South Africa. Once the capabilities of each organization are established, the Technical Committee will investigate how to assist Beefmaster breeders in other nations in breed improvement strategies and this will offer educational and marketing opportunities for Beefmaster breeders everywhere.
Obviously, there are major differences between IBF groups, especially in terms of very complex issues such as genetic evaluations. BBU (U.S.) and BCBSSA (S.A.) and Mexico all use variations of BLUP and prepare the most sophisticated genetic evaluations of the group. The IBF Technical Committee is investigating the degree of connectivity across IBF registries and system capabilities to determine how to best assist each registry in breed improvement and ultimately genetic evaluations.
BBU and BCBSSA are the most advanced systems and both registries are using DNA or Genomics to improve their genetic evaluations. In August 2016, Gary Frenzel and Bill Pendergrass of BBU met with BCBSSA and Stud Book officials in South Africa, to discuss a Genotype sharing project that could conceivably help both groups. The BBU Board of Directors has approved sharing BBU genotypes with Stud Book and in the near future both groups will be collaborating on how to use this valuable data for the betterment of Beefmasters in both nations and eventually around the world.
This important project will gain insight into both systems and the economic drivers that each nation has built their beef industry around. The U.S. puts great selection pressure on carcass quality or Marbling. As a result, BBU has a vast ultrasound carcass database that we compute EPDs from. While BCBSSA doesn’t collect or compute similar carcass type measurements, Stud Book collects several fertility type measurements and calculations that are powerful tools. When BBU and BCBSSA combine forces and share genotypes, what will happen? True, this project is complex. Pedigree connectivity and several other challenging areas will determine how useful the data is, but rest assured, as fast as Genomics is advancing, this project will benefit both registries and evaluations.
BBU computed our first genetic evaluation with genomics included in June of 2016 with over 600 HD Genotypes. In less than a year, the BBU Spring 2017 genetic evaluation will include over 2100 Genotypes. In the very near future BBU will unveil a new Beefmaster specific commercial chip that will allow ranchers to determine parentage and compute molecular breeding values for commercial females. I have no doubt that Stud Book will guide BCBSSA down a similar path. At its core, Genomics allows us to identify superior performance genetics at an earlier age with a greater degree of accuracy, which leads to more rapid genetic improvement, which ultimately leads to more profit. BBU is excited to be working with South Africa on this Genotype sharing project and look forward to advancing Beefmasters everywhere.
On a closing note, 2017 marks a milestone in the Beefmaster breed. This will be the 80th anniversary of the year from which Tom Lasater closed his herd to outside genetics (according to Lorenzo Lasater). An amazing amount of progress and history has transpired since then. I think we could all agree that Tom Lasater would be pleased with how Beefmasters have continued to improve and make a significant impact for profit minded cattlemen, the world over.
While this 80th anniversary is not an official designation by BBU, recognition of the achievements of the Lasater families will be top of mind for Beefmaster breeders everywhere. BBU’s Annual Convention will be in October, in Galveston, TX and plans are being made to have an International Beefmaster Federation Meeting in conjunction with this most important BBU event. With this in mind, BBU will structure some of our educational workshops at Convention to include content valuable for International guests and include a session where Beefmaster breeders from outside the U.S. can give feedback about the role of Beefmasters in their nation and how we can better position the breed to improve the beef industry in those nations.
We extend a warm invitation to Beefmaster enthusiasts from everywhere to attend our Convention. Please contact BBU if you need more information.