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Limpopo Study Group members at ZZ2’s Stockman’s Training Weekend (from left) Adv Andries Mokobi, Mr. Titus Ngwako, Me Nobbi Hlahla, Mr. Isaih Ramotwala, Mr. Clement Mokobi, Mr. Masedi Mohale.

1. The Limpopo Study Group

The Limpopo Pinzgauer and PinZ²yl Study Group is an initiative by Paul Bester and Isiah Ramotwala from ZZ2 Livestock Division. The concept was born after Paul Bester noticed that many of the interested parties in the Pinzgauer breed lacked sufficient knowledge and the infrastructure necessary for stud breeding. Paul and Isiah brought these parties together to form the Limpopo Study Group in order to teach, inspire and assist. Paul Bester, general manager of ZZ2 Livestock Division and president of the Pinzgauer Cattle Breeder's Society of South Africa, has been actively involved in the establishment of the Limpopo Study group and is a continuous mentor to study group members. The group was founded in 2008 with six members and now boasts with twenty-two members, with Mr Element Mashai as Chairperson. The Limpopo Study Group functions under the auspices of ZZ2 and the Pinzgauer Cattle Breeders Society of South Africa.

Belonging to the Limpopo Study Group involves the purchasing of quality Pinzgauer or PinZ²yl stud animals from ZZ2, registration with the Pinzgauer Cattle Breeders Society of South Africa and SA Studbook. This ensures that our members are well-informed about the breed and the stud-breeding industry and have terrific opportunities to learn from other experienced stud breeders. Paul Bester as creator of the group and mentor to its members shares his expertise on stud breeding and cattle farming in general with all members. Members are encouraged to visit the farm, gain valuable information from our staff and learn from our daily routine.

The Limpopo Study group gives upcoming farmers the opportunity to invest in Pinzgauer or PinZ²yl cattle and to acquire the necessary knowledge to become prominent stud breeders in the future. ZZ2 is the leading supplier of Pinzgauer and PinZ²yl stock and has the best genetics available in the industry. Most of our prospective farmers do not have their own land or cattle handling facilities and it is in this regard that ZZ2 supports them by offering sufficient grazing for their cattle. ZZ2 provides herd management, grazing and basic veterinary care for their animals. ZZ2 cattle division provides the Limpopo Study Group support with natural mating and artificial insemination and also provides assistance with the administration involved with stud breeding. The emphasis is on a long-term learning experience and mentorship program rather than a short-course in cattle farming.

Limpopo study group members at the ZZ2 stockman's training weekend, July 2011.

Mr Element Mashai (middle) winner of the "Upcoming Farmer of the Year" award at the 2010 SA Studbook award ceremony.

The Limpopo Study Group members invest in stud animals for two reasons. Firstly, the Limpopo Study Group has limited resources and growth capacity and stud breeding unlocks more value per head of cattle. Thus space needed, upkeep costs, grazing costs etc. for stud animals are the same as for commercial cattle but stud animals have more potential value than commercial cattle. Secondly, stud breeding plays a vital role in the supply of superior genetic material, not only to fellow stud breeders, but to the commercial market in the South African beef industry.

The first step in the program is the establishment of a productive and profitable herd. The future for Limpopo Study Group members entails the regular production of superior Pinzgauer and PinZ²yl herd-sires for sale to fellow commercial cattle breeders to uplift and upgrade commercial herds owned by upcoming farmers thus forming a sustainable cycle of prosperity. Pinzgauer stud bulls are ideal herd-sires for commercial herds as a result of their superior cross-breeding qualities that enhance milk and beef production qualities. Depending on each farmer's unique situation, PinZ²yl herd-sires also have excellent cross-breeding abilities ensuring improved hardiness and beef qualities in commercial herds.

In recent events the Limpopo Study Group attended a ZZ2 Stockman's Training Weekend presented in association with the Pinzgauer Cattle Breeders Society of South Africa in Mooketsi. This weekend served as a thorough theoretical introduction to cattle breeding in South Africa with lectures about cattle selection, the feed-lot industry, animal nutrition and stud feeding and performance testing. Outside the delegates also attended several practical work sessions about the Pinzgauer and PinZ²yl presented by some of our country's finest cattle experts. After the three day training course participants received a certificate stating that they have passed the ZZ2 Stockman's Training Weekend in association with the Pinzgauer Cattle Breeders Society of SA on society level.

Isiah Ramotwala and members of the Limpopo Study Group discussing and viewing Pinzgauer cattle at Mooketsi, December 2009.
Isiah Ramotwala and members of the Limpopo Study Group discussing and viewing Pinzgauer cattle at Mooketsi, December 2009.
Paul Bester and members of the Limpopo Study Group discussing and viewing Pinzgauer cattle at Mooketsi, December 2009.
Paul Bester and members of the Limpopo Study Group discussing and viewing Pinzgauer cattle at Mooketsi, December 2009.

Previous achievements and success of the Limpopo Study Group include Mr Element Mashai, Chairman and owner of Monabi Pinzgauer Stud, which won SA Studbook's 'Upcoming Farmer of The Year' award in 2009.

One of the highlights on the Limpopo Study Group calendar was competing in the show ring at the Pinzgauer National Championships in September 2010 held at the Pretoria Show (Tswane Show.) This was a big affair and more than 180 Pinzgauer animals competed against each other in the arena. Ten of our then 17 Limpopo Study Group members participated which in itself is a great accomplishment. The following results were obtained:

M.N. Makhanya from the Meseni Pinzgauer Stud won 1st place in the category Bull 4 – 5 years.

M.I.P. Modika from Khopi Pinzgauers won both 3rd and 4th place in the category heifer-calf 12 – 18 months.

N.E. Mashai from Monabi Pinzgauers won 1st place in the category heifer-calf 12 – 18 months, 1st place with his Champion Heifer-calf A+B animals, Reserve breed champion female A+B animals, 3rd place in the category Junior bull 18 – 27 months.

M.S. Mohale from Mohale's Pinzgauers won 2nd place for his heifer-calf 12-18 months, Reserve Champion heifer-calf for A+B animals, and 5th place in the category heifer-calf 12-18 months.

We at ZZ2 Livestock Division believe in sharing our expertise with other farmers and companies and in doing so enhancing our share in contribution to our country's food security and a prosperous future for our nation's people.

The Limpopo Study Group inspired the founding of Mitch van den Bos’s Bosheuvel Study Group in Muldersdrift, Dave Henderson’s Gariep Study Group in the Free State, John van den Bos and Wayne Poisson’s John Wayne Study Group in Randfontein, Emiel Grobler’s Chance Study Group in the Magaliesberg and ZZ2’s Mooketsi Study Group. All founders are members of the Pinzgauer Cattle Breeders’ Society of South Africa and affiliated with Paul.

Click here to download the list of ZZ2 Mentorskap Programs

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