News Letter Vol 4: #8

(August 2017)
A very big Hello! to all our friends clients and you the readers. It is a hot blustery day as I sit here at the computer and prepare this the last News Letter of the 2016/2017 rainy season / cycle. Although we have had a good rainy season with us recording a total of 830,5mm (80,5mm above the long term average of 750mm/year) over the last twelve months, it was far from a normal rainy season.
I say this for the following reasons; firstly we had a very dry and hot December with way below the long term average in precipitation. Then in April and May we had un usually long interval between storms accompanied by high temperatures and a very early unseasonal frost on the 19th of April! This higgly piggly set of weather ended in a deluge of 140mm in the beginning of the third week in May. This deluge was a huge blessing as it kept the bush and under lying grass green for the whole of August. This in tern was an absolute God send or our flocks.

Our rainfall for the raining season 01/09/2016 to 31/08/2017 is as follows:-
September 2016 -- 58,5mm
October 2016 -- 96,0mm
November 2016 -- 70,0mm
December 2016 -- 24,0mm (This was a much drier December than normal)
January 2017 -- 91,0mm
February 2017 -- 255,0mm
March 2017 -- 58,0mm
April 2017 -- 21,0mm
May 2017 -- 140,0mm
June 2017 -- Nil
July 2017 -- Nil
August 2017 -- 17,0mm
Total for 2016/17 to date 820,5mm


We are thankful to our Lord Jesus for the wonderful rain that we had this season and for the way in which this rain enabled us to have grazing and browse for our livestock. Our prayers are with those farmers that are still in the drought, we pray that God will strengthen you all and reveal His plans to you as you work through these difficult times.

Our aim at RH Ranching is to run an operation comprising of several facets that compliment each other, using the least amount of inputs to achieve the best profit possible in a sustainable manner that ensures the longevity of all our resources.
It was with the above statement in mind that we were led to change some fundamental practices at RH Ranching that in turn led to the starting of both our Stock Guardian dogs and our Free Range Chickens.
Instead of running target/species specific hound packs (which we did commercially for a great many years) we swung over to using the Canis Africanis Dogs as Stock Guardians, in order to protect our small stock from predators such as Caracal and Black Backed Jackal. They have however not only done this very efficiently but they have also protected the flocks from Brown Hyena and Crocs as well as African Rock Pythons by barking crazily and alerting our stockmen to the danger that the flock was in. Our stockmen would then re direct the flock away from the danger zone with no loss to our stock or to our wildlife.
A few Canis Africanis Dogs as Stock Guardians are way cheaper to keep than a pack of hounds and one does not need to employ a huntsmen whose sole purpose is to look after and work the hounds. This has a positive effect on our profitability.
We are also able to sell well bred stock imprinted pups to fellow livestock farmers / ranchers all over the country; hence our Canis Africanis Dogs have become a sustainable profit generating operation.

Our Free Range Chickens started out as a very small flock of a few hens and a rooster with the idea that they could help control the fly problem in our hot humid summers. Well they have done this most successfully to the tune of saving us about R350-00/month in fly control measures such as poisonous baits, traps and sticky tapes!
Well not only did this small flock help keep the fly population down by scratching up and eating the fly larvae but they have also made a big impact on the ecto-parasites (ticks) on our livestock. The birds literally pick the ticks off of our sheep, goats and oxen in the early mornings and late afternoons when our stock are back at the kraals. This has had the following benefits for our bottom line as a ranching outfit –
A marked decrease in the number of times we need to dip our livestock which = a decrease in costs and the it has made it easy to see which animals are more prone to tick infestation (the birds congregate on and around these individuals) and hence allows for us to cull these individuals from the herd/flocks along with their low resistance to the ticks. This again helps us build up our flocks with well adapted animals with a natural resistance to ticks = a lowered frequency of tick related illnesses and deaths which again has a positive influence on our bottom line.

The flock has also shown us that they are very good at rodent control. If a rat or mouse dare show its self the flock would mob it and peck the creature to death, then they would proceed to tear it apart and eat it. This environmentally friendly method of rodent control has again saved us a lot of money = increase in the bottom line.
The flock is growing and has also supplied us with top quality table fare. In the not too distant future we will be selling fresh eggs, day olds as well as point of lay pullets and young roosters. Once again we will have another stand alone (profit generating) but integrated facet of our ranching business.

RH Ranching’s Canis Africanis news:-
This month has been a month of mixed blessings and I say this not lightly. Firstly we have been blessed to obtain a very lovely young bitch that we have called Scooby Doo, “Scooby” for short! Scooby is a very nice mix of both the Herding and Hunting strains of the Canis Africanis, tan in colour, with a dark muzzle, a white tip to her tail and the toes on her front feet. She has one ear up and one ear down.
Scooby has fitted into our system and gets on well with our other four Stock Guardians. We are really pleased with the way she has made her self at home with the Nguni Sheep flock and spends most of her time patrolling in and amongst the flock as they graze! We are excited to see how she grows out and to breed future Stock Guardian dogs out of her and our existing blood lines.

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I received a WhatsApp this month from Gerhard Van Geest accompanied by two photos of the two young bitch pups that he bought from us along with a young male. The message made me both very sad and at the same time very proud. Both bitches were dead, killed in a fight with what appears to be a vagrant Brown Hyena. The male had also been involved in the scrap and was well other than being very aggressive and keyed up. The part that made me very proud is the fact that not a single sheep was missing from the flock! This breed of dog never ceases to amaze us!
It was a great pleasure on my behalf to have been asked by Mr Bob Frean of the Pietermaritzburg Round Table to attend one of their Luncheons held at the Pietermaritzburg Golf Club and to present a talk on the use of Canis Africanis as stock guardians in ones small stock farming operation.
It was a lovely luncheon with a lot of interest in the dogs being shown by all who attended. I would like to thank Bob Frean and President Ritchie for the invite and the hospitality shown by all of your members.


RH Ranching’s Free Range Chickens:

This month I do not have a lot of news on the Free Range Chicken front other than to say that all of our young chicks/chickens are growing very well indeed! There are another two hens on clutches of eggs.
We have a lot of young birds coming into lay at the moment and this is a very exciting time as we are now heading into the third generation of breeding our own type of bird that is suited to our specific set of circumstances. So far we have seen an improvement in egg producing ability as well as a slight increase in the body weight of our birds. I still want to increase the bird’s body weight a bit more so as to produce a slightly heavier/more meaty rooster for the pot.
With this all said and done, we most definitely do not want to sacrifice neither the bird’s laying ability; nor their maternal instinct to sit and hatch viable clutches. This means walking a delicate line of balance in order to achieve our goals. In the interim the chickens bring a lot of enjoyment to us and we are blessed with a lot of top quality eggs for our table and for the tables of many of our friends.

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RH Ranching Mbuzi Stud:

There is not a lot of news in this department other than to say that our flock is still up in the Rust de Winter area on the Pienaar’s River and they will be staying there until The Lord Jesus has opened a door for us to move to our new farm. Which we are trusting in Him to do soon!
The Indigenous veld Goat Breeders Society of South Africa will be putting out a Ten Year Anniversary Journal later this year in both a hard copy and EBook form. Therefore RH Ranching Mbuzi Stud is placing an advert in the Journal. I might add that Falcon’s girlfriend Leani Van Staaden did the design and layout for both the RH Ranching Mbuzi Stud add as well the advert for the KZN IVG Club; well done and thank you Leani! Below is our advert!!!

KZN IVG Club News:

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The Club is going from strength to strength with new members joining on a monthly basis, we even have a new member from Swaziland!
At the end of this month the Club Secretary; Pieter DuPlessis and myself had a meeting with Mr Rolf Aardnesgaard co-owner of AAM Auctioneers over the late selling times of the small stock at the Lions River monthly auctions. Of recent the goats especially have been going under the hammer as late as 6-30 pm under torch light. This has led to a lot of dissatisfaction by both sellers and buyers.
After our meeting we now feel that we have plotted a way forward that will suit all concerned. The auctioning of the Small Stock will commence at 2-00 pm (1400 hours) sharp on the LAST MONDAY of the month. In order for the cattle auction to continue but have the traders available for the small stock auction dairy cattle and beef weaner calves will go under the hammer in the cattle sale ring. I make an appeal to both sellers and buyers to please support this new arrangement!
As I stated in the previous section – RH Ranching Mbuzi Stud, Leani designed and did the layout for the Clubs advert in the upcoming IVG journal, you can see it below.

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RHR Mules and Polo Ponies:

We have had a normal month of working ponies etc but on the Mule side of things we have been busy putting in extra time on Milo for Dr Alex Lewis. Our groom Max has been doing a sterling job on getting this very beautiful but self minded girl to be a co-operative lady.
Next month we will be gelding three young john mules and once they have healed we will get down and start working them too. These are young mules that we have bought in and will gentle them down nice and easy.

Well that is all for now, have a blessed month ahead and remember the only name that saves is the name of Jesus Christ!
Please do remember that you can contact us directly via email from this website by going to the “Contacts Page” and following the prompts or on these numbers- Hilton 072-372 9065 and Robyn 082-428 6641 we would love to hear from you!
Now my prayer for all of you is that the Lord Jesus Christ will reign in your lives.
Best regards,
Hilton and Robyn Sanders.