On 20 July 2020 I paid a visit to Petri Mocke in the Vredefort area. Petri started measuring production for the whole herd about 2 years ago after reading Dr. André Mentz' book, Ecological Cattle Farming.
He jokes about not having had many years of cattle farming experience actually made him open to new ideas and the approach of measuring production efficiency on the whole herd made sense to him, so he got going.
Life on a cattle farm is not always perfect and easy. He had to reconstruct his kraal to add and fit a scale amongst other things. Bought in some heifers that did not fall pregnant when they were supposed to, etc. The first year's (2018) data wasn't all perfectly captures as he used Excel Spreadsheets to keep track of weights and various other activities on the farm. But from 2019 it got better and when he heard about our project he was keen to get involved from the get go.
Over a couple of weeks we got the 2019 production year (June 2019 - June 2020) into our database and cleaned up some of the data.
The herd is still very much in transition. He farms with Bonsmara's and is in the process of growing and eventually marketing young cattle around the age of 30 months. He recently found a slaughterhouse that pays good money for "free range cattle (B grade)" and have shipped a first shipment to them. At the same time he is working hard on growing the herd which implies not selling very much. As all farmers knows this is not good for cash flow 🙂
Petri has a keen mind for numbers and together we again did a simple calculation to understand the financial benefits of selling 30-month old cattle as supposed to weaners at 7 months. Given the price offer from the "free range" slaughterhouse, and his experience so far this year, it looks like the plan will work. Other beneficial factors are: keeping (and therefore buying) in less bulls to breed with due to less cows on the farm and less maintenance required on the young cattle compared to calves.
Below a video insert that shows the production efficiency for this production year at 32.7%. Not bad at all...