Farmer's Weekly (South Africa)

‘SA beef producers at risk of getting left behind’


The South African beef industry is not yet adopting artificial inseminati­on (AI) to the same extent as beef producers elsewhere in the world.

According to Prof Edward Webb of the University of Pretoria, only 7% to 8% of semen purchased for AI was destined for the beef industry, compared with about 92% purchased by dairy producers.

He was speaking at the 10th annual Aldam Stockman School near Winburg in the Free State.

By comparison, there had been a 730% increase in semen sales to the beef industry in Brazil between 1995 and 2014, with most of the growth taking place over the past seven years, according to Prof Cliff Lamb of Texas A&M University in the US. He said that about 15 million Brazilian beef cattle were being inseminate­d every year, which was more than South Africa’s entire cattle herd, estimated at approximat­ely 12 million animals.

In the US, there had been an increase of about 70% in beef cattle inseminati­ons since 1995, with about 4,5 million inseminati­ons a year, Lamb said.

Convenor of the school, Dr Michael Bradfield, who is also director of Breedplan and CEO of Wagyu SA, said South African beef producers needed to “wake up” to avoid being left behind in terms of good genetics.

“Brazil is a good example of a country that has seriously taken up new reproducti­ve technologi­es and is now leapfroggi­ng other countries,” he said.

According to Bradfield, if South African beef producers did not start adopting technologi­es such as AI, they ran the risk of standing still and being left behind.

The three-day programme included several internatio­nal speakers, as well as local livestock experts. Topics ranged from implementi­ng synchronis­ation programmes to the economics of beef production.

Speaking at the event, Red Meat Producers’ Organisati­on CEO, Gerhard Schutte, said he was upbeat about the industry, as demand for red meat was growing both locally and internatio­nally. – Sabrina Dean

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