Archive Article: 1998/04/17

17 April 1998

ARNE Gressmanns farm lies 320 miles (515km) to the north-east of the capital Windhoek, near the town of Grootfontein. He farms 10,000ha (25,000 acres) on which he has 278 cows. They calf from May to June and October to December.

His annual rainfall is relatively high at 500mm/year (20in/year), though he has known as little as 150mm (6in) of rain in one year. During the drought year of 1995 he avoided having to cut livestock numbers by buying another farm with higher rainfall. However, interest rates of up to 21% have forced him to resell this farm.

Wages for the eight staff, plus mineral and salt licks, account for 28% of his turnover. The finished beasts are sold at 24-30 months of age and he gets about £1/kg carcass weight. Calving rates are 85% on which he hopes to make some improvement.

Mr Gressmanns biggest headache is encroaching bush, which has thrived with the reduction in browsing game. It now covers so much of his land that his stocking rate has been reduced from 8ha a cow 40 years ago to the present rate of 15ha a cow. The returns from the land are so low that most methods of bush control are too expensive.

Arne Gressmanns biggest headache is steadily encroaching bush.

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