Meet the expert speakers at the 2023 LRF Stockman School

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If you are a serious commercial or stud farmer who bases your farming enterprise on scientific principles and the latest technology, then be sure to be at Aldam in the Free State from 11 to 13 October when the Livestock Registering Federation will be hosting its 15th annual LRF Stockman School!

The theme of the three-day event is ‘Profit drivers in bull selection’ and attendees can look forward to a jampacked programme with topics covering everything from genetics and bull selection to health and nutrition. Keep an eye on the press and social media for more information regarding the speakers and programme.

Click here to watch a video of last year’s event.

The following speakers will share their expertise with attendees:

Prof Frikkie Neser

Prof Frikkie Neser is well-known in the livestock industry and is the author and co-author of more than 480 scientific and popular scientific publications in national and international journals and scientific congress presentations. Neser has been the recipient of numerous awards such as the David Uys trophy for his published articles in the South African Journal of Animal Science in 1996, 2015 and 2017 and the South African Society of Animal Science medal for an outstanding research project.

As the departmental head of Animal Science at the University of the Free State (UFS), Neser has been the study mentor to 25 master’s and 11 doctorate students. Four of his students received the South African Society of Animal Science medal for an outstanding research project. Neser is also a professor in the Department of Animal Breeding at UFS. He is involved in a wool and mohair improvement project in Lesotho as well as local emerging farmer empowerment projects.

Prof Leon Prozesky

Prof Leon Prozesky began his journey in the field of veterinary sciences in 1973 when he obtained a BSc in Veterinary Sciences from the University of Pretoria. He has extensive experience in veterinary pathology, having worked in the section Pathology, Research and Diagnostics at his alma mater. He also spent a year (1983 to 1984) at the pathology unit of the United States Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in Washington, DC.

Upon his return to South Africa in 1984, he pursued his postgraduate studies and built a distinguished career at the University of Pretoria. He retired in 2018 as a senior or co-author of 60 peer-reviewed publications, an award-winning professor, and head of the section Pathology, Training, Research and Diagnostics. He currently runs Path Diagnostics Africa veterinary pathology diagnostic service and co-owns the Sewester Bonsmara Stud.

Dr Cornelius Nel

Dr Cornelius Nel is a scientist with the Directorate Animal Science of the Western Cape Department of Agriculture. He obtained his BSc, MSc and PhD in Animal Science at the University of Stellenbosch, and currently conducts research in the quantitative genetics of farmed animals.

A main research area of his is applying genomic data to better understand genetic diversity and improving genetic prediction. He also participates in projects looking at the genetics of climate stress resilience and its relationship with reproduction and survival. His developing work aims to improve on the phenotyping and genetic prediction of health and welfare traits and its application to breeding animals more robust to the harsh South African climate.

Jan de Jong

Jan de Jong holds an agricultural diploma and a master’s degree in Agricultural Economics. During his career, De Jong has judged various cattle breeds at national championship level, and officiated at interbreed level in South Africa as well as internationally. He is a member of the South African Interbreed Judge’s Association (SAIJA), serving as an examiner and secretary of the association. He has had the honour of judging the prestigious Royal Show Interbreed Gold Cup for cattle and sheep on at least three occasions.

De Jong has also judged slaughter cattle and slaughter lambs on the hoof at many large shows and is a senior judge and examiner of the South African Fatstock Judges Association (SAFJA) of which he is a founding member, current secretary and honorary member. He has been involved as a lecturer at slaughter cattle judging courses over the last 14 years.

Prof Dietmar Holm

Prof Dietmar Holm has served as deputy dean of teaching and learning in the Faculty of Veterinary Science at the University of Pretoria from 2016 to 2023. He qualified as a veterinarian at the University of Pretoria in 1998. After five years in private practice, he returned to Onderstepoort in 2003 for an academic career in production animal studies, first as a clinical assistant, and progressing through the ranks to become full professor in 2022.

He obtained his MSc in Veterinary Science cum laude in 2006 and his PhD in 2014, after which he registered with the South African Veterinary Council (SAVC) as a specialist veterinarian in bovine herd health. Prof Holm is a former president and current Central Committee member of the Ruminant Veterinary Association of South Africa (RuVASA) and serves on the planning and project committees of Red Meat Research and Development South Africa (RMRD-SA).

Dr Collin Albertyn

Dr Collin Albertyn completed his BSc Agric degree at the University of the Free State and his honours degree in Wildlife at the University of Pretoria. After qualifying as a veterinarian (BVSc) from Onderstepoort, he joined Embryo Plus to focus on artificial reproductive techniques (ART) in cattle, doing work in neighbouring countries and Kenya and Sudan. He is currently a director of Winburg Veterinary Clinic as well as Absolute Wagyu and Absolute Genetics.

Dr Collin has been practising in the bovine reproductive industry for more than 15 years and has been head veterinary reproductive specialist at Absolute Genetics since 2017. He is responsible for all reproductive work completed by the embryo centre, including ovum pick-up, embryo flushing, and transfer.

Dr Fanie Steyn

Dr Fanie Steyn completed the first year of a BSc degree at the University of the Free State and continued to graduate as a veterinarian (BVSc) from Onderstepoort Veterinary College in 2003. He was employed by Ramsem and became veterinary reproductive team leader in embryo flushing, transfer and laparoscopic inseminations in sheep and goats. He is currently a director at Ramsem, Absolute Wagyu and Absolute Genetics.

Dr Steyn also oversees the Ramsem bull station which is registered to collect bovine semen for local and international markets. The most recent addition to the above-mentioned laboratories has been the first semen sexing laboratory in Africa, courtesy of Sexing Technologies. The addition of semen sexing services is bound to change the reproductive breeding industry going forward.

Prof Kennedy Dzama

Prof Kennedy Dzama is the deputy dean of the Faculty of Agri Sciences at Stellenbosch University. He previously served as chair of the Department of Animal Sciences. He holds a PhD from Texas A&M University in the USA and has taught at a number of universities in Southern Africa, including the Universities of Malawi, Zimbabwe, Fort Hare and Stellenbosch.

His research areas span the major livestock species in Southern Africa, primarily to characterise them and map genes of economic importance using both classical quantitative genetics and genomics tools. He was a founding member of the SA National Livestock Genomics Task Team which pioneered genomic selection locally. He is also a senior advisor to SADC/CCARDESA regarding animal genetics resources.

Jan van Zyl

Jan van Zyl is a born and bred resident of Olifantshoek, and a well-known Brahman breeder and producer. Having fallen in love with Brahman cattle breed as a high school student, Van Zyl purchased five bulls and registered himself as a stud breeder. After matriculating in 1974, he attended the Glen Agricultural College and established the Kroon Vee Brahman stud.

The stud has been an enormous success receiving numerous awards such as the 2002 Agricultural Writers’ Farmer of the Year for the central region, the 2008 Southern African Stud Breeder of the Year, and the 2014 South African National Cattle Farmer of the Year. The crowning glory was receiving the champion breeder title from the South African Brahman Cattle Breeders’ Society. Farming is a family affair and Van Zyl’s sons, Gideon and Jan jr, were awarded the 2023 Northwest Young Farmer of the Year and 2023 Stockman titles respectively this year.

Jeanine Labuschagne

Jeanine is the HerdMASTER support representative for Southern Africa. She provides breeders with technical support and training to effectively utilise the on-farm HerdMASTER software program. She has always been employed in a customer support role.

Jeanine joined AgriBSA in 2012 in a supporting role to the late Dr Michael Bradfield, and was appointed in the role of HerdMASTER support representative for Southern Africa in 2016. She joined the Livestock Registering Federation (LRF) in 2020 when the company merged with AgriBSA. She is based in Centurion, Gauteng.

Johan Styger

Johan Styger started farming with cattle in 1978. This family operation in the Rooiberg district in Limpopo was the start of a lifelong passion for genetic progress in cow-calf operations. Since 2004 he is also the owner of the BTB Simmentaler stud near Hartbeesfontein, Northwest. Johan focusses on easy-to-use tools for the genetic improvement of beef cattle in Southern Africa. The majority of this effort is focussed on the development and optimisation of breed specific economic selection indices. He has assisted Simmentaler, Brangus, Simbra and Wagyu producers with implementing new-generation indices on the Breedplan BreedObject platform.

Johan holds a BSc(Hons) Civil Engineering degree from UP, and is a registered professional engineer and project manager. He is the current vice-president of the LRF and a member of the Simmentaler breed improvement committee.

Kobus Bester

Until 2013 Kobus Bester was the financial director at a construction company that did specialised work in the petroleum industry. In 2002, Kobus registered the Vleisberg Simbra stud and has since been farming with Simbras on the farm Elandskuil, just outside Ventersdorp. He focusses on breeding parent stock/seedstock for the stud market, and also supplies the commercial market with stud animals of increased intrinsic value. He served on the Simbra advisory committee for many years, and for five years served as president of the former joint Simmentaler and Simbra Cattle Breeders’ Society.

Bester has been involved with the LRF since 2012, serving as chairperson for two years. He is still actively involved in the management of the LRF. He also represents the LRF at the Red Meat Producers’ Organisation (RPO), and is currently the breed director of the Simbra Cattle Breeders’ Society of Southern Africa.

Dr Stephen Miller

Dr Stephen Miller joined the Animal Genetics and Breeding Unit (AGBU) at the University of New England in New South Wales as its deputy director in late 2020. He was appointed director in September 2021. Prior to this Dr Miller was the director of Genetic Research for Angus Genetics Inc. (AGI) in Saint Joseph, Missouri, USA where he furthered the evaluation methods for the association’s weekly National Cattle Evaluation and AGI clients. Prior to joining AGI, he was a principal scientist with the animal genomics team at AgResearch Ltd in New Zealand. 

Originally from Canada, Dr Miller was on faculty at the University of Guelph for 14 years where he finished as the director of the Centre for Genetic Improvement of Livestock. He has experience in genetic improvement across a range of species but is best known for his work in beef cattle and has 25 years of experience with livestock genetics, genomics and technology.

Mooketsa Ramasodi

Mooketsa Ramasodi is an agriculturist with 21 years’ involvement in developmental, regulatory and international aspects of agriculture. He has been in the senior management service of the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) for the past 11 years. Ramasodi has successfully carried out various positions within the department such as chief director of inspection and quarantine services and director of inspection service.

He holds a Diploma in Agriculture, Bachelor of Agricultural Management, BA Honours (InstAgrar), Certificate in Industrial Marketing, Master of Institutional Agriculture (Agronomy) and an MBL.

Paul Williams

Paul Williams is a technical officer with the Agricultural Business Research Institute’s (ABRI) extension services. Williams provides beef breeders with extension services and technical support to maximise understanding and use of genetic technologies, including the BREEDPLAN genetic evaluation. He previously worked in beef cattle research specialising in real time ultrasound scanning for both carcass and fertility traits. Williams has been with ABRI since 2012 and is based in Australia in Rockhampton, Queensland.

Williams completed his studies at Queensland Agricultural College and worked as a technical officer at CSIRO for 22 years before joining ABRI. During his time in CSIRO, Paul was involved in a number of Beef CRC I, II and III research projects.

Prof Phillip Strydom

Prof Phillip Strydom joined the Department of Animal Sciences at Stellenbosch University on 1 July 2020. He was formerly head of the Meat Science Centre at the Animal Production Campus of the Agricultural Research Council (ARC). Over the past three decades his research focussed on processes involved in the management and optimisation of meat yield and quality. During his research he engaged with international research groups and spent a sabbatical year at INRA France in 2004.

Prof Strydom serves on the editorial board of Meat Science. He has authored and co-authored several scientific papers and contributed to chapters in textbooks and encyclopaedias. At Stellenbosch University, he lectures undergraduate students in Meat Science and lead post graduate studies at Masters and PhD level.

Dr Schabort Froneman

Dr Schabort Froneman is a veterinarian who graduated from the veterinary faculty of the University of Pretoria at Onderstepoort in 2014, after which he launched his veterinary career in a mixed animal practice in Clocolan in the Free State. In 2015 he started his own herd health practice in Bethlehem, which focussed mainly on bovine health and production. From 2018 to 2019 he expanded into feedlot production medicine, providing consultation services to both beef and sheep feedlots for S & E Consulting.

At the end of 2019 he was appointed as the technical manager responsible for extensive beef and feedlot production at animal health company, Zoetis South Africa. In his current role as technical manager, he strives to promote bovine health and production through knowledge, research and education.

Theo Venter

Theo Venter is professor of practice at the University of Johannesburg and was previously attached to the NWU Business School until his retirement in December 2020. He was special advisor to two vice-chancellors of the North-West University (2004 to 2016). He is also a political commentator on South African politics, especially on radio and TV since 1987. He has received recognition by the NWU as one of the most quoted members of the university staff in the media. In 2015 he was nominated as Agriculturalist of the Year by the Agricultural Writers’ Association.

He writes a monthly opinion column for Farmer’s Weekly and holds two master’s degrees in political science, one of which was obtained in the USA as a Fulbright scholar. He is the current chair of the North West expert panel on developing the NW Growth and Development Strategy and serves as member of NWU council.

Lisa Rumsfeld

Lisa Rumsfeld has lived and worked in the United States, Europe, and Asia over the past 25 years. She has experience in a variety of industries such as data management, industrial products, animal health and precision agriculture technology. She has held a range of roles leading global sales and marketing teams. For the past 15 years, Rumsfeld has been working with beef, dairy and swine producers to deploy precision livestock technology.

She focusses on helping beef and dairy producers use technology to accelerate genetics progress to increase efficiency and profit to be more sustainable. She graduated from Villanova University majoring in economics. She later received her MBA from Thunderbird, The American Graduate School of International Management. She speaks French, German and Spanish and resides with her family in Germany.

Jody Young

Jody Young is the current part-time technical assistant at the Livestock Registering Federation. Young’s passion for agriculture is clear with her keen interest in precision agriculture, food security and animal welfare. Her passion was of value as a mentor during the 2022 University of Pretoria’s Agric Feedlot Challenge and in her two published AgriOrbit articles (www.agriorbit.com) on the importance of proper animal handling and carcass quality.

Young is enrolled for the MSc Agric Animal Science degree, that will assist her in her aspirations of becoming a meaningful contributor to agricultural innovation as a female scientist in a male-dominated sector. Young is also an accomplished saxophonist.

 Nandi Kruger

Nandi Kruger inherited her love for the care of farm animals from her late grandfather, Dr Willem du Toit Malan, Standerton’s state veterinarian for 51 years. Since completing her high school diploma in 2001, Kruger hasn’t stopped upskilling herself in the field of animal science. She completed the Rothman’s Livestock Training Service and CRV XSeed’s respective courses on AI and pregnancy, the LRF’s RTU technician training and accreditation, and she worked abroad.

Kruger has been a passionate livestock farmer since 2001, with her academic training coming in very handy.

Anri Strauss

Anri Strauss, animal nutritionist at Chemuniqué, is renowned for her unwavering passion for the sheep and beef industry, which she has recently expanded to encompass the feedlot industry. Strauss’s academic journey led her to the University of Pretoria, where she majored in animal science. Her master’s degree research on beef feedlots was part of a larger project investigating ration digestibility in feedlot animals.

Megan Hilton

Megan Hilton obtained her BSc Agric in 2022 and is currently in the first year of her Masters degree. She is an intern at animal health and welfare company, Huvepharma. Her area of interest is the role of precision livestock technologies in the improvement of animal health and welfare.

Register now to ensure your seat. For more information, visit www.stockmanschool.co.za or contact Charmaine Alberts at 082 922 3747.

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