Years of drought, an invasion of mountain zebras and then on top the Corona crisis. 2020 was a difficult year for the nature reserve, the guest and farm business of BüllsPort. In contrast, 2021 is a year of new beginnings. In September, the newly founded sheep breeding experienced its 500th little joy since the beginning of the year.
Cattle were his passion. For decades. Even after years of drought (see news story from December 2019), he held onto his last 57 dams. He acquired a mechanical bush chaffcutter, produced 500 kg “boskos” (bush fodder) a day and hoped to be able to feed the core herd through until start of the next rainy season.
No prospects for cattle
But at the end of 2020, hundreds of mountain zebras from neighboring areas broke into the pasture camps and ate the last of the tall grass. With a heavy heart, Ernst Sauber decided to sell his last cattle as well.
Giving up the farm business was out of the question, however. Especially since the hospitality industry also experienced a drought: Because of the travel restrictions during the Corona crisis, the lodge and campsites had hardly any guests.
The experienced farmer had been checking for a long time the conditions on BüllsPort for a new branch of livestock farming. In the pasture camps, there is still a lot of short grass even when mountain zebras graze. Too short for cattle, but long enough for sheep.
Sheep in great demand
The demand for sheep meat is growing, especially in South Africa. This increases the prices. On top of that, the Namibian Ministry of Agriculture recently abolished the export quota for small livestock. Now farmers can supply the South African abattoirs and benefit from the higher prices there.
From March to December 2020, BüllsPort acquired 300 Meatmaster sheep, that are particularly fertile and well adapted and grow quickly. Last March, 200 pregnant Karakul ewes were added.
Up to 1,000 sheep on BüllsPort
This month Ernst Sauber was able to rejoice over a successful provisional appraisal: On September 20, the 500th lamb was born of this year. The Meatmaster sheep seems to feel well on BüllsPort, because the lambs grow quickly.
By the end of the year the herd should have around 600 ewes. The goal, according to Ernst Sauber, is 800 to 1,000 ewes that will find enough pasture on the 56 km² farm area of BüllsPort.
Collect data, optimise methods
However, it remains to be seen whether predators like the jackal will become a problem. Otherwise he is still in the experimentation phase and systematically collecting data, emphasises Sauber. Based on this data, he intends to develop an optimal concept for BüllsPort from the common sheep farming methods. On a farm tour, guests can learn more about farming on the edge of the desert and share in the joy over the lambs.
By the way: The income from the farm business is used to finance the conservation work in the 43 km² private nature reserve in the Naukluft Mountains. The BüllsPort team would like to say a big thank you to all those fans who financially support its nature conservation by adopting a quiver tree.
Newsletter "Naukluft Mail"
Straight from the NAUkLuFT to your mailbox: News, information and exciting stories about the guest business and farm operations of BüllsPort, as well as the mountains of the NAUkLuFT. Subscribe to our quarterly newsletter "Naukluft Mail".
If you want to see what's going on at BüllsPort every now and then: