Merweville is by and large a farming community and it is only the most resolute and hardy farmers who not only survive in this challenging climate but are also successful at what they do. The Merweville area is renowned for top quality organic sheep farming produce. The Karoo bush gives the meat it’s distinct rich flavour.
Some years it could be this green ….. but so often this is the view. Not for the faint hearted.
The most common sheep that they farm with is the Dorper which is a cross between a Merino and a Persian sheep. However of late there are a number of farms that are moving over to the Meat Master sheep due to its resistance to drought, grazing behaviour and in general an easy care sheep, a profitable breed. The Dorper flocks tend to move apart as they graze which makes them vulnerable to predator’s, whereas the Meat Master tends to graze in a group and as thus less vulnerable to predator’s.
It is not an easy task to farm in the Karoo, the low rainfall and high summer temperatures test every fibre in the farmers body. Many a day the natural grazing needs to be supplemented with feed that is either purchased by bag or mixed on site. Lucerne is often also grown to add to the sheep’s diet.
Dorper with day old lanb – Source: Leon Meat Master – Source: meatmaster.co.za
The predator’s that impact on sheep farming in the area are the Jackal and the Lynx and lately Crow’s which if not managed could reduce profit margins by around 30%. Many trick of the trade are utilised to manage the losses to predator’s and these include but are not limited to:
- Bell around the lamb’s neck
- Plastic anti-bite neck collar
- High emphasis on fence integrity
- Regular human activity
- Noise makers