Dohne Merinos from South Africa’s most southerly district

We breed record-breaking Dohne Merinos for sheep breeders.

Here at Suidplaas Dohnes, we focus on genetics.
That’s how we have managed to grow our commercial Dohne Merino sheep stud into one of the most productive in the country.

The Suidplaas Dohne Stud is also the largest Dohne Merino stud in South Africa.

And every year, we host the biggest Dohne ram sale in the southern hemisphere.

Here Dohne breeders from across South Africa and the world travel to the Overberg, near the most southerly tip of Africa, to choose from our wide selection of Dohnes.

What do we offer you?

Registered Ewes

%

Average Lambing Percentage

Wool Clip Averages (microns)

Suidplaas Dohnes has the most registered ewes in the country. And because of this, we can apply stricter selection criteria.

Our animals undergo strict selection for fertility under natural conditions. The average lambing percentage of 149% has been maintained over the past 8 years.

And we select based on quality, looking for fine merino wool with the emphasis on length. In fact, the flock’s total wool clip averages 18.4 microns.

Our international reach

In 2000, we partnered with Mt Alma in South Australia. We provided the Dohne Merino embryos to Mt Alma, starting our daughter stud in this country.

Since 2006, Mt Alma has already achieved the highest average price at on-property sales in Australia on four occasions. Annually they sell more than 500 rams. And for 6 years in a row, have held the highest average ram price in Australia.

As Suidplaas Dohnes grows, so does our reach. We are now partnering with Dohne Merino breeders in South America, to help build productive, profitable Dohne studs.

Some of our achievements

 

  • Since 2003, Suidplaas Dohnes has attained the South African record price on 5 occasions, and the world record price twice.

 

  • Suidplaas Dohnes has won the South African Breeder of the Year 4 times since 2000.

 

  • And in 2023, Suidplaas was honoured for our 50 years of achievements as a Dohne stud by the Dohne Merino Society of South Africa. 

#AskTheDohneExpert

V: Is daar ’n regte of verkeerde tyd om my kudde in te ent?

A: Dis baie belangrik om te besef dat jy nie lewende entstowwe, soos dié teen bloutong, vir dragtige ooie kan gee nie. Dit het ’n groot fisiese uitwerking op die dier en laat hulle gewoonlik aborteer. Jou ramme bly ook vir twee maande ná jy gespuit het onvrugbaar, so jou inentings moet rondom jou lamtyd beplan word. Party boere kies om glad nie te ent nie, maar vir my is dit ononderhandelbaar vir die voorkoming van, byvoorbeeld, bloednier of bloutong.

Op die oomblik sukkel baie boere in ons omgewing met pasteurella onder lammers. Ek spuit my lammers twee maal pasteurella voor speen en dan ook ses weke voor lam word die ooie pasteurella gespuit.

#AskTheDohneExpert

Q: What can go wrong if you don’t manage your Dohne ram’s diet?

A: When sheep become too fat, it means that as a Dohne farmer, you’re not feeding your rams correctly. And this leads to many negative outcomes. For one, it could mean that your rams are picking up too much weight, too quickly. This in turn is known to impact on the fertility rate of your ram; which in the long run will be detrimental to your entire Dohne stud. Overfeeding is also a waste of money for farmers, as it is simply unnecessary.

Ideally you want your ram to grow by only around 300 grams a day – no more. That requires careful management for the 90 days up to mating, to ensure they’re getting the correct nutrition, and also the correct amount of exercise (enough to maintain good condition, but not to create a state of stress for the animals).

#AskTheDohneExpert

Q: Met wolpryse wat verlede week met 6% gedaal het, kry Wynand heelwat navrae van jong skaapboere oor hoe om onsekerhede in die wol- en vleisbedryf te oorkom.

A: Vir Wynand kom dit alles neer op een kernbelangrike faktor: vrugbaarheid. Hy verduidelik:

“Daar is net een ding wat ’n mens kan doen as die wol- en vleisprys so val, en dit is om jou vrugbaarheid te verhoog. Dit wil sê: Met dieselfde aantal ooie, moet jy meer lammers speen.

“Dieselfde beginsel geld in saaiboerdery. Maar as jy met die daling van pryse steeds dieselfde inkomste met skape wil genereeer, moet jy meer lammers op die vloer hê sonder om noodwendig meer ooie aan te hou.

“Die gemiddelde speenpersentasie in ons streek is dikwels rondom 115%, maar dit kan opgestoot word na 150%. Ons speenpersentasie op Suidplaas was verlede jaar 152%.

“Om jou vrugbaarheid te verhoog is meestal ’n kwessie van bestuur. Sorg dat jou meerlinge grootkom en gee vir hulle genoeg voeding. Ek gebruik, byvoorbeeld, lamhokke om soveel as moontlik lammers lewend te hou. ’n Mens moet ook gaan kyk na die geskiedenis van elke ram wat jy aankoop: Hoe lyk sy moeder en vader se vrugbaarheid, is hy een van ’n tweeling, of kom hy uit ’n familie met baie meerlinge? Sodoende kan jy oor ’n langer tydperk jou vrugbaarheid opstoot.”

 

#AskTheDohneExpert

Q: When it comes to feeding my flock, is it better to buy grain feed or grow it myself?

A: This is mainly a question of which option will be more cost effective. Many of us assume that planting grains for feed will always cost less, but this is not necessarily true, because your farm’s circumstances and the input costs for grain cultivation change every year. 

In the past, I would plant oats for silage purposes, because it made more sense. But this year it has been more cost effective for me to buy lucerne in from elsewhere. 

Keep all these changing costs in mind when doing your calculations to ensure you make the right choice. And make sure to plan ahead, so you have ample time to secure enough feed before it is needed.

 

#AskTheDohneExpert

Q: Can I breed Dohnes from my Merino sheep, and how long will it take me to get to a pure Dohne?

A: Introducing the breed to one’s flock is a matter of patience and preference. Some farmers choose to go this route because they already have Merinos and don’t want to lose those genes. They then introduce Dohnes over a period of time. If you breed an AA Dohne ram with a Merino ewe, it will take you more than 8 years – or 4 generations – to get to the point that you can call your sheep part of the Dohne race, and register your Dohnes. To breed pure Dohnes, however, is a 12 to 15-year undertaking.

If you want to bypass the years of breeding, you can opt to introduce Dohnes into your flock immediately. The bi-annual Suidplaas production auctions are a great place to find strong and reliable Dohne Merino genetics.

#AskTheDohneExpert

Q: How can you increase the lambing percentage of your Dohne herd?

A: A good lambing percentage is integral if a Dohne farmer is to be profitable. On Suidplaas, we’ve introduced many strategies to raise the lambing percentage. Among these, we’re consistently strict with regards to fertility. So if a ewe doesn’t conceive the first time, she’s removed from our Dohne herd. As a result, over the decades we’ve managed to increase our pregnancy rates to round 95%. We also feed our ewes during late pregnancy and lactation to reduce lamb mortality.

#AskTheDohneExpert

V: Wat moet my wolproduksie wees sonder om vrugbaarheid in te boet?

A: In die wolbedryf praat ons van die wolproduksiepotensiaal-persentasie, of WPP-persentasie, wat die skoonvagmassa uitdruk as ’n persentasie van liggaamsmassa. Daar is al baie navorsing gedoen en wanneer hierdie persentasie té hoog is, boet jy vrugbaarheid in – en vrugbaarheid is geld.
Die gewenste WPP-persentasie wissel afhangende van jou ligging en die betrokke ras. By ons in die Suidkaap is die ideale WPP-persentasie vir Dohnes tussen 6% en 7% vir optimale vrugbaarheid. Sodra dit hoër is, dra die skaap te veel wol vir ons omgewing. Bv. ‘n ooi van 65kg se skoonvagmassa moet 4.2kg wees.

#AskTheDohneExpert

Q: Am I paying a fair price for my ram – compared to the total income generated from the meat component of the flock?

A: Our ram prices are relatively low, compared to what they were in the past. You’ll see why I say that in a moment. What we want to see with this calculation is how the price of the ram influences the production cost per lamb (if only the meat income is taken into consideration). But first, we have to make some assumptions to show this calculation.
– price of ram: R20 000
– mating 1 ram to 40 ewes, twice a year, and used for 4 years
– wean percentage: 100%
– market lambs at 42 kg live weight @ R50 per kg
– inflation excluded from the equation

Next, calculate your total number of animals marketed:
40 ewes mated x 2 times a year x 4 years x 100% lambs weaned = 320 animals marketed

Now you can input this into an equation for gross income generated from sales:
320 lambs x 42 kg @ R50 per kg = R672 000 (R2 100 per lamb)

With this information, you can calculate the ram cost per lamb:
(purchase price R20 000 divided by 320 lambs) = R62,50 (3%) which is also equal to 9,5 lambs.

Of course, these equations are ONLY meant to give you an idea. For a detailed assessment, more analysis is needed. However, you should be able to answer the question: is the price I paid for my ram fair? Bear in mind that the 2021 average ram price for the 3 000 rams sold under the Dohne Merino banner amounted to just R13 800. So perhaps now is a good time to buy rams.

How we grew to where we are today

Our Dohne stud started in 1972, when Overberg farmer Jan du Toit bought registered ewes from the Loch Lynne and Okinawa studs to our farm near the southernmost tip of Africa. Over the years, the Du Toits have followed strict breeding and selection criteria.

Today, Wynand du Toit continues where his father left off: using genetics to continue to grow South Africa’s most productive Dohne stud – and to partner with Dohne breeders around the world.

Wynand du Toit

  082 550 1242
  028 425 1625
  wynand@suidplaasdohnes.co.za
  Posbus 4, Protem, 7281
  @SuidplaasDohnes
  @SuidplaasDohnes
  @SuidplaasDohnes

Wynand du Toit

  082 550 1242
  028 425 1625
  wynand@suidplaasdohnes.co.za
  Posbus 4, Protem, 7281
  @SuidplaasDohnes
  @SuidplaasDohnes
  @SuidplaasDohnes