By Staff Reporter WINDHOEK Following the exceptional prices paid for karakul skins during the Copenhagen fur auctions recently, local farmers last week paid record prices to supplement their karakul herds. An average price of N$6 515 per ram on offer was paid during the Elite ram auction in Keetmanshoop last week. The highest price recorded was N$17 000 for a black karakul ram sold by Lovedale Farming cc and purchased by Hartebeesloop Farming from Stampriet. The highest bid for a white karakul ram was N$12 000, again offered by local breeder Hartebeesloop Farming. The prices for rams are amongst the highest ever paid for breeding material in the karakul industry, and follow the exceptional prices obtained at the pelt auctions in Copenhagen. Pieter Hugo of Agra says breeders at the auction were prepared to pay the equivalent of 15 pelts per breeding ram, expressed in prices obtained at the latest pelt auction. In the past, an acceptable norm was to calculate the price per ram at 20 pelts, when prices per pelt obtained at the auction were markedly lower. This indicates that ram prices may increase even further in the future. A total of 64 rams were on auction during this prestigious karakul ram auction presented by Agra’s well-known auctioneer Dallies Greef in Keetmanshoop. Unlike other auctions, karakul stud auctions are done through a catalogue, based on photographs of the ram on offer. After viewing the rams at the auction pens, buyers moved to a local hotel, where photographs of the rams on offer were projected onto a big screen, and bidders made their decisions based on the information from the catalogue. “The average ram has a lifetime of about 7 years. It is normal practice that farmers replace about 20% of their herd per year, due to the age of the rams. One ram produces about 30 lambs per season,” said Pieter Hugo, Agra’s senior manager livestock. According to Hugo, bidding was very competitive, with many potential buyers wanting to buy good quality breeding material. Also present at the auction were a large number of communal farmers. Currently, about 20 percent of Namibia’s karakul pelt production comes from communal farmers, and interest in this kind of farming is increasing. The popularity of karakul furs has increased dramatically over the past months, due to a well orchestrated and intensified international marketing campaign, which has played a big role in re-positioning karakul as a top quality fur.