He cashed in his pension of Rs 9,000 to buy the first 4 goats. How a Limpopo farmer became a top Bosvelder breeder

There were no post-matric educational opportunities on the horizon for him.

So, after completing Standard 10, Emmanuel Mudau worked as a security guard.

After three months of work, he left to help a family friend who worked in a furniture store.

“He hired me personally to help him because he was illiterate and couldn’t read or write. I would read and write for him and he would pay me about Rs 400 a month,” recalls Emmanuel.

When store managers saw this and how it helped improve the man’s business, Emmanuel was offered a permanent job at the store.

He was later transferred to another branch of Turfloop where he worked from 2006 to 2010.

In 2010, Emmanual resigned and cashed in about R9 000 in pension money to buy his first four goats – a career move that would change his life.

One ram earned him about R500,000 from his progeny.

He breeds for breeders with the aim of helping build a national herd by bringing excellent quality genes to the market especially for black farmers, he shares his journey to becoming a top breeder and farmer to African Agriculture.

“I have three sheep and a ram in the backyard of my house in Tsiozvi. The goats were doing well and were fast joking,” he says.

That year, he sold 15 sheep to one of his father’s associates with the agreement that he would receive a commission on each animal sold.

“I sold the ewes within a few days, except for four ewes. After paying me my commission, he gave me the four pregnant sheep,” says Emmanuel.

At the time, he wasn’t keen on sheep, so after they lambed, he traded the sheep for eight goats to grow his goat herd.

Emmanuel’s father was very supportive of his farming venture and helped him financially.

“He gave me half of his salary, and every time I got that money, I bought a goat,” he recalls.

His herd soon became too large for the backyard, and in 2011 Emmanuel approached the chief of Ravhele village, who allowed him to use a larger area outside the village.

That year, Emmanuel was approached by someone who had Boer goats and no longer wanted them.

“He saw what I was doing and offered to sell all his goats to me. I didn’t have the money to buy them, but he insisted and arranged the payment within a certain time frame,” he says.

Unfortunately, all the Boer goats died.

“My local goats were thriving and that’s when I knew I had to stick with local breeds,” says Emmanuel.

In addition to preserving the indigenous Mbuzi goat as part of its agricultural history, the goats also have excellent commercial value.

More | The Limpopo-born entrepreneur wants the whole world to experience the delicious goodness of mopane worms

The co-founder of Mathuba Genetics in Limpopo was first introduced to genetics when he raised and raised pigeons as a hobby as a child.

Deliberate selection of color traits in birds gave Emmanuel an early opportunity to experiment with genetics.

After several months of farming and searching for the right animal, Emmanuel cultivated breeds such as Dorper, Pedi and Damara, none of which gave him the desired results.

Then in 2011, Emmanuel started breeding Pedi and Damara sheep.

“I traded two local goats for two Pedi sheep with a community member who wanted to raise goats,” he recalls.

In 2012, he bought several “Damara” sheep and started breeding them. However, he struggled with the Damaras for years as he could not adapt to the environment.

Although I had high mortality rates with the Damara sheep, the Pedi sheep, on the other hand, did very well,” says Emmanuel.

The problem with Pedi sheep, he explains, is low meat production.

“My customers wanted meatier sheep and the Pedi sheep do not meet that goal.”

By this time, Emmanuel had started attending research group meetings and farmers’ days organized by established breeders.

In these groups, he met Theo Hoffman, Craig Watson, and Ruddette Nel, who were facing the same problems with their sheep and were looking for solutions.

Farmers were trying to improve Pedi sheep using Meatmaster rams, but it was not a successful exercise, recalls Emmanuel.

In 2016, four farmers started a project to experiment with three breeds that they hoped would give better results: a team of four decided to breed a three-way cross using Pedis, Dorpers and Van Rooys.

Emmanuel says pedi sheep are some of the toughest sheep in the world. “It is hardy, disease resistant, drought and heat tolerant and high yielding. He has been in the harshest conditions of the north for many years and survived.” Emmanuel says.

They chose Dorper for meat production.

“No other breed can compete with the Dorper for meat production and quality,” he said.

Van Rooy was crossed for good udders and high milk production.

“Van Rooy also has a big frame, which means he can carry more meat,” he said.

Emmanuel says the Bosvelder is a functionally efficient breed and doesn’t require a lot of attention.

Farmer says they are highly adaptable, drought tolerant and have excellent mothering ability, requiring minimal input.

“Our sheep are herded in the field and remain highly productive with minimal effort, low input costs and reduced physical labor,” he explains.

“We also have Savannah goats that do very well here, although they are mainly from the Northern Cape,” he says.

More | Lavhengwa on the life of a citrus farmer: “The EU is my biggest export market. I hope to reach China”

Emmanuel says nutrition is the catalyst for a profitable livestock operation.

“Good nutrition ensures a strong immune system and high productivity. If your animals aren’t getting a properly balanced diet, you’re going to have a problem,” he explains.

At Mathuba Genetics, animals receive home-made supplemental feed during the winter when the grass dries up and the nutritional value of the grass deteriorates.

It mixes hominy chops, macadamia nuts, beans, crushed yellow corn and sunflower seeds with energy-boosting molasses.

“Sometimes we use leftover peanuts when we don’t have leftover macadamia nuts,” she says.

Animals are fed when they return from grazing in the afternoon. “About 50 kg is enough for 50 sheep,” he said.

In summer, when the stem is green and the grass and leafy soup have a high nutritional value, additional feeding is less. Only pregnant and lactating ewes are given supplemental food to raise healthy lambs and increase milk production.

Emmanuel says that the good genetics of his herd is not debatable.

Bosvelders are capable of high productivity in the veld they develop with minimal input.

He values ​​genetic excellence on fertility, mothering ability, conception rate, hardiness and disease resistance.

“Without quality animals, commercial farmers producing for slaughter will not have the quality to build their herds and supply the market,” explains Emmanuel.

For Emmanuel, the profitable line is “starter packs” of five ewes and one ram, which he sells to emerging farmers at R18 000 to R35 000 for a “bundle”.

Sheep farmers had to wean their lambs at 100 days, and with poor genetics this may not be possible.

He warns that sheep with low milk will not be able to wean their lambs in time.

A good eye for selection is just as important as understanding genetic traits, which he says he advises breeders to keep careful records of.

Emmanuel has a four-year-old ram named Longrich, which he raises with a friend.

“I made close to R400 000 from the progeny of this ram, selling the sons as breeding rams for between R15 000 and R25 000 each,” explains Emmanuel.

“If I were to sell Longrix today with the records I have, it would sell for a very good price. The records tell their own stories.”

On a more careful note, Emmanuel says that genetic progress does not happen overnight, but selecting the right animals is a long journey of hard work to build a profile and reputation.

“Reputation is everything in this game. “Once people get to know and trust you, it’s easy to sell your animals,” he says.

Watch Emmanuel’s story here:

Leave a Comment