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From Ladysmith with love for smallstock: van Schalkwyk
In 1956, Philippus Lodewikus van Schalkwyk was born in Upington in the Northern Cape, South Africa, where he spent 12 years before moving to Stellenbosch in 1974 for his Matric. It was then that his father bought a 10 000 hectare farm in Ladysmith, where they started full- time farming. He spent about one and a half years in University pursuing a Bachelor of commerce degree before he decided to change his path and went into the farming business with his father.

They were in business for about 10 years practicing mixed farming; breeding 1 000 Dorper Sheep, 300 Boer Goats, keeping small game and producing lucerne on 30 hectares for the livestock on the farm.Philippus later sold the farm and opened butchery afterwards. His knowledge and skill extended to him by his father plus his junior and Senior Dorper Stockbreeding training, he sought for a country in which he could start his own farming enterprise.

   

 

 
He explored some of the beef producing countries around like Zimbabwe, Zambia and Mozambique but finally decided to settle in Botswana as it showed great potential for business. “Initially my idea was to go into the professional hunting business but then I realized that there was great demand for small stock in the Botswana”, said Philippus explaining his journey. “I started buying goats in South Africa and Namibia. At the time prices ranged

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between P800 – P 1000 for Bucks and P 350 for female goats selling them in Gaborone where I had set up base and established my business.” He did this business for four years and moved to Lobatse for another four years before tendering for the Sunny side farm where he is operating to date. It is at Sunny Side that top quality stud Ram and Buck are being bred by Mr. Philippus.

Production on Sunnyside Farm

Philippus uses the line breeding technique: mating involving relatives other than parents and sisters. For example; mating Nephew/ Aunt, Niece/ Uncle- through to the 4th generation has very little effect on the desired traits in the goat or sheep. Linebreeding usually concentrates the genes of specific ancestors through their appearance multiple times in a pedigree. Philippus started with 150 animals at a ratio of 10 males: 140 females both sheep and goats. His target is to double the number to 200 Boer goats and 200 Dorper sheep. In line breeding of sheep, the sons get the pool of strong genes and on goats bucks should be changed after every two years to avoid undesirable traits.

Sunnyside concentrates on the Dorper breed which is indigenous to South Africa but also thrives in Botswana. The Dorper is a result of the crossing between the Dorset Horn and the Blackhead Persian, the reason being that the meat has less fat which is preferable in the market and has a high value. This breed is also capable of producing fast growing and heavily muscled lambs yielding very satisfactorily economic returns under a variety of environmental conditions. The Dorper ewes also are excellent mothers that can breed in any season.

A straight- forward business strategy

“Since I started farming in Sunnyside the target was to double these animals and expose them to Heart water ticks. By so doing you are building their resistance for heartwater. One mistake that most people do is that they buy their expensive stock from heart water-free areas and start keeping them in a heartwater area.”

Rather Philippus encourages farmers to purchase animals that have been exposed to heart water ticks and have built good resistance for at least 10- 15 months, adding that at two months the animal can get Heartwater and therefore since customers prefer animals at young age, they should block them. Philippus recommends to potential farmers who want to go into small stock farming that, “a good number to start with as a new small- stock farmer can be 10 ewes or does and one ram or buck. But if the farmer cannot afford 10: 1, five females and 1 male can still work”. He outlined that one buck for a two year period is ideal for maintaining quality traits. “A full-time farming effort is the key to success in small stock breeding” Philippus warned farmers saying “farming is not just about buying expensive stock and offloading them at cattle-post for someone else’s responsibility”. He believes that a full time farming practice is necessary for making good progress especially in small stock because of their vulnerable to predators, which is major challenge. On his farm the problematic predators are the Brown Hyena, Jackal and Leopards together with the biting snakes which have caused severe losses. Losing mainly sheep, he associated this with their long unending grazing hours and currently he has lost fourteen sheep to snake bites and leopards respectively.

He decided to keep three guarding dogs which protect his stock and use diesel to burn holes which are suspected to be giving habitation to dangerous snakes. “Unlike a leopard which comes after a while, snakes worry me as I am currently trying to build our stock” he noted. Philippus does not see himself only focusing on breeding on his farm, within the next two years we will be conducting auctions. His advice to farmers is simple; “Farmers should not buy expensive animals and offload them at cattle- posts and settle in towns; you need to do the work for yourself. Regular vaccination and de-worming should be practiced for good stock welfare, but more importantly buying animals from non-heart water areas and to keep them in a heart water area is a risk,” concluded Philippus.FMB

 
       
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