ABOUT AFRICAN ELITE FARMING
African Elite Commercial Farming t/a African Elite Farming. We farm with Meatmaster sheep on an extensive basis in the heart of the Waterberg area of Vallwater, Limpopo, South Africa.
In 2013 we bought our first registered rams and ewes from Clynton Collett. We were really impressed with the performance of the Meatmaster breed and since then our flock grew to about 350 ewes and it's still growing. The lambs from this flock get strictly selected according to the Meatmaster breed standards to uphold what the breed stands for: "Nature's Money Maker". We do not select according to colour, but structural correctness and their ability to breed, lamb and raise their young under difficult conditions. We only keep a select few rams and all ewes back for replacement purposes. The rest are sold off to other breeders from the farm and also on national and club auctions. We only make use of a mineral based lick in long periods of drought.
WHY THE MEATMASTER
Breed Standards and Characteristics
When selecting the genes necessary for the development of the Meatmaster all emphasis where placed on two aspects for consideration.
- What a sheep breed needs to keep costs as low as possible.
- What a breed needs for high fertility and production tomaximize income.
The Breed Standards are thus very unlike any other sheep breeds. They where set up specifically to achieve what is set out above.
1) Coat Colour and Skin Pigment
Any colour or combination of colours is acceptable. Good skin pigmentation around the eyes and over the ears is however essential.
Reason: To prevent cancer, eye infection and for stronger hoofs.
2) Head and Horns
- Ewes must be feminine tending to be polled.
- Rams must be masculine also tending to be polled.
- Lite horns in both sexes is however acceptable.
Reason: Easier to manage in sheep yards, less vulnerable to fly strike with horn injuries.
3) Coat Covering
Mainly short shiny hair with an underlying blanket of fluffy fine wool.
The breed must never be shorn thus natural shedding ability of coat is essential.
- Lambs to service - 0 °C winter temperatures as well as extreme heat tolerance.
- Protection from ticks and flies (no fly strike)
- No shearing costs and danger times with weather after shearing.
4) Conformation and Legs
The sheep must be of average size with a functional efficient body conformation and well placed legs with excellent walking ability.
Reason: Easy lambing, enough meat with good movement.
The tail must have a good attachment, preferably not be longer than the hock and have a neat wedge shape with only a moderate amount of fat. It must never be necessary to have the tail taken off.
Reason: Prevent ticks and fly strike and also no stress or possible infection with tail cutting, less work.
6) Herd Instinct
The breed must have a strong herd instinct.
Reason: Vital for better management in rugged bush or mountainous regions. Prevents wandering and going through fences. Protect themselves and their lambs from predators.
7) Enforced Selection to Achieve the Following:
- Highly fertile sheep.
- Good mothers that rear their lambs adequately.
- Virile rams with excellent serving ability.
- Sheep with a good walking ability.
- Lambs that will reach a slaughter mass of 12kg to 25kg A2 and A3 at 5 months of their mothers.
- Breeders are encouraged to breed sheep suited to their environment and feeding conditions. Different types are thus allowed.
- 12kg to 15kg carcasses putting on more fat and less muscle to be sold at 3 months for the harsher dry and arid areas.
- 15kg to 20kg carcasses with moderate fat and more muscling for the largest part of our sheep farming areas.
- 20kg to 25kg carcasses with good muscling for the grain and pasture areas of the country.
In all aspects it must be an easy care sheep
Breeders are expected to do tick counts and wean their Meatmasters from dosing for internal parasites. Meatmasters should also be bred and managed under natural conditions for the area with no or very limited licks or concentrates.
A quick glance at the above Breed Standards confirms the fact that there is no breed at present that has remotely the same breed standards. It is short and to the point, concentrating only on economic aspects. Take note of the fact that in total contrast to other breeds, it is nowhere stated what the neck and the shoulder attachment must be or for that matter the shape of the fore quarter, hind quarter, or any other body part.
The breed standards simply states a good functional efficient body conformation. The Breeders are determined once and for all to breed a profitable sheep, and then learn to love and like what they have bred and not just to try and breed another sheep pleasing to the eye. Economic aspects are all that count.
Meatmaster Breeders pride themselves with the fact that they stick to the breeding norms layed down before them with the main one being LEAVE THE ANIMAL OUT IN NATURE, TO PERFORM IN NATURE because only then we will find the cream rising to the top.
Meatmaster Stud breeders have seen over many years of breeding various kinds of sheep breeds that doing performance testing under intensive conditions slows down the improving process and minimizes the difference between the weaker and the better animals where as leaving the animals out in nature makes that difference much bigger. Thus making your improvement of your animals so much faster. With the Meatmaster also having less petty selection issues we can never get away from the basic fundamentals of Masculinity with rams and Femininity with ewes, functional efficiency for easy lambing and covering great distances in our more arid areas.
Breeders have initially decided never to show because of the subtle pitfalls this game has. With various breeds, showing was the single action that ruined the breeds, making their ewes more masculine, unable to take the ram or to lamb. Rams are unable to serve their ewes, cover great distances and has no vigor for serving ewes.
Some of the traits/aspects other breeds have when looking at the development of their breed are conformation and or size. When concentrating on conformation you rams will become unable to serve their ewes, their functional efficiency will decrease, ewes will start battling to lamb and rear their lambs. With concentrating on size it is evident that your animals will be unable to carry you through the tough times or times of great stress.
Our aim is to never try and win a carcass competition but we compete to see if we are meeting the market requirements. With the carcass competitions we have taken part in the Meatmasters have done very well. On the hoof, judges barely gave the breed a glance but once on the hookthey where well impressed. Current abattoir results for Meatmasters in the Bethulie district has been over 200 sheep with ALL of them grading A2’s! This was achieved without ANY supplementary feeding, licks or hormones but 100% of natural veld between the ages of 4 and 7 months.
This proves that the Meatmaster is NATURES MONEY MAKER!!
This Rand/cent chart shows that over the years, since the Meatmasters started with performance Testing we have made increasingly more and more money. After the dip in the chart of 2006 the problem was immediately identified and rectified with interest. Not many breeds can show this kind of improvement.
Meatmaster Proving Themselves Worthy in Extreme Weather
In the 2010/2011 season some of the outer lying Karoo areas have experienced much higher rain fall than usual. These extreme weather conditions brought about great times of testing to see what the Meatmaster would do when sudden climate changes take place such as these from dry to extreme wetness. The Meatmasters where pushed way beyond the limits for a year like this. Where all surrounding farmers where battling with footrot, wireworm and other problems, Meatmaster farmers went and placed there sheep under as much stress as possible. For over 45 days Meatmaster sheep ran with water constantly above their pasterns. They were also not dosed for wireworm until the turn of the season. The founding’s where astounding. Not one sheep was lost due to wireworm or other parasites and not one sheep got footrot. Where most farmers would put their commercial animals under such a test, this test was done with over 200 stud ewes. This just proves that when animals are purposefully selected under natural conditions, only the strong and able will prevail.