Thanks to our Mentor Collett Farming SA
A group of South African farmers experienced the tremendous advantages of fat-tailed hair breeds regarding fertility, resistance to various diseases, resistance to external and internal parasites, and durability and survival skills in times of extreme drought, herding instinct to protect the herd from predators and good strong teeth ensuring a long lifespan. They also realised that not only in South Africa but world wide these breeds lacked two vital components preventing them becoming highly sought after economic meat producers. That was fat localisation with poor distribution and lack of muscling leading to flat sidedness and late maturity.
In the early nineteen nineties (1990), determined to utilise the advantages of the indigenous fat tailed hair breeds and realising the huge gap between the fat tailed breeds and the well muscled British and European breeds and the need world wide for a truly good pure hair breed with good meat qualities, it was decided to develop a composite breed. Various fat-tailed breeds were thus crossed with well muscled breeds and the dream of the Meatmaster emerged.
The Meatmaster is a composite sheep breed in South Africa and Namibia. It is bred as a non-fat tailed hair-type sheep for meat production. It offers farmers an alternative with unique characteristics to meet the needs of a huge market in South Africa and around the world.
The one aspect that makes the Meatmaster totally unique in its development is the fact that the breeders first established whether there is a commercial demand and tested to see how the sheep performs and only after that success, a stud industry was formed in the early turn of the century. The stud industry was formed and based on the combination of Performance Testing and the Hand and Eye method.
It’s never the one or the other but always BOTH!
Breed Standards and Characteristics
When selecting the genes necessary for the development of the Meatmaster all emphasis where placed on two aspects for consideration.
What a sheep breed needs to keep costs as low as possible.
What a breed needs for high fertility and production to maximize income.
The Breed Standards are thus very unlike any other sheep breeds. They where set up specifically to achieve what is set out above.
1) Coat Colour and Skin Pigment
Any colour or combination of colours is acceptable. Good skin pigmentation around the eyes and over the ears is however essential.
Reason: To prevent cancer, eye infection and for stronger hoofs.
2) Head and Horns
Ewes must be feminine tending to be polled.
Rams must be masculine also tending to be polled.
Lite horns in both sexes is however acceptable.
Reason: Easier to manage in sheep yards, less vulnerable to fly strike with horn injuries.
3) Coat Covering
Mainly short shiny hair with an underlying blanket of fluffy fine wool.
The breed must never be shorn thus natural shedding ability of coat is essential.
Lambs to service - 0 °C winter temperatures as well as extreme heat tolerance.
Protection from ticks and flies (no fly strike)
No shearing costs and danger times with weather after shearing.
4) Conformation and Legs
The sheep must be of average size with a functional efficient body conformation and well placed legs with excellent walking ability.
Reason: Easy lambing, enough meat with good movement.
The tail must have a good attachment, preferably not be longer than the hock and have a neat wedge shape with only a moderate amount of fat. It must never be necessary to have the tail taken off.
Reason: Prevent ticks and fly strike and also no stress or possible infection with tail cutting, less work.
6) Herd Instinct
The breed must have a strong herd instinct.
Reason: Vital for better management in rugged bush or mountainous regions. Prevents wandering and going through fences. Protect themselves and their lambs from predators.
7) Enforced Selection to Achieve the Following:
Highly fertile sheep.
Good mothers that rear their lambs adequately.
Virile rams with excellent serving ability.
Sheep with a good walking ability.
Lambs that will reach a slaughter mass of 12kg to 25kg A2 and A3 at 5 months of their mothers.
Breeders are encouraged to breed sheep suited to their environment and feeding conditions. Different types are thus allowed.
12kg to 15kg carcasses putting on more fat and less muscle to be sold at 3 months for the harsher dry and arid areas.
15kg to 20kg carcasses with moderate fat and more muscling for the largest part of our sheep farming areas.
20kg to 25kg carcasses with good muscling for the grain and pasture areas of the country.
In all aspects it must be an easy care sheep
Breeders are expected to do tick counts and wean their Meatmasters from dosing for internal parisites. Meatmasters should also be bred and managed under natural conditions for the area with no or very limited licks or concentrates.
A quick glance at the above Breed Standards confirms the fact that there is no breed at present that has remotely the same breed standards. It is short and to the point, concentrating only on economic aspects. Take note of the fact that in total contrast to other breeds, it is nowhere stated what the neck and the shoulder attachment must be or for that matter the shape of the fore quarter, hind quarter, or any other body part.
The breed standards simply states a good functional efficient body conformation. The Breeders are determined once and for all to breed a profitable sheep, and then learn to love and like what they have bred and not just to try and breed another sheep pleasing to the eye. Economic aspects are all that count.
Performance testing is compulsorty for all Type # B Breeders of Meatmasters. 100 Day + 270 Day weights are recorded and processed to evaluate growth of lamb and mothers rearing ability, age of first lamb, inter lambing period and rearing status further determines the ewes breeding values. Performance testing is utilized solely to improve a breeders Meatmasters genetic ability to become more profitable.
Allowance is made for two types of members with the same voting powers:
No record keeping
No performance testing
They sell commercial Ewes and Rams
Their ewes qualify for Appendix A Meatmasters
They can also sell on Society Sales
They can take part in shows
Full record keeping preferably on "SHEPHERD"
Must join the ARC and do performance testing
Optional to join SA Studbook and sell registered Performance tested Meatmasters
They sell recorded or registered Performance tested Stud Rams and Ewes
Can sell on Society sales
Can take part in Shows