2016 Southern African Stud Breeder of the Year

The title is definitely his

Johan proverbially paid all his accounts when it comes to this Pick 'n Pay, Farmers' Weekly and Breedplan Stud Breeder of the Year competition. He did not only win the 2016 competition, he came second in 2015 and third in 2014. In addition to the title of 2016 Southern African Stud Breeder of the Year, he was also the Northwest ARC regional winner.

His farming operations on the farm Schoemansfontein

Johan farms on the farm Schoemansfontein between Klerksdorp and Hartbeesfontein in the Northwest province and owns BTB Simmentalers (Boekenhout Trust Farming). This civil engineer moved his farming operations in 2003 to be closer to his farming activities on 1 019 hectares, where 180 cows are kept.

Where did it all begin?

This Klerksdorp-born man tells us that his father, Sampie, farmed at Rooiberg, between Warmbad and Thabazimbi. Johan grew up with Simmentalers after the family imported this breed in 1965. He tells us that he used to farm with both Simbras and Simmentalers but, in his own words, "the Simmentalers outperformed the Simbras on this farm.”

Development and project management is his job

This weekend-farmer, as he calls himself, talks passionately about his work and his farming activities: “I do what I love,” he says while his Pointers, Kaizer, Tarka and Rommel, play all around us. Johan has many years of experience in the engineering field. He has a B. Eng. degree, which he obtained in 1980, and obtained a B. Eng (CIV) (Hons) degree in 1986. After a few years at a consulting engineering firm, Johan started his own engineering business, MDCC, in 2000 in Klerksdorp. He used to be the managing director but focuses more on his specialist field now, namely development and project management.

Senwes connection

Johan has been a member of Senwes since 1978. A further Senwes connection is that he developed the Klerksdorp Game Centre, where the Hinterland branch is located. He also erected the Builders Warehouse next to Senwes head office five years ago. Johan tells us that a few Senwesters would walk through the fire for him, particularly one at the Ottosdal branch.


Johan has been married to Annemarie for more than 36 years, since they met at university. They have three daughters, Elzette, Salome and Anje. His wife also has a guest house with conference facilities in town, named AnnVilla.

It is clear why he looks after his Simmentalers so well. It is because he himself eats so well. To this he replies: “This is the advantage of living in a guest house. The kitchen opens at 06:00 and closes at 20:00.” They always say: They taste so good because they eat so good...

About feeding

To start with, animal feeding is about two aspects,  namely quality and price. “As far as animal feed is concerned, I am always prepared to pay more. The correct nutrition is of the utmost importance for my bulls since every one of them could possibly become a stud bull."

Genetics vs feed

The old saying goes: “Half the breeding is in the feeding.” It means that it is possible to make an ordinary bull or cow look very good since fat hides faults. "But", Johan adds, “this is not where I am heading.”

He also limits the number of show animals due to the fact that feeding actually hides the real genetic potential. "Feeding also hides the single most important element, namely fertility,” he says. Johan explains that in a good year, all the cows could pregnant. However, there are always the less fertile cows in each herd. A drought such as the past one, very clearly points out the less fertile cows. We attempt to get rid of the less fertile cows.

Genetic evaluation

Genetic evaluation is no challenge for Johan. It comes naturally since measurement forms part of his daily work. Johan tells us that the economic value as determined by the Breedplan Selection Index, indicates that BTB Simmentalers are in the top 5% of the Simmentaler breed.

A few secrets about BTB's cattle farming operations

Johan shared a few secrets with us:

  • Since margins are very low, the best available technology and genetics have to be used and everything has to be done right - this is what precision farming entails.
  • Fertility is 50% of the recipe for success - “When you have a poor quality calf you at least have something to sell. But when you have no calf you have nothing to sell.”
  • BTB's female animals run a hurdle race. If they do manage to jump any hurdle, they are eliminated. The first hurdle is to reach the correct mating weight at 13 months, to become pregnant within 45 days and to successfully wean a calf every year.
  • Should all your cows become pregnant, it could mean that you are spending too much on supplements and that there is not enough pressure on fertility in your herd to make any meaningful genetic progress
  • His project management approach comes in quite handy. All genetic measurements are done on weaning day. In order to facilitate management and to put more pressure on fertility, the mating season takes place once a year for a period of 45 days.
  • Buy the right feed for the right purpose and make sure of the after-sales service.
  • The most important aspect regarding feed is that you should optimally utilise the available resources.

* Look out for the second part of the article. We will tell you more about heifers, veld management and larger carcasses and how Johan uses his background as engineer to farm smarter.