Andrew Jordaan Jr of Spekboomberg farm in Cradock in the Eastern Cape was named the Voermol National Sheep Farmer of the Year in 2018. Mike Burgess spoke to him about how he gets the most out of his ewes by leveraging both extensive and intensive production systems.

Commercial Jordaan Merino ewes in the mountains near Cradock. Ewes are farmed in traditional hamel camps and mated on high-lying plateaus, where they have been found to conceive more effectively. Historically, these high-lying areas received up to 800mm of rain per annum compared with 350mm on the flats below; however, these figures have not been achieved in years.照片:安德鲁·乔达恩
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The basis of the Andrew Jordaan en Seuns Merino stud is a flock of 3 500 highly productive ewes that have a mean weight of between 55kg and 60kg and produce an average of 1,5 lambs a year and 3,8kg of wool every eight months.

These admirable figures can be attributed largely to laparoscopic artificial insemination (LAI), a solid fodder flow programme and efficient management.


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The foundation genetics of the Jordaan Merino stud were 100 stud ewes that Andrew Sr bought from his father’s stud, established in the early 1950s. In the 1980s, he launched an LAI programme, which, over the past four decades, has enabled the accelerated breeding of a productive Merino suited to conditions on the Jordaans’ properties.


“[LAI] has allowed for rapid genetic progression, and today we have sheep that perform very well in our area, where we combine pastures and veld,’’ says Jordaan.

“We use scientific data, such as BLUP breeding values, as well as visual appraisal to select functional, fertile and balanced sheep.’’

螺柱的另一个关键优势是发展了灌溉种植计划,目前覆盖1000公顷,这主要归功于与Orange Fish河隧道系统相关的水权。


“Our fodder flow programme stabilises our livestock operations,’’ says Jordaan.



Extensive and intensive systems
Apart from the 10 to 12 weeks that Jordaan Merino ewes spend on pastures while raising lambs, they are always on the veld, supported by a standard lick regimen. Sweetveld

Ewes are expected to handle rugged terrain with considerable tick loads (they are dipped with a portable facility) that traditionally would have been reserved for hamels [wethers].


Diverse genetics
Jordaan Merinos have always been selected for multiple lambs, and rams are only selected from dam bloodlines with a history of twins and high production indices. All stud ewes (and 85% of the commercial flock) are inseminated laparoscopically. While 98% of the rams providing the semen for the LAI programme are self-bred, Jordaan still ensures that they are from as diverse a genetic background as possible.


Ewes are treated for internal parasites and flushed with a self-formulated production lick at six to four weeks before mating (and again before lambing).




These lambs are released with their mothers onto pastures after 10 days in the pens to ensure adequate bonding between lambs and ewes.




“The creep feed stimulates milk production, and also means the ewes lead the lambs to the feed on a regular basis,’’ he says.

When lambs begin struggling to reach the feed effectively (as their heads increase in size), Jordaan and his team dispense the feed into cages that the lambs can crawl into.


Soon after weaning, the ewes are returned to the veld, while the lambs remain in the feedlots until they reach an average weight of 33kg at the age of between four and four-and-a-half months. They are then marketed to feedlots, and a portion are exported to the Middle East via the East London harbour.

Ideally, shearing takes place at eight months, but it can occur at 10 months. Eight- month wool (B to A length) has a better clean yield than 10-month wool (A to AA length). The average fibre diameter of the entire Jordaan wool clip has been 19,5 microns over the past few years, but decreased to 18,9 microns in the last season.

Just over half (55%) of the wool clip is sold under contract to the New Zealand Merino Wool Company at a predetermined price normally fixed 18 months in advance. This arrangement has proved invaluable for weathering price fluctuations brought about by unforeseen challenges such as the foot-and-mouth and COVID-19 outbreaks.

The family sells about1 500 Merino ewes every year, and markets 70 Merino rams (along with 30 Dormer rams) at their annual production sale. Rams are also marketed at the annual national Merino sale.

电子邮件:Andrew Jordaan Jr[电子邮件保护].

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