MIMOSA FARMING

WAGYU Cattle breeding

Background
Sarel du Toit is one of the first Namibians that seized the opportunity of Wagyu farming. This creates an opportunity for a more profitable cattle farm. He is also one of the first Namibians that already has a registered Wagyu stud in the Namibian commercial industry.

Sarel’s technical ability of animal feed and established interest in the feed business, as well as practical experience and training in animal feed (BSc Agric-grade of the University of Stellenbosch) means that he is in favourable position to meet the high requirements that Wagyu require to effectively grow and marble. Sarel is a born Namibian with local as well as South African business interests via the establishment DAS Group in Stellenbosch. He was a technical marketer for Voermol from 1980 to 1983. He established Voermeester in 1983 with Kurst Stover and Pieter van Niekerk. Here he received valuable insight and knowledge concerning the extensive and intensive feeding and rounding of animals in Namibia. After six years as the managing director he sold his interests in Voermeester and moved to Stellenbosch, where he established the DAS Group. At the same time, he acquired his MBA at the University of Stellenbosch, with a focus on the position and future of meat production in an independent Namibia.

One of the DAS Group’s Namibian companies is Mimosa Farming, the banner under which the farm is operated. Here has been farmed with cattle, Arabic horses and game for hunting purposes since 1998.

The Stud
Currently the herd consists of 3 Fullblood Cows, 4 Purebred Cows, 3 Female Purebred Calves, 7 Female Fullblood Calves, 1 Purebred Male Calf, 8 Fullblood Male Calves and 1 Fullblood Bull. His first imported genetics from South Africa arrived October 2017 in the country. The first calves from the imported cows has been born and the first generation from certified embryo animals arrived in March 2018. There are currently Meanwhile an AI program was conducted in August 2018, where semen from top genetic bloodlines was imported for the conversion of Sarel’s total commercial herd to Wagyu genetics. The program’s first phase started in February 2018. Currently the commercial herd consist primarily of Beefmaster x Sussex cows. By end 2018 Wagyu bulls will replace the current breeding bulls as well as the use of semen and fertilised embryos. “To use carefully selected genetic material is very important, especially regarding marbling and adaptability”.

Registrations

  • WAGYU CATTLE BREEDERS’ SOCIETY OF S.A. – Membership number 8195898
  • NAMIBIA WAGYU BREEDERS’ SOCIETY – Membership number F10003

Stud breeding and commercial production
High standards are a priority for Sarel’s Wagyu stud, with which he wants to provide the Namibian market with world-class genetic material to make actual contributions to improve Namibian meat quality. “The goal is only achievable with the help of existing expertise, which is readily available in South Africa”. This includes Dr Fanie Steyn, breeding expert and president of Wagyu SA, Dr Michael Bradfield Wagyu SA’s managing director, and Graham Truscott, former executive manager of the Australian Wagyu breeder’s fellowship and consultant for Wagyu SA.  Graham Truscott is also involved with beef genomics’ project.

Sarel says his F1- to F4 – male animals are for the export market. The aim is to produce 36-month animals with a carcass weight of between 300 and 400 kg. He is initially going to export his slaughter animals to the South African market, which already has access to international markets (European Union, the Middle East and Asia). He wants to create his own export channels to the Middle and far East, Japan and the European Union in time.

Feeding program
“Feeding, top genetics and continues monitoring is essential for Wagyu beef’s unique characteristics (marbling, taste and tenderness) to develop,” Sarel says.

From birth to weaning age (seven months) the calves receive creep feed with emphasis on healthy rumen development. From eight to twenty months, animals will be on natural grazing. Depending on the quality and quantity of the pasture, the animals will receive high energy rations with grain by-products at about 1% inclusion of the living mass of the animal.

At twenty months a strict selection process is followed. Top animals are used as replacements to breed purebred or full blood Wagyu’s (F1 to F4). The rest goes either to the feedlot or to the pasture to be rounded off for the commercial meat market. Performance, based on average daily increase and feed turnover effectiveness, will be continuously monitored according to the certified Wagyu meat program’s guidelines, which is currently finalised in Australia. The production of Wagyu meat is strictly monitored and regulated with DNA verification – compulsory for all registered animals.

After the selection process, animals from 21 to 32 months will be finalised to 34 months through two programs: semi-intensive field rounding with a feed intake of 2% of living mass or an intensive feedlot rounding to between 600 and 800 kg living mass. Marbling happens largely in this last stage, when animals are subjected to a healthy feed program – without hormones, growth stimulants or fermentation regulators. Grain based rations form to complies with international protocol.

Facilities
On Lauwater Wes, there are excellent facilities for the breeding of Wagyu cattle.

These include the following:

  • Veterinary station
  • Weighing station
  • Cattle enclosures

Article: Agriforum Namibia Feb 2018

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