In the light of recent “misunderstandings” I need to clarify my position in regard to what I believe our relationship with Nature in respect of cattle and veld should be.
I feel that, irrespective of any effort on my part, I have experienced circumstances that have led me to have a different perspective to conventionally held views. I feel obligated to share these views, reinforced by personal experience, with anyone committed to achieving “maximum sustainable (ecologically and economically) profit per unit of land”.
My views are founded on certain tenets:
• There is no universally superior breed. Each environment dictates a specific genotype. Generally speaking the easiest way to breed such a genotype is through composite breeding.
• Cattle have a dual role – efficiently convert grass into meat or milk and improve the environment. In order to achieve this we need cattle with inherently good body condition (reflection of grass conversion efficiency and a requirement for a high degree of practical fertility) that have to be managed in order to attain maximum grass productivity and profit.
• In terms of grazing management we need time-controlled high animal impact and non-selective grazing. This requires some degree of Ultra-High Density Grazing (UHDG.)
• We need to accept that non-selective grazing will result result in increased stocking rate (the major determinant of profit) and a drop in body condition (the major determinant of cow fertility). The drop in body condition needs to be mitigated – genotype, grazing management (frequent moves; shorter recovery at critical periods in order to improve nutrition), rumen supplementation and calving, breeding and weaning coinciding with the best natural nutrition.
• The major consequence of “scientific” selection is cattle that require external inputs (chemicals, production feeds) in order to be productive.
That is why I believe the most grass productive cattle are to be found in the “unimproved” breeds / genotypes.
• Grasslands worldwide fall somewhere between high octane (sourveld) and low octane (sweetveld). A specific environment may require rumen supplementation in order to improve grass utilisation and increased profit.
• I believe that the role of cattle breeders is solely to accelerate natural selection.
I would like to make it clear that I am not affiliated to any breed or breed association.
I believe that most of what is promoted as science is actually pseudoscience.
I evaluate any breeding or management decision on how it relates to natural processes.
I try and discuss issues and handle differences without getting personal.
I hope we can continue discussing all issues relating to man, cattle and grass in a meaningful manner.