Neels Nel's Krinkhout Damaras
Neels uses blood-lines that come from Kaokoland that have genetically and phenotypically proven that they have the characteristics that he wants to establish in his flock and that also have the prepotency to follow through.
He manages his Krinkhout Damara stud-farm in the hot, humid bushveld just outside Groblersdal, where ticks literally carry away weak animals and internal parasites thrive. He soon realised that these hardy sheep which can flourish with very little care, are ideal to utilize the bushes with their lavish leaves and pods which are abundant in the Olifants River Valley at Groblersdal, and therefore purchased some of these sheep from Kaokoland in Namibia for himself.
Meat, fertility, characteristics, hair quality, strong legs and prepotency was his priority when breeding decisions had to be made. He obtained his sheep, which rank amongst the best breeding material, from well-known breeders such as Johnny Morrison from Bloemfontein and Wouter Moolman from Namibia. Today he has 140 selected stud ewes which he would like to increase to about 450.
The blood-lines such as 'Nekkie' and others, refer to single sheep that have performed exceptionally well genetically and phenotypically. Neels largely does line breeding but in this process the animals must carry more meat without their thoroughbred appearances, fertility and hardiness being jeopardised. He maintains two basic approaches. Firstly: To use well-proven ewes to pair with his young rams and to then see what the outcome of such pairings are. Secondly: Young rams from proven pairings are also used, or which he believes should fare well with very young or very old ewes. If such a ram gets stuck he is replaced with a new ram to improve the progress.
With this method the meat of his sheep has increased with 30% in the past 16 years. This was achieved by improving the sheep's body- and cross length, by selecting a better forearm-muscle and by using rams that generate offspring with broader bodies.
The meat is very popular and animals that are too fat are marketed to hunters during the winter. The meat makes delicious dried sausages and the hides are also very popular. A prepared hide with good hair and a beautiful pattern can reach R600 locally and R1000 with foreigners.
His stud-farm is still relatively small and he therefore uses one selected ram with his ewes. If he has a second ram with potential he divides his ewes into two flocks. More or less 320 lambs are born every 14 months. With this method the ewes are tupped by rams within six weeks after lambing which can produce a better offspring. The ewe lambs graze with the ewes and are selected when they are 12 to 14 months old. Only suitable lambs are included in the stud and the aim is to establish as many young animals in the stud as possible.