Genetic Lines in Bonsmara Stud Breeding

Ponk O’Kennedy from Woestyn Bonsmaras sold us our first 80 Bonsmara female animals. Woestyn Bonsmaras is known for their low input genetic qualities, great adaptability in the Kalahari, hardiness to perform well under sub-optimal conditions and fertility. Ponk was well known for not pampering his animals and we still have some Woestyn Bonsmara cows in the herd.

We realised very early that stud breeders do not necessarily offer their best females on auction – despite what is stated in the auction catalogue!

At Hartebeestloop we followed the following methodology when purchasing Bonsmaras:

  1. Buy the maximum number of animals at the dispersal sales of well respected breeders with a track record of successful breeding. The younger animals may present the best genetics but are also the highest risk animals to buy. We were fortunate to purchase quality animals at the following dispersal sales:

    • Fortress Bonsmaras – Burkhard Hermann
    • Robco Bonsmaras – Dr Wesson van Rensburg
    • Benchmark Bonsmaras – Hennie Bezuidenhout
    • Vaalbos Bonsmaras – Ernst and Dawid Visser
    • Hakplaas Bonsmaras – the late Gerhard Smit
    • WC Stay Bonsmaras – the late Wally Stay

  2. Identify top Bonsmara breeders and buy young pregnant heifers directly from them on a basis of selection out of the total number of female calves born in a specific year. No first selection by breeder prior to the sale.

    We identified the following herds and bought 10 pregnant heifers from each.

    • Arcadia Bonsmaras – Arthur de Villiers
    • Marloo Bonsmaras – Jaap Prinsloo
    • NOSA Bonsmaras – Jan Pienaar (20 pregnant heifers)
    • Op-die-Aarde Bonsmaras – Frans van den Bergh
    • Sernick Bonsmaras – Nick Serfontein

  3. We also had the opportunity to buy 17 cows from Zinabos Bonsmaras – Fourie Scheepers.

  4. Buy female animals at the South African Bonsmara National Auction. Over the years, the National Sale has progressed into an event where breeders exhibit some of their best female animals. Hartebeestloop Bonsmaras has bought extensively at the National Sale from different breeders to contribute to genetic variation in our herd.

    We have listed some of the breeders that we bought from:

    • Germar Bonsmaras – Gert Nel
    • Tempevale Bonsmaras – David Cock
    • Mcabe Bonsmaras - Francois Naude
    • Van Zyl Bonsmaras – Frans van Zyl
    • Hanzyl Bonsmaras - Gerrit van Zyl

  5. Buy the best female animals at various production auctions

    • Badeveen Bonsmaras – Dok en Dirk Badenhorst
    • Danolt Bonsmaras – Dr Danie Nolte

We have noticed that some breeders will auction off very good female animals for reasons specific to their herd objectives. For instance, Bonsmaras that are slightly more yellow-coloured may not be acceptable to the breeder. In the hotter parts of Namibia, commercial farmers prefer the more yellowish animals because of their better heat tolerance. There are many other examples that I may cite similar to the one above but I am sure that you get my drift.

Over the years we have gathered genetics from various breeders in different parts of South Africa and Namibia to build the Hartebeestloop cow herd that is exceptional when it comes to fertility, reproduction and maternal traits.

A word of caution to prospective buyers of female animals – there will be problems with adaptability in most cases and it will reflect in the reproduction value of the animal.

The following are the most common problems that we have experienced:

  • Resorption or abortion of the foetus because of stress - mainly related to transport stress like over border delays and other.
  • Not able to reach the 90 cut-off wean index with the calf at foot at time of auction or first calf born in new environment.
  • Increase in intercalf period for the next 2 calves at new farm.

These issues are mostly to do with the adaptability in new environment and management of the new purchases. It does not reflect on the genetic make-up of the animal. If the genetics are right, she will with time become a top cow in your herd and her progeny will in almost all cases not have the adaptability problems of the mother. The Hartebeestloop philosophy is to prioritize our cow herd. The Bonsmara breed is built on the qualities of the female animals - that is why it is known and recognised as a motherline breed. The clever buyer spends the whole day looking at your cow herd, the other buyers spend the whole day amongst the bulls!

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