While we had all hoped that 2021 would have seen the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is unfortunately not so. It is going to be around longer and remains an ongoing challenge. As essential services we were fortunate to be business as normal, the new ‘normal’ at least. We can only hope that the lockdowns are lifted soon, that vaccines arrive, and some normality returns.
That said, we have a very exciting and action filled year ahead of us. As a group 2020/21 year will go down as a huge investment year despite all the challenges that surrounds us. That is how much we believe in ourselves, all those that work with us, as well as our wonderful country.
- On the Piggery side two mega piggeries are now in an advanced stage of build. Both have taken in their first guilts while the first piglets have been born at Fairfield. The new Piggeries are Fairfield in Ida and Steynsberg in KZN. Each piggery will house 4 800 sows with all its weaners and fattening as well. By the end of 2021 both units will be complete and fully operational.
- On the dairy front, Just Milk has had a very good year despite the effects of COVID-19. We have enjoyed decent milk prices and hope that trend continues into 2021. All indications look favourable. With the takeover of the properties in Elliot we have been flat out with planning the dairy operation. We have upgraded what was a small dairy into a 24 point swing over which will be ready to milk 1st March 2021. A new 66 point rotary is also under construction and as I write, the steel structure is being built. The rotary will be ready to milk in June 2021. We have already moved a number of heifers up which will calve in autumn and spring. By year end we should be milking 1200 cows. The milk will be supplied to Sundale in East London.
- Our Cookhouse Creamery had a tough time during the initial lockdown but has recovered remarkably since. While we still face a number of challenges typical of an old factory, we are making progress. Buster heads up the Creamery and he is confident that the business will grow from strength to strength.
- The new venture in the Elliot area has included the start of a new cropping division which will be called Sunrise crops. This division will be headed up by Handre Schoeman and supported by Ernst Bezuidenhout. This will include farms in Elliot, Ugie and Maclear.
- This year we have planted 2682 Ha maize and 892 Ha Soya. We will cut about 500 Ha of the maize for silage.
- We have consolidated our beef division now which includes the Ida and Elliot farms. Ida will be headed up by Charl Stotter and Mike Fitzhenry will manage the stud Droughtmaster herd. Dupie du Plessis heads up beef division on Elliot/Ugie farms.
- In addition to all the above we have started planning for the building of a new feed mill which will be built on the Elliot property. The mill will feed pigs at the new Fairfield piggery, the existing Queenstown units as well as the dairies in Queenstown, Ida and Elliot. A start up capacity in excess of 100 tons/day.
Exciting times for our company and wonderful opportunities for those that live in and around these areas where all this development is taking place.
Let’s continue to build our country and ensure a better life for all.
Bring on 2021!!