When Mbaroro Katjiuanjo completed his Grade 12 some years ago, he knew instantly where he was headed – to the kraal, literally. Not to a university, but straight into the sheep dung infested kraal he loves so much. There, he threw himself into full-time farming. That was in 2002, and he was only 18 at the time.Today, he is a proud stud farmer of the Van Rooy sheep, a breed he cherishes. Katjiuanjo has unwavering love for the Van Rooy Sheep, and with good reasons too. Beside it being the only sheep breed he grew up knowing, he has over the years since learnt of its unique traits that places it shoulder above many other breeds.Katjiuanjo conducts his farming at the village of Okombepera, located some 150 km southeast of Gobabis in the Omaheke region. Okombepera’s terrain is rugged, with freezing winters and scorching summer. As in the entire Aminuis constituency, farming here takes a lot of work and courage to pull off.
Likewise, Katjiuanjo journey since 2002 has not exactly been a story-book one. He has had to fend off many challenges, which had threatened to part him with his first love, farming. But the fact that the Van Rooy was the family favourite sheep breed made it an almost obvious choice for him to take on.
“I have known no other sheep growing up. It was almost a natural choice that I too would end up farming intensively with this sheep breed. It was a given for me,” he said.
After noticing that the beloved Van Rooy his family farms with appears to be missing some vital traits unique to the breed, Katjiuanjo yearned to learn more about the sheep breed.
This led him on a journey of discovery, as he uncovers the interesting Van Rooy sheep. After several hours of reading and research into the characteristics of the Van Rooy, Katjiuanjo has made up his mind.
In 2005, he eventually decided to venture into full stud farming, by turning his beloved sheep into a business. He attended livestock auctions and studied prices of sheep rams. He struck gold later that year when prominent small stock stud breeder, late Piet Coetzee agreed to sell him a ram.
He also later bought another ram from Francois Theron, also a well-known stud breeder in small stock circles.
“I later adopted Theron as my mentor, and he guided me and molded me into a stud breeder of the Van Rooy sheep,” he said.
Other than its calm demeanour and temperament, the Van Rooy sheep is renowned for good lambing rates, often giving twins, something Katjiuanjo rates amongst its top characteristics.
Katjiuanjo said while it was not a walk in the park for him, he advises would-be farmers to never test the depth of the water with just one foot as in the wisdom of the age-old adage. To him, it’s all or nothing.
“What’s the point? I knew farming is all I live for and saw no other way out. So, for me it was really all or nothing. If I was to go with just one foot, I would still be testing the water’s depth all this time,” he said.
He, however, warns against making costly decisions when attempting to venture into small stock stud farming.
“Some people sell a kraal of 40 sheep to buy only 6 stud sheep and a ram. That is not the right way of doing it. It’s a gradual process. Communal farming is not easy, you would need to rely on your kraal for self-subsistence.
“Rather sell some and buy a ram that will service both the two new stud ewes you bought and the others in the kraal. You have to change your bloodline with time, not overnight,” he noted.
Katjiuanjo said he has also ventured into small-scale crop production to supplement his livestock farming.
“…I will always be a Van Rooy person regardless,” he grins when asked if he sees himself taking on a new sheep breed.
Katjiuanjo has won several prizes for the showings of his Van Rooy rams at different livestock shows across the country over the years. -email@example.com