HISTORY OF THE MEATMASTER
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 realized 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 localization with poor distribution and lack of muscling leading to flat sidedness and late maturity.
In 1995 determined to utilize the advantages of the indigenous fat tailed hair breeds the group of farmers started crossing breeds to develop the Meatmaster. Realizing the huge gap between the fat tailed breeds and the well muscled British and European breeds, it was decided to cross these breeds in order to breed a truly good pure hair breed with good meat qualities desired the world over. This composite breed would combine the qualities of hardiness fertility and resistance to diseases of the fat tailed breeds with the muscling and conformation of the other breeds used. With the principles of what we were determined to achieve firmly in place the dream of the Meatmaster emerged.
From the onset it was decided to first establish a profitable commercial industry with as many farmers participating as possible. As the need arose for Meatmaster rams we would then from this large base of commercial sheep select the most profitable sheep evaluate them and compare their profitability to the existing breeds and only then if found to be more profitable establish the stud industry. This was a very different approach but a very wise decision. It immediately focused our breeders on selecting for profitability rather than phenotype and also created a good market for superior rams.
In 2000 the first Meatmasters were recorded by the ARC for performance testing and. On the 4th of February 2005 at Brandfort in the Free State the first Meatmaster Sheep Breeders Society was formed and the first AGM held. Mr. C.R. Collett was elected the first President, Ms. C.M. Du Toit deputy President, Mr. F.W. Peters as secretary and Mr. JP du Plessis as an additional member. A further eight members where present. This heralded the start of our Meatmaster stud industry in all earnestness.
On the 25th of May 2007 the National Department of Agriculture in the Government Gazette no. 29898 formally recognized the society. On the 2nd of October 2009 in Government Gazette no. 32601 the Meatmaster sheep was reclassified as a recognized locally adapted and regularly introduced sheep breed.
The first national sale of Meatmaster sheep took place on the 9th of August 2006 coinciding with the 2nd Annual General Meeting in Bloemfontein. The first exports of Meatmasters to Namibia took place in November of 2006 and the first exports to Botswana were done in January 2007.
The Meatmaster is now farmed with extensively in South Africa and enjoys tremendous popularity. 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.
At the moment Meatmaster breeders are found mainly in the central and Western extensive traditional sheep breeding areas of South Africa. Meatmasters are however represented in all 9 Provinces of South Africa and are becoming increasingly popular in agricultural areas with a need for a sheep breed with extreme easy care and high production.
World wide Meatmasters are receiving tremendous interest and enquiries about the breed are being received on an ever increasing scale. The breed is already represented in Australia, Mexico, and Canada and on a much bigger scale in Namibia. In the future we hope to contribute further to the development of Meatmasters in these countries and others and help to establish them as a truly profitable breed to farm with as we have done in South Africa.