Archive Article: 1998/04/17

17 April 1998

AT MALTAHOHE, 150 miles (241km) south-west of Windhoek, Hans Breiting farms 30,000ha (74,000 acres) with a jackal-proof fence 60 miles (97km) long around it.

The farm is dedicated entirely to rearing Karakul sheep. Originally from Afghanistan, these hardy sheep are bred mainly for the pelts of their young stock. They are slaughtered at 1-2 days old to keep the hair as short as possible and to avoid the stress of milking on the ewes.

Following the drought years of 1990-1996, Mr Breiting has rebuilt his flock from a low of 1000 ewes to the current 1500. Ideally he would like 3000. The lambing rate is 80-100% and he employs five full-time staff to look after the sheep. In theory the average rainfall on his farm is 170mm/year (6.7in/year), however from 1990 to 1997 the annual figure only exceeded the 100mm (4in) mark twice.

Karakul pelts currently sell at £12.50 each, but prices in the recent past have been as low as £1.20. There are 60 different grades which are shipped to Copenhagen for a biennial market.

As well as jackals, baboons are a problem as they can kill young stock, make holes in fences and vandalise water installations. Both jackals and baboons have a reward of £4 a head.

Despite owning 30,000ha (74,000 acres) with no debt, during the drought years the only way he stayed in business was by providing flights in his light aircraft for visiting tourists.

Hans Breiting has a 60-mile jackal-proof fence to protect his sheep.

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