Part Time Farming Couple Become Established Farmers

The Hatagob Stud of Charles and Shirley Urib needs little introduction in Namibia as this husband and wife team has proven itself as formidable farmers over the last few years.

While living in Windhoek, their farm is located about 500km northwest of the capital near Kamanjab, and as weekend farmers, farming is managed by a fulltime employed foreman. They have two daugthers, Mavynee and Madawas. Whilst farming on communal land in Damaraland, Kunene region, the couple decided to take their farming to the next level. Thus, in May 2005, they managed to hire grazing on farm Bergvallei, which they bought in October 2010. They were farming with commercial cattle, consisting of different breeds, but mainly Simmental and Brahman. “Our farming methods improved drastically after we attended farmers’ days, training courses and visited fellow commercial farmers,” Charles recalls.

With this vast farming knowledge gained, they started venturing into quality improvement by buying stud bulls and rams from leading stud breeders like Diethelm Metzger, Otto Herrigel and Hardus Breedt (cattle), Dirk Louw, Willie Coetzee, Kola Steyn and Kobus van Wyk (Boer Goats). Through good experience, a conscious decision was subsequently taken to reduce volumes and concentrate on the improvement of quality by starting Boergoat and Simbra cattle studs. This decision was further consolidated during the start of 2006, when they managed to secure the services of Willie Grobler, a renowned cattle expert, who visited their farm and aised them to go on with Simbra cattle breeding. His aice was purely based on the herd at their disposal, which consisted of Brahman, Simmentaler or a cross between the two. He then selected about 28 cows as Cum F-1, which conformed to the minimum requirements of Simbra Breeders Association of Southern Africa.

“From there on, we constantly bought good quality stud bulls and cows at various production auctions to compliment our herd. Today Hatagob Farming Enterprise consists of about 300 commercial breeding cow herd, 180 registered Simbra stud animals, 200 commercial Boer Goat breeding ewes and 120 registered ennobled Boer Goats. On the side lines, we are also farming with about 400 commercial DamaraVan Rooy sheep flock. With cattle, our experience has taught us that we need to keep animals which are more of a Brahman type then Simmentaler. This is because of our area, the best usage of hybrid vigour, good mothering characteristic and hardiness,” the couple says.

With time it was quite clear that the Simmentaler-Brahman cross-breed performed the best and was perfectly adapted for the conditions in Kamanjab area. They noticed, with obvious results, how the various breed types performed on the farm during severe drought seasons as well as when there were not good rains. The choice thus became Simbra breed for stud farming.

“Because of the harsh farming conditions in Namibia, and in particular the Kamanjab area, our breeding policy and other qualitative requirements for the stud was the same as those for the commercial cattle. Due to the extensive farming conditions, heifers considered for stud breeding must reach the desired target weight within 24 months, at which time they are placed with the bull. Heifers not complying with the criteria set out for the stud and which we regard as not suitable for breeding, we do not sell (if we cannot use them to breed, they are also not suitable for other studs!). We are striving to have female animals that can produce a calf and wean a calf every year,” the couple says.

Following are some of the vital selection traits they use to select for (as guided by the Simbra Society): Fertility, walking ability and femininity and structural soundness. A structural standard that exceeds the standard of excellence set out by the Simbra Society.

Their interest in goat stud farming started when they had to buy a good quality ram every year for their commercial herd. Because of late high prices they were forced to pay high prices at stud auctions and the idea of starting with few ewes to breed their own emerged. This idea quickly turned out to be viable since many fellow farmers where enquiring about rams for sale. They then invested heavily in quality animals and today boast of about 150 registered pure Boer Goats.

The selection criteria is pretty much the same as with cattle: Fertility, walking ability and femininity and structural soundness. “Lastly, you can only measure the quality of your breeding stock if you measure it against fellow stud breeders. Therefore we attend various agricultural shows held in Namibia,” says Charles.

Source : New Era