Aviwe Gxotiwe, the chairperson of Soutvlei Farming, welcomed Lindiwe Sithole, host of African Farming Season 2, to the farm and shares with her his big plans to expand the business further.
Aviwe Gxotiwe is a third-generation farmer who gave up a career in law to invest in the family farm. He manages the sheep and lucerne farm from afar, believing that this strategy gives him an advantage, as he gets a bird’s eye view of the business.
He says it gives him the opportunity to focus on the finer details of developing a successful business plan that would otherwise be lost in the day-to-day struggles of running a farm. That is why he appointed an experienced farm manager to help him.
Farm manager Bertus van Vuuren says he enjoys sharing new ideas with Gxotiwe, as their relationship is built on mutual respect. “We like to share opinions, but in the end we come up with a plan that benefits the farm,” he explains.
Sheep are among the most efficient of all the domestic animals, therefore meat and wool production were a good fit for the Gxotiwe family. A sheep enterprise must be well managed to be profitable, especially when it comes to the feeding needs of the animals.
Dr Francois van de Vyver, the National Technical Manager at Voermol Feeds, says sheep farming primarily revolves around the livestock’s seasonal needs. Sheep are short-day breeders, with the highest conception rates occurring in autumn.
“Farmers should build their feeding programme around the major occurrences or seasons of a sheep’s breeding cycle. This includes the breeding season, which naturally falls in the autumn months or typically in other seasons of the year if technology such as synchronisation or teaser rams are used; the lambing season; and the weaning season. With each period a sheep’s feeding requirements change, and farmers should use the necessary complementary supplementation to make sure their nutritional needs for the specific periods are met.”
Dr Van de Vyver believes that to grow a livestock business like this to its full potential, it is not only important to select animals with good genetic potential but also to manage their nutritional requirements optimally so that they perform according to their genetic potential and produce quality wool and meat products.