It is a challenge for new breeders to decide on the bulls to acquire when they start stud breeding. It was no different in the case of Hartebeestloop and a lot of thought went into paternal sire lines. We advocate the help of experts as it is so easy to make expensive mistakes!
Please note that it is an on-going process to acquire the right bulls to breed with in your herd! You start off with something that you may think will work, but may change a little (or a lot) here and there as you go along. We will give some background as it is part of the history of our stud.
The decision for our first bulls, was based on bulls with a proven track record. It is our firm belief that every breeder should have those lines in his stud that have contributed the most to the advancement of the Bonsmara breed. Therefore we made an all-out effort to purchase
AG 98-338 (AG J /AG C 16) and some of his most prominent sons and grandsons. AG 98-338 was bought at the Benchmark Dispersal Sale by Ian Lourens, Neill Rissik, Dawid Visser and Hartebeestloop Bonsmaras, in 2007. At that stage it was the most expensive bull ever to be auctioned off and many people thought this to be crazy.
AG 98-338 lived to be 17 years and produced many offspring in that time. This purchase was the single best buy ever to be made by Hartebeestloop.
Subsequently we bred our own bulls that we can now put to use in our stud. Please have a look at the "Stud Sires" in the gallery section.
We also purchased 2 very good sons of RCO 98-37 – from Fortress Bonsmaras (BHE 04-0035) and another son from Hansie Steyn (HJS 03-16 from Hansu Bonsmaras).
Some outstanding bulls were bought from Zinabos (Fourie Scheepers), Up George (Lawrence Raife), Kings Heath (Johan Myburgh), El-Jay Bonsmaras (Ian en Jan Lourens), Waterpaslaagte (Frikkie Kruger), NOSA (Jan Pienaar), Limerick (Paul Mare), Genepoel Bonsmaras (Vryburg) and Stormfontein (Arthur de Villiers-senior).
Hartebeestloop Bonsmaras is actively involved in a well planned artificial insemination program. All our heifers and at least 25% of our cow herd are artificially inseminated. Our success rate is above 60% and we will continue with AI for the time being. Through the years we have collected semen of most of the prominent bulls in the Bonsmara business. Artificial insemination helps us to broaden our genetic base. It also brings in very necessary genetics to link the performances of our animals with animals from many other different studs. A link sire, improves the accuracy of the BLUP values of our animals and assist in establishing the "true" genetic potential of animals.
Breeding values for beef cattle are here to stay - mostly driven by scientists, academics, multinational companies and the desire of the stud breeder to identify the genetic potential of his animals. At Hartebeestloop we do the best we can with all possible aids like AI, to assist in establishing accurate breeding values.
We are most probably one of the leading herds when it comes to selective breeding. Selective breeding is more then just using Genepro to match animals to get the best mid-parent BLUP breeding values. Yes we also use Genepro. Matching animals on visual appraisal and a thorough knowledge on how they breed and what to expect when you bring different genetic lines together, is what selective breeding is all about.
Making a brand new bull trailer looking old and finished in one breeding season is a sign of “good” selective breeding in our extensive environments. You must “travel and transport” to bring the right animals together! There is a huge difference between matching numbers and good stockmanship.
Our cow herd is now good and solid and we can afford to try unproven bulls (young bulls from different genetic lines). A proven cow can in most cases make up for some minor shortcomings in the bull and vice versa. From 2010 we almost exclusively use self-bred Hartebeestloop bulls. The size of our cow herd allows us to buy 2 – 3 bulls annually from different breeders and genetic lines to try out in the herd.
Arthur de Villiers (jnr) taught me the term "Music in the Background". Unless there is depth and performance in the pedigree of a young bull, it will not be given an opportunity to work in the Hartebeestloop herd. "Unproven" does not mean any bull - it means a young bull that does show potential based on his pedigree information (20%), his appearance (30%), his own performance recorded information (35%) and his breeding values (15%). There is no scientific prove for the percentages allocated to each criteria - it is solely based on the Hartebeestloop Bonsmara experience.