High hopes for weaners despite drought
Agra launched its annual weaner competition this week to support the red meat industry while it is going through a very difficult period. The competition revolves from auction to auction, finding the best weaners at every auction and marking their producers as contenders for the final grand title of national champion.
At the launch, Titus Koen, Agra’s General Manager for Livestock gave a brief background of the weaner competitions. He said; “For many years, Agra hosted the weaner competitions to complement the weaner auctions. However, this competition was only done on auction level. It was in 2011 when we decided to make the competition attractive, to draw national interest. In the same year, the competition rewarded regional winners and a national champion.” He continued, “In 2014, the event could not be hosted due to market related situations that had a direct influence on the auctions but in 2015 we hosted the national competition again. 2015 became the 4th successful year of the weaner championships and also the 3rd year the heifer category was included.”
Koen expressed his gratitude to various sponsors who made contributions to the national competition. “Their involvement contributes to the development of agriculture by supporting a championship that provides an ideal opportunity to reward exemplary producers for their efforts and to educate the farming community at large on prevailing market requirements,” he noted. The main sponsors are Bank Windhoek, Feedmaster, Sanlam and Santam. The co-sponsors are Bayer, Marsh, MSD, Indongo Toyota and Henco Engineering. This year’s sponsorship amount to more than N$400,000, which will be used for various category winners at the auctions.
Agra will host 16 weaner auctions from Grootfontein in the north to Karasburg in the south. The first weaner auction is scheduled for 15 July at Loskop (Kamanjab) and the last auction will take place on 01 September at Helmeringhausen in the south. To participate in the weaner competition, producers need to put together lots of twelve weaner with the ideal weight of 220 to 260 kg. The categories in which the animals compete are feedlot potential, veld potential and heifers with breeding potential. The judges will look at fertility, growth ability and capacity to produce meat. On a wider scope, they will also consider farming practices like de-horning, branding and immunization.
In the 2015 weaner auction season Agra sold 14,572 animals. Last year’s national champion was Mr. Bertus Calitz, a farmer and Charolais breeder from Gobabis.
The broad farming community, ranging from small-scale resettled farmers to established commercial farmers, from both the communal and the commercial farming areas, will participate in the auctions. In addition, competitive buyers from Namibia and South Africa are expected to attend.