Beef, Dairy, and Deere! Oh My!

Wednesday in the Southern Hemisphere started off with a riveting tour of Taaiboschbult feedlot. An immense feedlot nestled near the town of Potchefstroom on 700 hectares of land is home to over 26,000 head of cattle. The cattle they house are from farmers within a 800 kilometer radius. The most predominant breeds out of the twelve they prepare for harvest are the indigenous Bonsmora, Brahman, and Simmental. An interesting tidbit we were able to take away from the visit was the realization that ranchers do not castrate their cattle in South Africa. They are harvested at the age of 24 months signifying that the testosterone does not effect the quality of meat.

A quick trip across the road gave us our first taste of South African dairy farming. The farm milks 400 Ayrshire cattle twice daily, with each cow producing 6 gallons a day on average. Although Ayrshire cattle only produce 3% of South Africa’s milk, they fill a unique market area. We had the opportunity to taste several finished products, including drinkable yogurt and whole milk. Visitors to the area also have the opportunity to enjoy wild game including springbok antelope and impalas on the farm’s game reserve. The perfect end to the visit was good conversations around a delicious home-cooked South African meal of beef sausage, potato salad, and milk tarts!

We wrapped up our day with a visit to the John Deere Regional Distribution Center. Efficiency and uniformity was evident with the warehouse modeling the American parts centers. This facility supplies all of Sub-Saharan Africa with parts. A small reminder of home was the realization that they receive 51% of their parts from Germany and one-third from the United States. One of the many impressive features was that they were able to ship parts to any part of South Africa by the next day. Passion for the customer and high standards of quality could not have been more clear. We would once again like to thank John Deere for their sponsorship of the 2014 ILSSO program.

After a great day of learning, we are eager to see what tomorrow’s adventures hold!

Signing off from South Africa,

Whitney Bowman
State Secretary, Virginia FFA

Megan Stein
State President, Florida FFA

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