FIFTY YEARS OF SERVICE TO THE WOOLED SHEEP INDUSTRY IN ONE AREA
Ockie Le Roux, well known personality in the Dohne Merino and entire small stock industry retired after fifty years of impeccable service in the Humansdorp area. Ockie provided the following interesting insight into his long successful career:
Ockie was born and grew up in the de Rust area. His Family already made huge in roads in agriculture and co-operative milieu during the 1950's and 1960's. He matriculated at "Boys high Oudtshoorn" and eventually ended up as "RSM" as the result of his Military training. His plan to complete a B-Com degree was cut short by the ill health of his father. He had to take over the family's mixed farming enterprise.
Photo : A young Ockie le Roux holds a potential Dohne Merino Sire at the Bloemfontein National Dohne Merino sale
During the drought of the 1960's, Ockie was forced off the farm and completed an agricultural diploma at Glen Agricultural College under the leadership of "Brother Steyn" - a stalwart in the Sheep and Wool Industry. Hereafter he joined BSB at Burgersdorp with Uncle Five du Plessis and Dolf Botha as colleagues (except on the rugby field). Ockie experienced all the turmoil of the amalgamation of BSB and WGA as well as the formation of SAWA.
Ockie landed in Humansdorp at the time of implementation of the then "new" wool marketing scheme. His competition included Mr. Jimmy Maritz, also a legend in the wool industry , employed by F.C.U at that point in time. Ockie also experienced the formation of BKB out of the existing structures in the industry.
After only a few months in Humansdorp, Ockie realized that reproduction in this sourveld area, was wool farmers greatest challenge. Two beginner Dohne Merino breeders, Henry Scheepers (Elandsrivier/Uitenhage) and Renier vd Watt (Humansdorp) provided the necessary contact to pursue the objective.
An incident during a sheep judging course, convinced Ockie of the value of the system central to the success of the Dohne Merino. Apparently the incident included the following conversation in Afrikaans: “Uncle Fred” asked “maar kan jy nie SIEN nie.” Ockie then asked " maar wat moet ek SIEN." The question was never answered. the Dohne system developed in cooperation with the then Department of Agriculture to make use of measuring traits of economic importance and thereafter to process data into useful comparative figures, provided a new more efficient tool to Ockie ("who cannot see" according to the archaic subjective show judgement system.
Commencement of wool testing in 1974-1976 indicated that Dohne wool is slightly (± 5%) over crimped but also that between 20/21 Mic with a 19% C.V., it can be classified as good quality Merino wool. This convinced Ockie to market the Dohne-system. He was so enthusiastic that he became the Dux student on one of Cameron McMaster's first courses. He was also privileged to judge the last Dohne show at Goodwood together with Ian Stewart in 1977. Afterwards Ockie acted for 21 years as vice-president of the Humansdorp show and was also instrumental in staging the National show of the Caffrarian Polled Merino Society at Humansdorp in 1978.
Ockie completed the Walrich breed society's course in 1980, also as Dux student. During the course he asked the question: “Wat is die verskil tussen Walrich en Kaffrarain Poll Merino?”. This sparked off serious debating ending in sheep of the two breeds physically being compared in one "kraal". The eventual outcome was that the Walrich society amalgamated first with the Caffrarian Polled society and thereafter with the Dohne Merino Society. The Humansdorp area accepted
Photo L/R : Ockie le Roux paying at Mr Jurie Naudè (BKB, Bloemfontein) for 35 rams bought at the National Dohne Sale, destined for the Humansdorp area
the Dohne to such an extent that this area bought 37% of the rams on the Bloemfontein sale in 1978. During that period legendary studs were founded in the area. We think about the “Lawn-stud”, (Tom Dicey) and “ Lighuis-stud” (Andre vd Merwe). They were sold as the result of illness and emigration to Australia. In 1987, Humansdorp area produced approximately 1 Million kg wool. On account of theft after 1992 and expansion of dairy farming sheep farming stagnated. Ockie is however of opinion that new technology including sophisticated planting methods, are empowering farmers to plant new grazing and stimulate production. The Dohne merino clip of Humansdorp (95% plus of the total) is known for the high quality short wool produced for the past 30 years.
Ockie concludes by mentioning that he made many wonderful friends and that you will find nowhere else such loyal clients and friendly community. He ended by wishing Wouter Vorster, his successor a bright future in the area and be assured: “Kyk op na bo vanwaar al jou hulp vandaan sal kom”.
Photo : Ockie le Roux receives a certificate and token of appreciation for the role he played in the development of the Dohne Merino breed
Ockie Le Roux, well known personality in the Dohne Merino and entire small stock industry retired after fifty years of impeccable service in the Humansdorp area. Ockie provided the following interesting insight into his long successful career: .............
The Dohne Merino Breed Society announced with great pride that Mr. Clark Rattray won the 19th award of the Dohne Merino Top Breeder trophy. The Breed society also conveyed a special word of thanks to the four sponsors of the ward namely Virbac, BKB, Voermol and Molatek (regional winner sponsor). Virbac that was involved from the beginning of this award deserves special mention for supporting the top award of the Dohne Merino breed society on a long term basis.
Clark Rattray is a very worthy winner of the Virbac National Top Breeder trophy. Clark's Pleasant View Dohne Merino stud consists of only 260 ewes but by consistently maintaining a lambing percentage (Number of lambs registered per ewe on record), of more than 150 percent, Clark effectively created a much larger than expected selection potential. Linked to Clark's ability to accurately appraise the overall merit of stud animals and meticulous performance testing, his winning combination excels regularly at the National Dohne Merino sale. In 2015 Clark already recorded an average sale price of R78750. He also regularly invests in the absolute top Dohne Merino rams to ensure the long term success of the Pleasant View stud. The foundation of Clark's stud was laid rock solidly by selecting top ewes from his late father - Craig Rattray's Milburne Dohne stud. The Milburne stud was another Dohne Merino stud,also highly rated for the role played in the development of the Dohne Merino breed. In fact Clark dedicated the award to his father, Craig Rattray. After receiving the award clark thanked his stud advisor, Danie Schoeman and his farm personnel for their long term commitment to the success of the stud. Clark who is involved in many community projects, shows etc. concluded by thanking his wife Sherry for her support.
Photo L/R : Dr Kobus Delport (Dohne Merino Breed Society) , Mr. Jacobus le Roux (Manager, BKB), Janneman van Aardt (Virbac), Koos Vosloo (at the back, president DMBS), Sherry and Clark Rattray (National winner of the Virbac Top Breeder Trophy) and Hendrik van Pletzen (Voermol) with the Virbac National Top Breeder Trophy.
The Dohne Merino Breed Society announced with great pride that Mr. Clark Rattray won the 19th award of the Dohne Merino Top Breeder trophy. The Breed society also convey a special word of thank to the four sponsors of the award namely Virbac, BKB, Voermol and Molatek (regional winner sponsor). Virbac that was involved from the very beginning ..........
2017's National sale will be remembered for the all-time record price of R220000 paid by Members of Crux Dohnes together with Mr John Morris (Terra Vino Dohnes) for the ram JW150558. The ram's performance figures was as follows : Weaning direct growth rate - +0.44 (above average in the breed); Weaning maternal - +3.75 (In the top 10% of the breed); Body weight at 12 months +5.59 kg. (top 10%); Clean fleece weight +0.45 (top 10%); Fibre Diameter -0.15 (Average); General Merit +19.9 (top 10%). The ram was bred out of a ewe that produced six lambs out of four matings. What makes this ram exceptional is that its visual appearance also in terms of both body conformation and wool traits were ranked amongst the highest ever ! The balance between this large number of measured and visually appraised attributes, led to this all time record price paid!
An important market signal was sent by this sales result to all serious Dohne Merino Flock farmers. A total of 17 of these top Dohne Merino sires and potential sires were sold at prices that varied between R8000 and R16000 (see also Table 1 below). Surely this price range for absolute top quality AA Dohne Merino rams, is affordable to the flock farmer that wants to upgrade his flock to a higher standard. The Dohne Merino breed society therefore invites all flock farmers interested in Dohne Merino rams, to enjoy our next National sale. Observing this top breeding material alone will make a visit worthwhile!
Photo L/R : Mr JH Wessels (Weska Dohnes, seller), Louwrens Conradie, Schalk van der Merwe (Buyers Crux Dohnes), John Morris (Terra Vino stud, buyer), Jan Joubert (BKB, Bloemfontein) with kneeling Wikus Bekker and Koos Vosloo (Crux Dohnes, buyers).
A Total of 38 stud/potential stud sires were sold on this prestige sale of the dohne Merino Breed at an average price of R35237. A summary of the result per breeder is provided in table 1.
Table 1 Result of the 2017 National Dohne Merino sale per breeder.
|1||Weska Dohnes, Bredasdorp||4||R96500|
|2||Suidplaas Dohnes, Protem||7||R44286|
|3||White Wools, Molteno||4||R41250|
|4||Schietfontein Dohnes, Phillipolis||4||R32250|
|5||Terra Vino Dohnes, Stellenbosch||3||R22667|
|6||Mullersvlei Dohnes, Calvinia||2||R31500|
|7||Charfontein Dohnes Vrede||3||R15333|
|7||Nello Dohnes, Brandfort||3||R15333|
|8||Lowmar Dohnes, Cradock||4||R14000|
|9||FEM Dohnes, Burgersdorp||1||R28000|
Photo : Wool of a true Dohne Merino record breaking ram!
2017's National sale will be remembered for the all-time record price of R220000 paid by Members of Crux Dohnes for the ram JW150558. The ram's performance figures was as follows : Weaning direct growth rate - +0.44 (above average in the breed); Weaning maternal - +3.75 (In the top 10% of the breed); Body weight at 12 months +5.59 kg. (top 10%); Clean fleece weight +0.45 (top 10%); Fibre Diameter -0.15 (Average); General Merit +19.9 (top 10%). The ram was bred ..........
Compared to 2016 all autumn production sales for 2017 are, practically spoken, finalized. There are still one production sale to come on the 24th of March 2017, but this particular sale did not take place in 2016. It is therefore reasonable to, at this stage, compare the 2017 production sales results to that of 2016. In 2017 a total of 1126 rams were sold at an average price of R10206. This is the first time in history that the average price of any sales season for Dohne Merino rams passed the R10000 mark! The figures for 2017 (table 1) represent a total of 38 rams more sold than in 2016, at an average price of R2485 higher than that for 2016. In terms of total turn over, the 2017 figure of R11,491,900 represent a R3 million or 36.8 percent increase above the figure for 2016. This astonishing increase in ram sales is difficult to explain. Factors that might have played a significant role, include off course, recent good rains after the prolonged drought, but also the relatively high productivity and efficiency of utilizing available veld of the Dohne Merinos during the dry spell. It is also reasonable to assume that the high wool prices maintained for a number of years now, linked to the recent increase in lamb and mutton prices, boosted confidence of both commercial and stud farmers in the profitability of the breed.
- The breed society congratulate CRUX dohnes (Wikus Bekker) as well as Blydskap Trust (Jan and Jan-Wessel van Deventer) (photos) that both sold the top priced rams for the Autumn sales season at R62000 each.
In conclusion the South African Dohne Merino proved its intrinsic value as a self replacing dual purpose breed.
Table 1 : Results of the 2017 autumn production sales compared to 2016.
|Stud||n sold||Ave Price||Top Price||n sold||Ave Price||Top Price|
|Potberg Dohnes, Bredasdorp||81||9728||20000||73||9150||32000x2|
|vlakkoof Dohnes, Protem||48||12254||35000||46||9600||25500|
|Lowmar Dohnes, Cradock||64||10016||23000||70||8614||27000|
|Hencil Dohnes, Barkly East||68||7846||40000||63||7770||35000|
|White Wools, Molteno||63||11286||35000||55||6400||12000x2|
|GWG, Barkly East||40||10225||46000||34||9206||25000|
|Sneeuberg Dohnes, Cradock||63||12024||24000||65||8469||17000|
|Crux Dohnes, Edenburg||111||11207||62000||111||6473||50000|
|Kromspruit Dohnes, Memel||47||11447||29000||42||8131||28000|
|G Hobson & JP Steynberg, Graaff Reinet||59||8459||18000||67||6020||11000|
|Olmar Dohnes, Molteno||51||10627||36000||52||7577||32000|
|FEM Dohnes, Burgersdorp||85||9894||37000||92||6864||19000|
|Blydskap Trust, Riviersonderend||67||11820||62000||66||9242||26000|
|Grootfontein Dohnes, Middelburg EC||62||10806||47000||60||7500||27000|
|Normandy Dohnes, Graaff Reinet||53||9585||25000||53||8556||16500|
|Wauldby Dohnes, Amabele||39||8500||20000||33||7338||20000|
Compared to 2016 all autumn production sales for 2017 are, practically spoken, finalized. There are still one production sale to come on the 24th of March 2017, but this particular sale did not take place in 2016. It is therefore reasonable to compare the 2017 production sales results to that of 2016. In 2017 a total of 1126 rams were sold at an average price of ..........
Gabriel Capurro, president of the Uruguayan Dohne Merino Association, hosted an extremely successful field day on his farm La Pastoral. The day was attended by more than a hundred people and this success was ascribed to competitions including selecting the ewe with the heaviest fleece, finest fleece, heaviest lamb, average weight of the ewe hoggets etc.
A Display was held with the aim to show the hugh meat production potential of the Dohne Merino. For this purpose two month old lambs weighing between 33 and 38 kgs that gained more than 450 grams per days were exhibited. Twin lambs on display gained 350 grams per day.
this display was complemented by an exhibition of ewes, rams and hoggets.
Six stud rams with objective information were also displayed that had to be judged by six groups of three judges each. The ram had to be ranked from one to six. Thereafter the groups of judges had to motivate their judgement in order to demonstrate that differences in opinion contribute to variation in the breed.
The day was also utilized to advertise Gabriel's sale that took place on the 15th of February 2017
Images from this very successful information day:
Gabriel Capurro, president of the Uruguayan Dohne Merino Association, hosted an extremely successful field day on his farm La Pastoral. The day was attended by more than a hundred people and this success was ascribed to competitions including selecting the ewe with the heaviest fleece, finest fleece, heaviest lamb, average weight of the ewe hoggets etc. ...........
Photo L/R : Gary Trethewey (BKB), Richard Morgan (back) and Murray Rogerson in discussion at the Sale of Robbie Blaine's Wauldby Dohnes, Amabele
Murray Rogerson is a prominent Dohne Merino Breeder in the state of Victoria, Australia. Murray's Stirling Dohne Merino stud is situated in the South Western part of Victoria at Glenthompson. Murray describes the area as a "soft damp area" with an average yearly rainfall of 540mm. Sheep have to handle "long wet grass" for approximately seven months of the year and therefore "strong feet" are not negotiable. Murray also mentioned that this particular area, similar to the Riverina, is well-known for producing some of the best wools in Australia. The Stirling stud was established circa 2004 by means of embryo transfers as well as 490 stud ewes purchased from the Uardry Dohne Merino stud. Stud Sires were obtained from almost exclusively the Uardry stud. The Stirling stud already in 2010 sold more than 100 rams and its 7th annual on-property ram sale, 50 rams, will take place on November 10th.
- The first important aspect influencing accurate evaluations by means of EBV's, that cannot be over emphasized, is accurate data recording at farm level. The basic principle that inaccuracies affect performance testing figures, also applies to EBV calculation. Although the system of EBV calculation is more robust, Murray, in his presentation pointed out, cases of "unacceptable" changes in EBV's. He also indicated that the adjustment of the base of comparison every year may lead to breeders confusing this base year change with an interpretation that the system does not account accurately for enviromental effects.
- The practice of recording birth dates inaccurately by using "average dates" for ewes lambing in some extreme cases even longer than a week apart, seriously affect the accuracy of weaning indexes and also weaning weight direct and maternal breeding values. The over and under estimation of growth rate may be as high as 30 percent according to Murray Rogerson. Murray therefore suggested a system of measuring total weight of lamb produced per unit of body weight for ewes as an alternative. It must however be remembered that the inherent inaccuracy of improper birth recording is not removed and the ewe productivity figures will remain subject to the same inaccuracy.
Photo : Dohne Merino Mothers together with their newly born lambs
- The practice of performing final performance testing at the age of 250 days with a minimum wool growth of five months, also seriously compromises accuracy of evaluation. According to Murray, he would rather suggest to performance test only ewes at an age of two years. In this instance, the worst case scenario is debatable. Having only half of a dataset that is accurate compared to complete but inaccurate data may have equally inadequate breeding value figures as a result. It is a well known scientific fact that the repeatability of measurements at an earlier age than two tooth stage, is questionable. The practice of measuring wool traits on a short period of wool growth is also questionable and leads to excessively large coefficients of variation in national datasets compared to experimental data.
Photo : Excellent Australian Dohne Merino wool!
- In the Australian case, EBV's are calculated for number of lambs weaned. In the conversation with Murray it became clear that the result of this calculation was implemented prematurely. Sufficient "depth" of pedigree data is necessary to produce usable and more reliable EBV's for this trait with an extremely low heritability. The problem in Australia seems to be that breeders are losing their confidence in these figures that were not reliable at the time of implementation. Another more positive approach of breeders would be to strive for an improvement in the reliability of these most necessary figures that are in any case of more value than phenotypic measurements only.
- Murray as an individual farmer, did not have access to the entire Australian data base and therefore could not comment on the amount of linage in the Australian case. However it may be sufficient to conclude that imperfections in across year and across stud genetic links may also contribute to unsatisfactory end results. In South Africa, breeders are in some cases, not following the linkage guidelines properly and statistically totally unbalanced data causes breeding values to be not comparable.
The bottom line is that the system usually gets blamed instead of the data! Resorting back to a less sophisticated methods is definitely not the solution to this international problem. Performance ratios are less robust and are therefore more affected by the discrepancies mentioned by Murray Rogerson. The only difference is that performance ratios "hide" the reality of erroneous data from breeders. Breeders resorting back to these older inadequate techniques of animal breeding can, tongue in the cheek, be compared to an ostrich hiding its head in the sand. Animal scientists and progressive breeders should actually encourage sound recording practices to facilitate more accurate and more complete comparisons between animals. The trick for animal breeders nowadays, seems to be in the long run, to follow breeding objectives producing the highest possible commercial profit by using as few as possible, but accurate measurements.
Photo L/R : Murray Rogerson and Quentin Rogers (back in South Africa from New Zeeland after judging the world shearing championships) relaxing after the Wauldby Dohne Merino sale
Murray Rogerson is a prominent Dohne Merino Breeder in the state of Victoria, Australia. Murray's Stirling Dohne Merino stud is situated in the South Western part of Victoria at Glenthompson. Murray describes the area as a "soft damp area" with an average yearly rainfall of 540mm. Sheep have to handle "long wet grass" for approximately ............