Articles

Give Me The Dorper

By Dr Piet Roux ( translated)

Dirk and his son Boeta is sitting on the verandah in the late afternoon after a day of sheepwork. Boeta returned to the family farm last year after completing his studies. The New Year is fast becoming the old year and the Dorper farming, is running smoothly as usual. Today the first flock of Dorpers were classed and worked through systematically. Tomorrow the other flocks will come in. Small rain clouds are trying to form clusters which might cause flash showers during the night. Mom , Chrisna, has already taken the empty coffee cups to the kitchen and will soon join the two men on the verandah to enjoy the peace and quite of nightfall on the farm. The two Kelpies are restlessly waiting on the lawn for their evening meal.

Without these two excellent dogs working with the sheep will be impossible. They easily replace two farm hands and to crown it the look after the farm house at night. The highlight of their day is running after the farm motorcycle when Boeta goes to monitor water, fences, veld conditions etc.

Although this farming enterprise is relying heavily on modern technology Dirk and his son believes that conservatism still has a place – especially when it comes to expenses and saving. “Yes son,” Dirk says, “ the Dorper really is an excellent commercial sheep to farm with. No wonder the record price last year was R270 000 for a Blackhead Dorper ram and the next best price R105 000 the latter was bought by an Australian if you don’t mind. The previous record price was R200 000 for a White Dorper ram. I wonder what the late Hennie de Smidt would have said about these prices?

These prices is proof of the value of a good stud ram in your breeding program. If you apply AI you increase the value of your ram. Buying rams is not as easy as it sounds – you must know the breed standard. The most important being conformation, size, fat distribution, colour, covering, type and of course breeding ability. Don’t ever forget about the ewe – they are also quite pricy these days and form the basis of good breeding – especially with the good mothering abilities the Dorper have.

I am so glad that we bought choice rams well adjusted to our area – especially now that we are applying BLUP. It works! No son, there is nothing to beat the Dorper. Look here it is- black on white – even in Switzerland the Dorper has found a place. Imagine – Dorpers in that cold part of the world! That is not all – the whole of Africa has got Dorpers and various other overseas countries too. According to statistics there are about 7 million Dorpers in South Africa. Boeta, we are so lucky that we persevered with our Dorper farming. It is a long term investment which shows high interest – just look where the meat prices are today. Even fat distribution and tasty meat is what you get – true value for money. Consumers love Dorper chops and are prepared to pay for the quality and flavour they get in the Dorper meat.”

“Shucks Dad, you sound like a TV commercial for Dorpers!” Are there no disadvantages in farming with Dorpers? People say they tramp out the veld more than other breeds.” “Man, do you still believe in that old wives tale?” Dirk replies. “Research has proved that according to footprint surfaces it is only cattle and the boer goat that trample the veld less per animal than the Dorper. A cow’s tramping factor is 45, the boer goat 75 and the Dorper is only 84. Other small stock is 95. The greater the tramping factor the greater the disturbance factor on the veld.”

“Yes Dad, but what about the walking distance? How many tracks does a Dorper make per 100 meter? The further an animal walk, the more tracks it makes. If an animal do not walk a lot it does not make a lot of tracks. “ Yes, Son you may have a point there – a Dorper ewe tramps 520 prints per 100 meter. According to the same research a Boer goat ewe walks 5,7 km per day. A Merino ewe 5,9 km per day and an Angora and Dorper 5,9 km per day. These figures may differ from month to month and from pasture type to pasture type. However, it shows how careful a farmer must be when it comes to the number of animals per hectare or the carrying capacity per hectare which is expressed in Large-stock units per hectare. You cannot replace 1000 Merino ewes with 100 Dorper ewes. If you do, your pastures will suffer – you must consider the relative food intake of each breed.

Thus the equivalent of 1000 Merino ewes are 830 Dorper ewes. The Meissner standard factor applies to all stock breeds. No matter where you farm these standards must be considered. There are other factors which should be taken into account for example the relative damage different breeds do to the grazing: a horse is reckoned as one of the most destructive pasture grazers although in size it is almost equal to cattle. To consider these factors you balance over-grazing between the different breeds. Walking of stock has a direct influence on the grazing. If the grazing is poor a sheep will be forced to walk more to find food in better grazing the animal will walk less.

Under drought conditions in poor pasture the animal will not be capable of walking far enough per day to find enough food and will therefore loose condition. You know, harsh bush pasture will cause the early aging of a sheep as the teeth wear down quicker due to the dry bush on which you find sand granules etc.

“But Dad, some people claim that the Dorper kills the pasture. On some farms where they farm with Dorpers you can see the pasture is badly over- grazed.” “Yes, it is true, but the biggest problem is that the pasture is over loaded – it may have been tramped out before the Dorpers were put there. Because the Dorper can utilize any kind of pasture he is now brought in to survive and has to carry the blame for previously ruined pasture.

The Dorper utilizes the pasture better because there are more kinds of plants that he will utilize. That is one of the reasons why the Dorper can adapt where other breeds cannot. It can enlarge it’s selective manner of grazing.

The karkoel and fat-tailed types also have this ability. You can keep a few more Dorpers on the pasture as they have a broader selection of plants which they eat and will utilize the pasture much better. I would personally never promote pushing up the numbers – you remember what happened to that valley camp when we put too many animals in there in the drought.

That pasture is only recovering now after three years – no man, use your sound judgment, follow the scientific guidelines of management like we have been doing the past 10 year – that is the safest. The Dorper remains a hardy well adapted animal for all types of grazing.”

“Actually you are right Dad. The Dorper was bred from the Dorset Horn and the Black Head Persian. The one is of European origin and the other is an indigenous breed. That is probably why the Dorper is so well adjusted to all kinds of grazing.

Just see how well uncle Izak from Griewaland – East is doing with his Dorpers on his planted grazing. On the other hand where do you find nicer sheep than those of uncle Albert where they run in the bushman grass in Kenhardt or those of uncle Rodney’s in the feed lot in the Fish River valley?

However the Dorper remains a sheep for extensive circumstances like here with us although it does well in the feed lot or in higher rainfall regions.” “That is true, son, but you must remember that MANAGEMENT is the alpha and omega of all stock farming.

Look at uncle Gerrit of Kliphoedjies – one of the first things he did was to supply clean drinking water and shade protection in his camps – there is a person who knows his pasture and grazing and has success with scientific grazing and animal management. You do not get to know your pasture from your vehicle – you must walk with your own two feet in the pasture.

Many years ago Mr Bosman, an authority and researcher on Dorpers at Grootfontein, clearly proved the value of shade protection. He had two lots of pregnant ewes. The one lot had shade protection and the other none. The result was that lambs with shade protection were 11% heavier and were ready to wean 21 days earlier than the other group. You also know from our own experience here at Perdoramskraal, all the sheep will not stand under the same shade protection. It is almost like feed troughs where you have the aggressive eaters and the shy eaters. The one lot eats the other’s food and therefore you have to spread the troughs out.

Where you have shelter you should rather have a few smaller shelters. Don’t forget the importance of shade trees. An animal uses a lot of energy to cool down and this causes loss in production. A comfortable and healthy animal is a productive animal. I read an article in the Karoo News letter with an excellent plan to create cheap but effective shade protection from the material available on your farm. It is very much like the shelter we put up in Dry-flats camp

It is also advisable not to have shelters near drinking troughs. Drinking troughs must make provision for at least 5 lit water per day per Dorper sheep, it can however be as little as 1.5 lit or as much as 7 lit depending on the season. I am embarrassed by some farmers who waste water with dirty troughs, leaking reservoirs and troughs. Dampness creates ideal circumstances for parasites and insects to breed.

Many boreholes are drying up in this country due to poor water management. Oom Jan from Bo-Karoo fixed very simple, automatic breaks to all his windmills which stop the windmill the moment the reservoir is full. The working time of the mill is shortened and wear and tear, breakage and water wastage is limited. The worst scenario is when shrubs and bushes are growing up against the reservoir wall. Replace a cracked wall – I have even seen reeds growing in the reservoir. LOOK, PRECAUTION, DAMAGE PREVENTION AND MANAGEMENT must always be on your mind. Prevention is better than cure!”

“Gheepers Dad, looks like to know all the practical things about small stock farming one should do a lot of reading and gain a lot of experience. If I look at some farmers it looks like they never read anything about farming and the latest developments, methods and techniques. I know for a fact that the literature available on Dorpers will take months to work through. They say knowledge is power but I can see that it is also money! I heard that Grootfontein’s web-site has all the important articles documented and it is available to all. Don’t forget the Dorper News and the Farmer’s weekly.”

“Talking about practical things, Son – have you learnt yet how to catch a sheep? Not at the bottom of the hind-leg. The correct way is just above the heel. If you Grab it below the heel you can sprain muscles and injure the sheep in such a way that it cannot walk properly for a while. It will then not be able to feed sufficiently either. Correct and easy handling is a MUST for all animals. It is these small things which often promote or suppress production. A sick sheep is an unproductive sheep. It is important to obtain diagnoses as soon as possible.

Look what happened to uncle Willem – when he became worried about the seven deaths, the loss was so big already that he might as well have gone to the Vet. from the start. Especially when it comes to internal parasites it is necessary to inoculate or vaccinate in time and to know exactly which parasite is causing the problem.

There is nothing wrong with routine vaccination, but it costs money. To keep costs low you must apply parasite-counts through dung samples. The necessary knowledge must be acquired. The minimum contamination level must be exceeded before it is necessary to dip, dose or inoculate. Don’t even talk about plant poisoning – as soon as you notice a problem with draw the stock from that camp immediately.

This normally happens early in spring when the pasture is dry or in autumn. To detect poisonous plants you have to know your plants. You spoke about reading just now, it does not matter what kind of remedy you are using – ALWAYS read the instructions carefully. Can you remember how many cattle oom Jors from Sneeuberg lost when he put too much pour-on on them and to crown it allowed them to graze in the sun afterwards!”

“Dad, you know, oom Johannes says the next drought is on the way. Really, I hope he is wrong – especially now that the disaster fund for farmers have been with drawn. My lecturer at College said a sheep farmer should, when a drought is apparent, reduce the number of sheep by marketing them or to plan supplementing their feed before they start losing weight. It is good to mark animals ( about twenty per flock) and weigh them regularly. In this way you can monitor the performance in the different camps and know exactly when they are starting to loose condition. By the way, Dad, I think we must seriously consider performance testing – I believe the Dorpers have an excellent program – Dorper 21.”

“Son, you must not come with stories of drought now – I just do not see chance for another session of feeding. With the last drought everybody fed lucerne, maize, pellets and roughage. You cannot just feed. My hair rises when I think how much valuable fodder is lost with a sloppy feeding system – it could be 155%. Where have you ever seen that you can throw maize and pellets out on the ground?

A few years ago farmer’s complained about acid stomach in sheep from feeding maize. No, when you feed you must follow a proper recipe and use proper troughs. I remember how the sheep died in Bushmanland when the farmer’s association held an emergency meeting to discuss the problem Uncle Koos Louw stood up and emptied a large paper packet with gravel on the table – about ¾ kg. He washed that from a dead sheep’s stomach that morning and it was due to maize thrown out on the ground for the poor sheep to feed on. The gravel caused blockage, the intestine could not function properly and the sheep could not feed efficiently and actually died of hunger.

You must provide decent troughs. Drought is not for sissies, but if your management is good your pasture will last better and recover sooner after the drought. Another thing which worries me is that farmers are planting spineless cactus but never utilize it in drought times. It should be chopped into small blocks and fed from suitable troughs.

The succulent composition of the cactus leaves also enables the animal to digest the roughage and dry pasture grazing more effectively. Luckily the interest in Old man’s salt bush is increasing - where could you find a better drought feed?

Unfortunately the salt bush is not always palatable – but under serious drought conditions stock will eat almost anything. In the north-west farmers have even milled the different invasive thorn bushes for roughage. No, you must know your come and go in a drought- energy licks are good but very expensive. Where did we put that pamphlet on drought feeding from Grootfontein? With good pasture management you can delay a pasture fodder shortage and save money.”

“We are lucky Dad, we have already implemented this grazing system for ten years. See how good our pasture looks. I can still remember how worried you where about the condition of the pasture and the large open spaces in between the plants. This group-camp system with combination of different camp-systems and special treatment of pasture certainly provide a greater freedom and flexibility to manage the pasture combined with our stock management. Even that camp where we applied the intensive short grazing method is looking excellent after the long rest period.

Do you know Dad, there are farmers who do well with the wagon wheel principle. Animals are moved in rotation ever so often. What worries me about that is the amount of money spent on fencing. One farmer is putting up lower and cheaper fences and that seems to word. Others use electrical, mobile divisions – this works well on farms where the intensive short grazed method is used.

I prefer the more extensive management system which have been tried and tested over the years. The intensive system needs more attention. With the high cost of fencing today I am glad that we have already established our fences. I believe a fence can cost as much as R 8 000 per km. I whish there were guidelines for camp sizes in the different regions as well as the optimum distances between drinking troughs. It seems that there is a sound idea of the general carrying capacity – even if it is just a guideline.

“Yes, Son, there are many opinions and methods and techniques to utilize pasture and to promote recovery. There is also the financial gain on your investment. One thing remains, irrespective of the system you use, it is important to maintain the stock numbers within the long term grazing capacity of the farm and to ensure that the resting periods in between grazing is sufficient to allow the plants to grown again before you use the grazing again.

Fortunately pasture rotation automatically provides for both. It is important to not to include planted pastures in the grazing capacity on natural pastures. Another thing is to remain within limits – adjust stock numbers according to rainfall upward or down ward. You cannot farm with the same amount of stock when the rainfall is under normal. When it rains well the capacity climbs. You know there are simple calculations which must be done to to know how far toe increase or decrease your stock.

I hear little Willem of uncle Willem is now working on that computer management program on CD which almost makes all the decisions on carrying capacity, stock numbers and camp systems easier. It shows the risks in small stock farming. They even made provision for the market prices, rain fall etc. It seems we will also soon have to incorporate this system into our farming.

The computer has come to stay and it is also very valuable to get information on all Agricultural matters. “Yes Dad, the time that we can just rely on experience has passed. Times have changed so much that farming is a highly specialized Business and only after that a Lifestyle. Record keeping is the order of the day especially as far as income and expenses go. Prior planning and adjustable budgets are necessary.

Our lecturer said that the importance of financial security by having a nest egg – this includes save up fodder and sound financial investments. He used to say that progeny is the basis of financial security in small stock farming. We are fortunate that our Dorpers maintained a lambing percentage of over 130% the past years. It is of course due to our management and also the use of teaser rams. A ewe that skipped a season just isn’t worth having.

We also know that to produce a healthy fast growing lamb it is essential that the pregnant ewe receives good feed three or four weeks before lambing en three to six weeks after lambing also to ensure good milk production for rearing an early matured, market ready lamb. Do you know they claim that an ewe in a weight gaining cycle comes in heat stronger and mates easier.

That proves that ewes must receive good feed before mating. The Dorper, due to it’s fertile nature, can have rams in the flock on a permanent basis. The advantage in this practice is that in arid areas the lambs do not all have to utilize the sparse grazing at the same time. It is however, much better to have orderly lambing seasons.”

“Son, tell met something I do not know. You know, one of the most important articles I have ever read was on this so-called perinatal period. I remember that they claimed research has proved that the muscle tissue of a lamb is shaped in the last period of pregnancy or the first period after birth . The funny part is that such a lamb can later become thinner, but when it gains weight again it will have more meat than fat.

A lamb that suffered might get to the same weight but will have a larger percentage of fat and will grade down. You know, a mature ram reaches a weight of 100-12- kg and a mature ewe the weight of 75-85 kg on normal pastures. At 3½-4 months a slaughter lamb should, with good management, have reached a weight of 36 kg live weight and 16 kg slaughtered. Yes, management is almost everything but without good rain no farmer can manage.

They say a good manager is one who cares for his stock, his workers and his farm. Planning is always the pass-word : short, medium and long term aims must be set. Your attitude must also be correct, compassion, constructive work and responsibility have always produced good results. Between yourself, your pasture and your income there is only the Dorper as the processor of the pasture to a marketable product – thus – look after both!”

“Come on you two guys !” Mother calls out “ Wash your hands and get to the table!We are having supper earlier this evening . I must still bring the stock and financial records up to date before we can decide how many wethers can be loaded tomorrow.

There is still the vaccinations and inoculating to be finished. Janneman is also coming tomorrow to hear about the lynx and jackal which have been catching sheep in the Mountain camp. We can be glad we are farming with Dorpers – a low risk sheep with high resistance to pest and plagues. I heard from Marie that they call Dorpers “easy-care” sheep in the Free State. Not that it is always that easy but still, give me the Dorper ( the master of sheep breeds!) and you will have peace of mind and money in your pocket.

Gee My Die Dorper…………

Dr Piet Roux Middelburg Ooskaap

Boeta en Pa Dirk sit laat middag op die stoep na ‘n dag van skaapwerk. Boeta is verlede jaar terug van die tegnikon om permanent te kom boer op die familieplaas Perdoramskraal. Nuwejaar lê maande al agter die rug en die Dorperboerdery is, soos altyd, goed op dreef. Vandag is die eerste trop Dorpers deeglik en rustig deurgewerk en geklas. Môre kom die ander trope aan die beurt. Die jong wolkies peuter al om saam te pak om hopelik dalk vannag of môre vir ‘n jaloers-buitjie te sorg.

Vrou Chrisna het reeds die leë koppies kombuis-toe gevat en kom netnoumaar by die twee aansluit. Die twee Kelpies lê onrustig op die grasperk – sonder hierdie twee voortreflike skaaphonde sal dit maar broekskeur gegaan het met die aankeer en hantering van die skape. Hierdie honde vervang maklik twee plaaswerkers en daarby pas hulle nog die werf ook op! Hulle is veral lief om agter die veldmotorfiets aan te hardloop wanneer Boeta gaan om die veldtoestand te monitor en die skaap, waters en kampdrade na te gaan. Hoewel die boerdery ingestel is op moderne tegnologie glo Dirk en Boeta dat konserwatisme steeds sy plek het – veral as dit kom by die uitgawes en spaarsamigheid!

“Ja-nee, ou seun”, sê Dirk, “kyk nou net weer vir die Dorper darem as voortreflike kommersiële boerskaap. Geen wonder dat die rekordprys verlede jaar R270 000 vir ‘n Swartkop Dorper stoetram was nie en die een daarnaas R105 000 en dit nogal deur ‘n Australianer aangekoop. Die vorige rekordprys was R200 000 vir ‘n Wit Dorperram. Ek wonder wat wyle oom Hennie hieroor sou gesê het? Hierdie pryse is bewys van hoe, hoog die waarde van ‘n stoetram vir aanteel geag word en as jy nou KI toepas dan vermenigvuldig jy jou ram se waarde veelvoudig.

As jy ram koop moet jy jou stories ken veral wat die rasstandaarde aanbetref. Die belangrikste, soos jy dalk reeds weet, is bouvorm, grootte, distribusie van vet, kleurpatroon, haarbedekking, tipe en daarby natuurlik doeltreffende teelvermoë ‘n Mens moet darem nie die ooi weggooi nie – hulle gaan ook al ‘n allemintige prys en is die basis vir ordentlike en gesonde aanteel – veral met hulle voortreflike moedereienskappe. Dit is ‘n goeie ding dat ons ook uitsoek ramme gekoop het wat by ons omgewing aangepas is, veral noudat ons die Blup-program toepas. Dit werk, hoor! Nee wat, ou seun, die Dorper klop jy nie.

Kyk, hier staan dit swart op wit – selfs in Switserland het die Dorper al vasskopplek gekry. Verbeel jou – Dorpers in dié koue wêreld! Dis ook nie al nie – die hele Afrika wemel al van die Dorpers tot ook in allerlei oorsese lande. Volgens statistieke is daar byna sewe miljoen Dorpers in Suid Afrika . Ek sê jou Boeta, ons is gelukkig dat ons oor die jare met ons Dorperboerdery volgehou het. Dit is soos ‘n langtermyn belegging teen hoë rentekoerse – kyk waar staan die vleispryse vandag! Waar wil jy nou in elk geval ‘n beter karkas kry as die van ‘n Dorperskaap?

Egalige vetdistribusie en smaaklike vleis, hier is dit beslis ‘n geval van duurkoop is inderdaad goedkoop want jy kry méér as waarvoor jy betaal. Die verbruikers is gaande daaroor en hulle is ook meer as bereid om vir die kwaliteit en smaaklikheid te betaal.”

“Aag nee wat Pa,” sê Boeta “Pa gaan darem nou heeltemaal oorboord met die lofbetuigings oor die Dorper. Dit is wel waar dat vandat ons met Dorpers boer is ons boerdery uiters winsgewend en was dit nog nooit beter nie, maar wat van al die ander nadele wat die Dorper omgeef soos dat dit die veld meer uittrap as ander kleinveerasse?”

“Man, laat jy jouself nog deur daardie ou storie mislei ?” antwoord Dirk, “Navorsing het baie duidelik gewys dat volgens spoortrapoppervlaktes dit net ‘n Bees en die boerboek is wat enigsins veld, per dier, minder vertrap as die Dorper. Waar die koei se vertrappingsfaktor 45 is en die boerbok sin 75, is die van die Dorper slegs 84. Die ander kleinveerasse is van ongeveer 95 en meer . Hoe groter die faktor hoe meer steurkrag oefen die dier op die grondoppervlakte uit.”

“Ja Pa, maar wat van die loopafstand? Hoeveel spore trap ‘n Dorper op 100 meter? Hoe verder die dier loop hoe meer spore trap hy. As ‘n dier nie baie loop nie dan trap hy mos nie.”

“Boeta, jy het ‘n punt daar – ‘n Dorperooi trap 520 spore per 100 meter. Volgens dieselfde navorsing loop ‘n boerbokooi 5,7 kilometer per dag, ‘n Merino-ooi 5,9 kilometer ‘n Angora-kapater en ‘n Dorper 5,9 km per dag. Almal onder dieselfde veldomstandighede. Hierdie syfers kan natuurlik verskil van maand tot maand en van veldsoort tot veldsoort.

Dit wys jou egter net hoe versigtig ‘n boer moet wees wanneer dit by die toepas van die getal diere per hektaar kom of te wel drakragnorme wat as hektaar per Grootvee-eenheid uitgedruk word. Jy kan bv. nie ‘n duisend Merino -ooie met ‘n duisend Dorper-ooie vervang nie. As jy dit doen sal jou veld daaronder ly – jy moet die relatiewe inname vir die verskillende rasse in aanmerking neem. Dus vir die 1000 merinos, sal die dorperekwivalent 830 wees.

Vir alle veerasse is die Meissner standaardfaktore opgestel. Waar ‘n mens ookal boer sal hierdie standaarde vir die veeladings in ag geneem moet word. Daar is natuurlik ander faktore wat nie hier in aanmerking geneem is nie, soos byvoorbeeld die relatiewe skade wat veesoorte aan die veld aanrig; soos die perd byvoorbeeld wat as een van die mees destruktiewe veldvreters bestempel kan word alhoewel dit feitlik gelyk aan die bees gestel word.

Nogtans, om hierdie faktore in ag te neem balanseer vertrapping nogal taamlik uit tussen die veerasse. Die lopery het ook direk betrekking op die veldtoestand. Hoe swakker die weiding hoe meer sal die skaap loop en hoe beter die weiding hoe minder sal geloop word. Daar is egter ‘n limiet aan loopafstand per dag. Dit beteken dat as die veld te swak of te droog is, kan die dier nie ver genoeg loop om in sy daaglikse voedingsbehoeftes te voorsien nie en verloor dan vinnig kondisie.

Jy weet, swak bossieveld verouder ‘n skaap gouer as gevolg van verhoogde tandslytasie wat volg op die vreet van die bossies waarop sandkorrels aan die taaierige blare kleef.”

“Maar Pa, die mense sê die Dorper vreet die veld dood. Op sommige plase waar met Dorpers geboer word is die veld nogal kwaai afgevreet en uitgetrap.”

“Ja , dit is waar maar van die belangrikste redes hiervoor is dat sulke veld beslis oorlaai is – was dalk reeds uitgetrap deur ander vee wat nie meer daar kon oorleef nie en omdat die Dorper so ‘n voortreflike benutter van veld is en nie so gou soos ander rasse swaarkry nie, word hy nou daar ingebring en dra die skuld vir die vertrapping.”

Die Dorper is in staat om weiding veel beter te benut omdat hy meer verskillende plante vreet. Dit is een van die redes waarom die Dorper kan oorleef waar ander rasse tou opgooi. Hy kan sy selektiewe weigewoontes uitbrei.

Die karakoel en vetstertskape wat by ariede omstandighede aangepas is het ook hierdie voortreflike eienskap. ‘n Mens kan ‘n fraksie meer Dorpers op die veld laai reeds omdat hulle ‘n wyer spesieseleksie het en daardeur die veld volledig benut. Ek sal dit egter nooit waag om getalle op te stoot nie – jy onthou wat laas gebeur het in die vleikamp toe ons dit te swaar gelaai het.

Daardie veld sukkel nou nog, na drie jaar, om na behore te herstel. Nee man, bly by jou gesonde oordeel en volg die wetenskaplike riglyne vir bestuur soos ons die afgelope tien jaar reeds doen. Die Dorper bly egter ‘n geharde en aangepaste skaap vir feitlik alle weidingsomstandighede.”

“Eintlik is Pa reg. Die Dorper is mos geteel uit die Dorset Horn en die Swartkop Persie. Die een is van Europese oorsprong en die ander ‘n inheemse ras. Dit is seker hoekom alle soorte weiding gepas is vir ’n Dorper. Kyk net hoe gedy om Isak van Griekwaland-Oos se Dorpers op sy aangeplante weiding.

Aan die ander kant waar wil jy mooier skape sien as oom Albert se Dorpers op die boesmangrasveld daar in Kenhardt of oom Rodney se voerkraal Dorpers in die Visriviervallei? Die Dorper bly egter ‘n skaap vir Ekstensiewe weivelde soos hier by ons maar dit is ook ‘n ideale voerkraalskaap en selfs geskik vir die hoë reënval grasvelde.”

“Dit is alles so”, beaam Dirk, “maar jy moet ook verstaan dat BESTUUR die begin en einde van ‘n suksesvolle kleinveeboerdery is waar jy ookal boer. Kyk maar vir oom Gerrit van Kliphoedjies. Een van die eerste dinge wat hy gedoen het was om te sorg dat daar voldoende skoon veewaters in al die kampe is asook koelteskuilings. Praat nou van ‘n veldkenner, suksesvol met wetenskaplike veld- en veebestuur. Jy leer nie veld ken uit ‘n bakkie nie – jy moet met jou twee voete in die veld loop.

Jare gelede het Mnr Bosman, ‘n Dorperkenner en navorser op Grootfontein, baie duidelik die waarde van koelte bewys. Hy het twee troppe dragtige Dorper ooie vergelyk. Die een trop met koelteskuiling en die ander daarsonder. Die resultaat was dat die koeltelammers 11% swaarder geweeg het en 21 dae vroeër gespeen kon word. Jy weet ook al uit eie ondervinding dat hier by ons op Perdoramskraal al die skape nie onder dieselfde skuiling staan nie. Dit is amper soos by voerkrippe waar jy agresiewe vreters en skaam vreters kry.

Die een lot vreet die ander se kos op dit is hoekom jy die voer- en lekkrippe moet versprei. Waar jy skuiling oprig is dit beter om ‘n aantal kleiner skuilings te maak as een grote dan kan die ’skaamkoelters’ ook uit die bakkende son kom. Moet nie koeltebome vergeet nie. Julle het mos geleer dat ‘n dier nogal heelwat energie verbruik om aft e koel – dus ‘n verlies aan produksie. ‘n Gemaklik en gesonde dier is ‘n produktiewe dier. Ek het ‘n artikel in die Karoonuusbrief gelees van ‘n uitstekende plan vir goedkoop, maar doeltreffende koelteskuilin wat uit die beskikbare materiaal op die plaas gebou kan word. Dit is amper soos die skuiling wat ons hier in die Droëvlakte-kamp opgerig het. Dit is ook meer voordelig om skuilings nie naby suipings op te rig nie.

Suipings moet voorsiening maak vir ongeveer 5 liter water per dag vir ‘n volwasse Dorper, dit kan egter so laag wees as 1,5 lit. per dag tot soveel as 7 lit. per dag afhangende van die seisoen. Ek skaam my vir sommige boere wat so mors met water – vuil krippe en lekkasies rondom damme en krippe. Nattigheid skep ideale toestande vir inwendige parasiete en lastige insekte. Praat van watermors! Baie boorgate is besig om die een na die ander in te gee en ook erg te verbrak.

Ek dink ons moet ook maak soos oom Jan uit Bo-karoo wat al sy windpompe van eenvoudige outomatiese remme voorsien het sodat die windpomp rem sodra die dam vol is. Die werktyd van die pomp word aansienlik verkort en slytasie, breekasies en watervermorsing beperk .

Die ergste is wanneer bosse en ander groot struike teen sementdamwalle groei. Vervang nou so ‘n gekraakte dam…..Ek het al selfs gesien dat die dam vol fluitjiesriet gegroei is. KYK, VOORSORG, VERLIESVOORKOMING EN –BESTUUR moet gedurig in jou agterkop wees. Voorsorg is goedkoper as nasorg.” “Kragtie Pa, dit lyk my om al hierdie praktiese dinge oor kleinveeboerdery te leer verg nogal taamlike ondervinding en leeswerk. As mens na sommige boere kyk lyk dit vir my of hulle gladnie lees oor boerdery en die nuutste metodes en tegnieke nie.

Ek weet vir ‘n feit dat die beskikbare literatuur oor Dorpers maande sal neem om deur te werk. Hulle sê mos kennis is mag maar kennis is ook geld! Ek het gehoor dat Grootfontein se webtuiste omtrent al wat ‘n belangrike artikel is gedokumenteer het – dit is vir almal beskikbaar. Moet nie die Dorpernuus en Landbouweekblad vergeet nie! ”

“Van praktiese dinge gepraat, Boeta – het jy nou geleer hoe om ‘n skaap te vang? Beslis nie onderaan die agterbeen nie Die regte manier is net bokant die haakskeen. As jy hom onder die haakskeen vang dan kan verrekking van senings en spiere plaasvind wat veroorsaak dat die skaap – veral die ooie – tydelik daarna nie genoegsaam kan loop om sy dag se voerbehoefte te bevredig nie. Korrekte en gemaklike hantering is ’n MOET by alle veesoorte. Dit is hierdie ou klein dingetjies wat soms veeproduksie bevorder of onderdruk. So ook is ‘n siek skaap ‘n onproduktiewe skaap

Met ‘n siek dier is dit noodsaaklik om so gou moontlik ‘n diagnose te kry. Kyk wat het met oom Willem gebeur – toe hy begin bekommerd raak oor die sewe vrektes, was sy verlies reeds so groot dat hy maar net so wel met die eerste simptome na die veearts kon gery het om ‘n diagnose en voorskirf te kry. Veral as dit kom by inwendige parasiete is dit nodig om vroegtydig te doseer of in te ent – dit is as jy weet watter parasite of siekte dit is. Daar is nie fout met roetine inentings nie, maar man, dit kos geld. Om kostes lag te hou moet gebruik gemaak word van parasiettellings in die mis of ingewande – die nodige kundigheid is nodig en moet aangeleer word.

Daar moet ‘n oorskreiding van ‘n minimum besmettingsvlak wees voordat dit noodsaaklik word om te doseer of te dip en daarvoor moet jou veearts gebruik word. Moenie eers praat van plantvergiftiging nie – soodra jy onraad merk moet die vee onttrek word uit die kamp. Dit kom gewoonlik vroeg in die lente voor – veral as die veld droog is of dalk in die herfs. Om gifplante op te spoor moet jy jou plante ken. Jy het netnou gepraat van lees – maak nie saak watter spuit-, gif of entstof jy gebruik nie – LEES altyd die etikette sorgvuldig. Kan jy nog onthou hoeveel bees oom Jors van Sneeuberg verloor het met sy opgietmiddel wat te sterk aangewend was en toe boonop die bees in die son laat wei het daarna”

“Pa weet, oom Johannes sê die droogte lê al weer net hier anderkant die bult. Sowaar, ek hoop hy is verkeerd veral noudat die ramdroogtehulp feitlik permanent vir die boere van die baan is. My lektor het gesê dat ‘n skaapboer behoort, wanneer ‘n droogte oëenskynlik besig is om te ontwikkel, vee te verminder deur bemarking of te begin planne maak om te voer as die skape begin afval.

Dit is voordeling om diere te merk, so ongeveer twintig per trop en gereeld te weeg. So kan mens tred hou met die veeprestasie in die verskillende kampe en weet wanneer hulle begin gewig verloor. Terloop Pa, ek dink ons moet beslis nou dringend aandag skenk aan Prestasietoetsing – ek hoor die Dorpers het ‘n oulike program Dorper 21.

“Boeta jy moet nou nie lol met droogtevoorspooksels nie. Vir ‘n voerdery sien ek nie kans nie. Met die laaste droogte het al wat boer is mielies, lusern ruvoer en pille gevoer. Jy kannie sommer net voer nie. My hare rys as ek sien hoeveel kosbare voer met ‘nslordige voerdery verlore gaan – hulle sê dit kan tot 155 wees.

Waar het jy ooit in jou lewe gesien jy gooi mielies en voerpille op die grond uit vir die vee! So ‘n klompie jare gelede het die boere wat mielies gevoer het gekla oor suurpens by die skape. Nee, as jy voer moet jy die regte resep volg – soos in gevalle die voorsiening van voerkalk. Ek onthou nog goed hoe skape op hope gevrek het in die wes-Boesmanland met ‘n mielievoerdery. Die Boerevereniging het ‘n noodvergadering belê en groot was die vergadering se verbasing toe oom Koos Louw ‘n groterige papiersak vol gruis op die voorsitter se tafel uitgooi – so ¾ kg.

Die gruis het hy die oggend uit ‘n gevrekte skaap se grootpens uitgewas. Dit het gekom van mielies op die grond strooi! Die gruis het verhoed dat die pens na wense funksioneer en het die effektiewe volume verklein en ook verstopping veroorsaak – die skaap het dus nie genoeg voeding ingekry nie en het letterlik van honger gedood. As jy voer moet jy geskikte krippe voorsien. Droogte is nie elke ou se maat nie maar dit is ook so dat goed bestuurde veld verder in die droogte kan hou voordat gevoer moet word en dat so ‘n veld ook vinniger sal produseer na die droogte.

Hier speel opslag in party velde nogal ‘n belangrike rol en ‘n Dorper skrik mos ook nie vir steekgras nie. ‘n Ander ding wat my pla is dat boere kaalblad turksvye aanplant vir droogtebystand maar dit staan onbenut in die veld. Dorpers kan die blaaie direk benut maar dit is beter as dit in blokkies gekap word en in krippe gevoer word – selfs gemeng met ander ruvoer. Die sukkulente samestelling van die blaaie dra ook daartoe by dat droë veld en ruvoer baie meer doeltreffend verteer word. Gelukkig neem belangstelling in Oumansoutbos ook nou toe – waar kry jy ‘n beter voeding in droogte?

Ongelukkig is soutbos nie te alle tye smaaklik vir vee nie, maar in ‘’n ernstige droogte sal vee feitlik enige ding vreet – in die Noordweste het boere selfs die drie-doring, kriedoring en brosdoring gemaal vir ruvoer. Nee man, jy moet jou sit-en-staan ken in droogte –energielekke is ‘n hulp maar duur! Waar is daardie pamflet oor droogtevoeding van Grootfontein? Met goeie veldbestuur kan jy nogal ‘n veldvoertekort vertraag en besparings met voorgee bewerkstellig.”

“Ons is gelukkig, Pa dat ons alreeds tien jaar op die weidingstelsel is. Kyk hoe mooi lyk die veld. Ek kan nog goed onthou hoe bekommerd Pa was met die skraalheid van die veld en groop oop spasies en kaal kolle tussen die plante. Hierdie groepkampstelsel met sy kombinasies van verskillende kampstelsels en spesiale veldbehandelings verksaf inderdaad die grootste veldbestuursvryheid en buigsaamheid gekombineer met ons veebestuur.

Sels daardie kamp wat ons die intensiewe korvreetbehandeling gegee het lyk uitstekend na sy lang rus tydperk. Weet Pa, daar is boere wat met hierdie wa-wieluitleg nogal goed doen. Elke soveel dae word die trop in rotasie verskuif. Wat my egter hinder is die koste verbonde aan al die drade. Een boer span hierdie lae en goedkoper kampdrade en dit lyk of dit werk.

Ander maak weer gebruik van verskuifbare elektriese heinings – dit werk goed op plase waar intensiewe kortvreet toegepas word – ek verkies egter ons meer ekstensiewe veldbestuurselsels wat oor jare proefondervindelik getoets is. Die intensiewe stelsels verg meer bestuursaandag. Met vandag se hoë koste van draadheining is ek bly dat ons vroegtydig ons kampe gespan het en van water voorsien het. Weet Pa , ek hoor ‘n heining kos tans R8 000 per kilometre.

Ek wens daar was riglyne vir kampgroottes in die verskillende reënvalstreke asook optimum afstande tussen suipings vir die verskillende streke. Dit lyk egter of die algemene drakragte min of meer onder die knie gekry is – al is dit soms net goeie riglyne.”

“Ja Boetman, daar is so baie opinies en metodes en tegnieke om die veld deeglik te benut en daarby ook nog veldontwikkeling en herstel te verkry. Dan is daar ook nog die finansiële rendemente vir jou insette. Een ding bly soos ‘n paal bo water staan, ongeag die stelsel wat jy uitvoer, dit is om veegetalle binne die langtermyn weikapsiteite van die plaas te handhaaf en om te sorg dat die rusperiodes na beweiding voldoende is om plantegroei te laat hergroei voordat jy die veld weer benut.

Gelukkig maak die wisselweidingstelsels outomaties voorsiening vir albei. Dit is belangrik om nie landerye aangeplante weidings by die veld se weikapasiteit in te reken nie. ‘n ander ding is om die binne limietes, veegetalle volgens die reënval op fo afwaarts aan te pas – jy kan nie met dieselfde getal vee wei as die reënval onder normal is nie want dan word die veld oorbenut. As dit goed gereën het styg die kapasiteit. Jy weet daar is nogal maklike berekeninge wat uitgevoer kan word om vas te stel hoe ver om vee te verminder of vermeerder.”

Ek hoor Kleinwillem van oom Willem is nou op hierdie nuwe rekenaarbestuurprogram op CD wat feitlik al die meoilike besluite oor drakragte, veegetalle en kampstelsels vergemaklik. Dit wys ook die risikos verbonde aan kleinveeboerdery. Daar word glo selfs voorsiening gemaak vir die intik van markpryse, reënval ensomeer. Dit lyk my ons sal ook speodig om hierdie program moet inskakel as ons die boerdery uitbrei. Die rekenaar het gekom om te bly – dit is glo veral uiters waardevol om op Agri AS se webwerf in te skakel om op hoogte te bly met nuwe wette en regulasies, market, vendusies, vergaderings ensomeer asook internasionale navorsingsresultate.”

“Ja Pa, die tyd is verby dat ons net op ondervinding kan staatmaak. Tye het nou so verander dat ‘n boerdery eerstens ‘n hoogs gespesialiseerde besigheid geword het en eers daarna ‘n Leefwyse. Rekordhouding is aan die orde van die dag, veral wat inkomstes en uitgawes betref, vooruitbeplanning en aanpasbare begroting is noodsaaklik.

Ons lector het veral klem gelê op die finansiële sekuriteit in terme van ‘n neseier – soos ook dalk ‘n voerbank- vir terugslae, asook ander veilige beleggings. Hy het gesê dat aanteel eintlik die basis van ‘n finansieël suksesvolle kleinveeboerdery is. Ons is gelukkig dat ons Dorpers al oor die afgelope jare ‘n lampersentasie van oor die 130% gehadhaaf het.

Dit is natuurlik ons bestuur – ook onder andere waar ons gebruik gemaak het van ou Siller en die ander koggelramme. Kyk, ‘n ooi wat oorslaan se dae is getel. On sweet ook uit ondervinding, om ‘n gesonder en sterk produserende lam voort te bring is dit noodsaaklik dat die dragtige ooi ten minste drie of vier weke voor lam goeie voeding ontvang en drie tot ses weke daarna ook goeie weiding sodat die lam goed kan groei en vroeg bemark kan word.

Weet Pa hulle sê dat ‘n ooi sterker op hitte kom en makliker ram vat as haar gewig op ‘n stygende tendens is. Dit dui aan dat ooie vroegtydig voor paring op goeie weiding of veld toegelaat moet word. Die Dorper, weens sy vrugbare aard, is ook geskik dat die ramme voortdurend tussen die ooie kan loop die voordeel hieraan verbonde, veral in die streke waar reënvalle baie laag is, dat die lammers nie terselfdertyd die skrapse weiding gelyktydig benut nie. Ons BLY egter by die geordende paar en lamseisoene”

“Boeta man, vertel my iets wat ek nie weet nie. Jy weeet, een van die belangrikste artikels wat ek nog gelees het, het reeds met hierdie sogenaamde perinatale periode te doen. Ek onthou dat daar in die voormalige tydskrif VLEIS ‘n artikel was oor navorsing wat baie duidelik gewys het dat speirweefsel by die lam gedurende die later periode van dragtigheid en die eerste paar weke na geboorte vasgelê word. Die aardigheid is dat so ‘n lam later maer kan word, maar as dit weer gewig optel is dit met meer vleis en minder vet.

‘n Lam wat swaargekry het kan dalk op dieselfde gewig kom, maar het dan ‘n baie groter persentasie vet en grader af. Jy weet ;n volwasse ram bereik ‘n gewig van 100 – 120 kg en ‘n volwasse ooi 75 – 85 kilogram en dit van die veld af. Op 3½ - 4 maande behoort ‘n slaglam met goeie bestuur ‘n gewig van 36 kg te bereik en ‘n slaggewig van 16 kg. Ja jong, BESTUUR is byna alles maar sonder reën kan geen boer ooit klaarkom nie.

Hulle sê ‘n goeie bestuurder is een wat omgee vir sy vee, sy werkers en sy plaas. Beplanning is allerwee die wagwoord: kort, medium en langtermyn doelwitte moet gestel word. Jou gesindheid moet ook reg wees: deernis, konstruktiewe werk en verantwoordelikheid het nog altyd goeie vrugte afgewerp. Tussen jou, die veld en jou inkomste staan net jou Dorper as die doeltreffende verwerker van veldvoer na bemarkbare produkte – so, pas albei op!”

“Nou toe-toe, kom julle twee” waarsku Chrisna. “Was julle hande en maak reg vir ete. Ons eet vanaand vroeër want ek wil die vee- en finansiële rekords op datum kry en ons moet saam besluit hoeveel hamels more gelaai moet word. Dan nog ook die inentings en doserings wat gedoen moet word. Janneman kom more om te hoor in verband met die rooikat en die twee jakkalse wat vee in Bergkamp gevang het.

Ons kan waarlik bly wees ons boer met Dorpers; ‘n lae risiko skaap en een wat meer bestand is teen peste en plae. Ek hoor nou die dag by Marie-hulle dat hulle in die Vrystaat van die Dorpers as die “easy care” skaap praat. Nie dat dit altyd so maklik gaan nie, maar tog, gee my die Dorper, (die baasskaap vir my!) en jy het gemoedsrus en geld in jou sak!”

Tien Jordaan

A young farmer once sent in a questionnaire on how to start with Dorper farming One of our inspectors, Tien Jordaan, replied in a user-friendly manner.

  1. How often, how, when and against what must I inoculate or dose my sheep. We have lots of ticks. Please do not give scientific names but brand names.

Reply: It is advisable to contact your local vet as parasites differ from region to region. In the meantime, my advise would be to use a broad spectrum remedy every six to eight weeks. I use Valbantel and Ivomec which I alternate. It is important to dose against Nasal worm in the middle of winter when this parasite is in a dormant stage. We find Ranide the best. Although the broad spectrum remedies are supposed to cover nasal worm it is advisable to keep a can of Ranide handy to dose those sheep who show signs of nasal worm infestation immediately.

Lambs are dosed at 8 weeks and again at 12 weeks or older. I first give Valbantel and Lintex and with the second dose Ivomec and Lintex. PLEASE NOTE - DO NOT MIX THE DOSE.

TO CONTROL TICKS THE BEST METHOD IS STILL to dip every two weeks. By applying this method I have ticks on my farm totally under control. Products such as Bostan, Sumifleece, Paracide, Bayticol can be used – ask at you local co-op for advice. Bayticol sterilizes the female tick.

  1. How often, how , when and against what must I inoculate?

Reply: The three inoculations which must definitely be done is Pasturella, Pulpey Kidney ( twice a year) and Rev 1 – Brucella Ovis for ram lambs My program is as follows: All ewes are done every 6 months for Pulpey Kidney and Pasturella and also for Pasturella blue udder four weeks before lambing. Straight after lambing we do Blue tongue strictly according to prescription. All lambs get Pasturella at age 2 weeks and again at six weeks. At three months we do Rev 1 and Pulpey kidney and at six months we do Blue tongue.

You must however find out from you local vet which diseases appear in your area and which remedies must be used. Read all instructions on remedies well and follow the instructions with care.

  1. Is it true that sheep must only be let out of the pens late in the morning and if so, why?

Reply: My experience is that sheep prefer to graze in the cool early morning or late afternoon. They rest in the shade during the warmest part of the day. The perception that sheep must not graze in the dew must stem from a problem with foot-rot which is caused by excess damp. If you have a problem with that, it is advisable to always add zink sulphate to your dip ( 5 kg on 1000 liter water) Trim the hooves regularly too.

  1. How must the ideal sheep crawl be planned, erected and administered including foot-baths, dips, place for lambing ewes, race, water – and feed troughs and whatever else is needed which I do not know about. Plans available from Colleges of the Society.

  2. Why do I get more ram lambs than ewe lambs? Is it punishment for my sins or can it be controlled?

Reply: There is no way by which the sex of lambs can be determined. It is general that over a year 50% will be ewes and 50% rams.

  1. How does a person know whether a new born lamb is healthy and whether or not you have to give additional bottle feeding? What do you feed with – cow’s milk?

Reply: When a lamb is weak or appears flat in the stomach the causes can be Starvation due to lack of milk. First examine the ewes udder to see whether there is enough , clean milk. If the milk is OK the lamb must be sick and the vet can be called in. NB If the ewe’s milk is not good ( watery, lumpy, infected or not present) the lamb will probably have to be reared by hand. The best to use is Surromel or something similar. Often only one side of the udder is affected and the ewe will rear one lamb but not twins. NB A ewe with mastitis ( infection of the udder) must be treated under instructions of a vet. On the first day of lactation the ewe produces Colostrum which is yellowish and greasy in appearance. This is quite normal.

7 & 8 Must lambs be tailed? Castration ?

Reply: There are various reasons why tails are amputated. One being preventing flies from entering under the tail and laying eggs which then cause infections. I dock tails at 2 weeks of age and castrate the lambs that must be done at the same time. I use castrating rings for both purposes. To castrate, ensure that both testicles are in the scrotum and pull the elastic right over to the narrowing of the scrotum. It is important not to dock tails too short . Apply elastic about 15 mm from the body over the tail. Both tail and testicle rings must then be sprayed well with healing- / wound oil to keep flies away and should be repeated until the body-parts fall off and is healed.

  1. What must sheep be fed with? We have lots of grass and they are fat, but what should I plant as additional feed when I want to keep more sheep per hectare? What about kikuyu or life grass which they advertise so much? I have a little bit of bana-grass but I think it is too tall for a sheep.

Reply: I find dry, baled Lucerne is always a good feed which can be given at any time. The Dorper is not a selective grazer and can utilize most grasses and green feed provided there is enough of it winter and summer. You may find a lick in block form useful seeing that such grasses lack quite a bit of the essential elements. I find that sheep on green feed also need dry feed. It is therefore a good practice to also put out a bale of dry Lucerne in the day as well as in the crawl at night.

  1. Should I leave the ram between the ewes and let nature take it’s course or must I interfere? Agricultural publications speak of the group method, hand method and sponging but this is all Greek to me! What does it mean, which method must I use , how and why?

Reply: The ewe’s ovulation cycle is 17 days. Therefore it is a popular practice to put the ram in for 6 weeks and take him out for 6 weeks. This has the following advantages:

a. The lambs fall in groups which makes your work easier b. You can alternate different rams and will know exactly which one’s lambs are arriving c. Should a ewe for some reason or other not “take” six weeks is not a terribly long period to wait before putting the ram in again. d. Six weeks allows the ewes two ovulations while the rams are with them

  1. I have one or two sheep with runny noses. People tell me this is nasal worm. Is there such a thing, what does it look like, where does it come from and what do I do about it?

Reply: This was addressed under Question 1

  1. How do I know when a sheep is sick, how do I determine which disease it has and how do I cure it?

Reply: In most cases the sheep appears uneasy and lethargic or a problem will be clearly visible like a wound, swelling or abscess. When the sheep shows no visible symptoms but looks ill, the first step is to take the temperature which should be 39,5 degrees. High temperature indicates infection and antibiotics should be administered. It could also be blue tongue or heart water ( if your area is prone to these). In the beginning I often called the vet. This is an expensive way of learning, but a excellent way. Now I am able to diagnose most diseases which my sheep may get, myself and to treat it effectively.

Abscesses are highly infectious and I recommend that you ask your vet to show you the correct method of lancing and treating these.

  1. I would like to keep record of my sheep to ensure that I do not keep “passengers” but productive animals. What must I record, how do I do it and how do I interpret it?

Reply: The basic requirement of recording is to record each ewe’s lambing rate and to identify and eliminate weak producers.

Firstly a ewe must be tagged with her own number ( I started at no 1) and you have to have a card for her. All lambs which arrive must then be tagged and recorded on the mother’s card. Important information is date of birth, sex, father (a) weaning date and weaning weight. ( There are record cards available from the Society)

  1. I want to number the sheep in such a way that I do not have to carry a book to identify the family. Is there a sensible number system according to which this can be done?

Reply: It is impossible to place all the information you need in a crawl on a ear tag. I suggest you use the following number system:

(a) Mark your thirty ewes from 1 – 30 ( meaning all that will appear on their tags will be a number between 1 and 30) (b) All new ewes purchase will then be from 31 onward (c) Number your lambs according to the year in which they arrive plus a cereal number for example 92.1, 92.2, 92.3 etc My tags look like this top: 92.1 RC Bottom 315 X 92.1 RC = Year-cereal number plus the father’s code ( RC= “Rocky”) 315 X = Family number plus X which indicates one of a twin Single lambs get nothing and triplets get XX The “family number” is the number of the very first ewe which started that line on my farm. It is carried over to each lamb and to the female off -spring like a man’s surname is carried by his children.

  1. Somebody says I must use Aussie-tags to number the sheep. How do I work with these?

Reply: I use metal tags but engrave my own information on it.

  1. What does the tags look like which the Inspectors of the Society use?

Reply: Dorpers receive a tag with a D + the stud number on one side and a cereal number on the other side. White Dorpers has the same but with a D

  1. How do I know when a ewe is too old to breed further?

Reply: Sheep’s teeth wear off. Teeth gradually get very short and uneven. As long as there is soft food ( like on lands) available, an old ewe can carry on, but should be classed out as soon as she or her lamb’s condition is poor in spite of good food. Weaker producing ewes must naturally be culled as soon as their teeth seem short.

  1. How do I know when I must get a ram?
  2. What do I do with old rams when in-breeding becomes a possibility?

Reply: A good breeding ram can be used a number of years, always on the same ewes. He should not be put with his own ewe lambs. And therefore you will have to acquire new rams ever so often. A Weak breeding ram or old ram you send to the abattoir. A good breeding ram which you can no longer use in your flock, can be swapped or sold.

  1. What is the best method of controlling ticks. People say I must use Deadline.

Reply: I believe people use Deadline although this is not meant for sheep. I still prefer to dip as recommended in question 1

  1. My crawl has a cement floor which has quite layer of manure on it. When sheep move around it creates dust. Is this healthy? Must I remove the manure and let the sheep sleep on the cement? Must a remove the cement and let the sheep sleep on the ground?

Reply: The surface on which sheep sleep is not important as long as the drainage is good. Where possible dust must be reduced or eliminated.

  1. Presently my sheep lamb either in the veld or at night in the crawl. The lamb immediately joins the flock and runs to the veld with his mother from day one. It has happened that a lamb is fast asleep and the mother is running around desperately Is this practice correct or must the ewe and lamb be kept separate from the flock? If so, how long, must it be in a grassy camp or in a crawl? If in a crawl or pen – what do I feed her?

Reply: Generally Dorper ewes are excellent mothers en seldom looses their lambs Now and then there is a ewe ( normally with the first lamb or twins) who battle to keep the lamb with her. ‘’Such a ewe can then be put in a smaller place with her lambs in order to get used to one another. You can feed dry Lucerne.

  1. Some of the ewes I purchased has biggish lambs but I have no idea how old they are. Some lambs are grazing full-out already but still suckles. Some of them are so big that they lift the ewe’s hind quarter from the ground when suckling. Is this normal – must they still suckle when they are so big? Do they wean themselves or must I remove them from the mothers? Do the suckling have and effect on the ewe that she may not take ram while she has a lamb?

Reply: It is normal practice to wean a lamb at three or 4 months of age. ( Remember to dose Lintex and to inject Pulpy Kidney and Rev 1)

  1. Must sheep have water in their sleeping crawl? Reply: Sheep should have free access to clean dinking water at all times. Troughs in crawls and camps should be checked daily to ensure that they are clean.

  2. Some of the Ram lambs is trying to cover the ewes. Is this a sign that the older ram is not working or are the young ones just having fun? Reply: Young ewes, rams and castrated rams are inclined to jump on one another. This is just a game but beware! Dorper lambs are fertile from 3 -4 months and could get pregnant or cover their own mothers.

  3. Her in our area theft is a problem. Is there a way to mark a sheep in order to identify the carcass , skin or head as your property? Reply: Tattooing is law. Use the green marking ink it works on the black ears.

  4. Will the ram know when a ewe lamb is “old enough” or must ewe lambs be kept separately so that they do not get pregnant too young. What is too young? Reply: It is good practice to mate ewes only at 10 months of age. They need to be two- toothed when their lambs arrive so that they do not battle to eat when having to feed a lamb.

Talk to other Dorper farmers or sheep farmers and learn from them. If you are serious about breeding it is recommended that you attend at least a Junior course on Dorpers to broaden your knowledge.