By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK Given the good forecast of stable beef prices on the market and the quality of beef, Namibian farmers are keen to improve their current breed stock by showcasing their animals at the ongoing Windhoek Agricultural and Industrial Show. Over the years, more local communal and commercial farmers have realized the importance of showing each other their various breeds of livestock and small stock in order to learn from one another or engage in cross-breeding for better quality animals at the end of the day. One such local farmer, Nichlas Mbingeneeko, has entered the Windhoek Show for the past two years running. Seeing it as an ideal marketing platform for him to showcase his latest Damara sheep to judges and other exhibitors, Mbingeneeko is optimistic that he will gain much from the show and from the Damara Breeders Association of Namibia’s championships. As part of this championship, each small stock farmer or breeder was required to enter only 15 sheep. The whole initiative is geared towards improving their breeds for future sustainability. “At the show, I am getting a chance to compare my animals with other top breeders. It’s also good for me to bring what I have to the capital, and I’m willing to talk business with whoever might be interested, he said,” as he walked through the pen where his sheep were being kept at the showgrounds. Judging normally starts off with group classes of animals, followed soon afterwards by the individual categories. Having been in the farming business in Aranos district since 1994, Mbingeneeko knows all too well the challenges of breeding such animals. “The biggest challenge with Damara sheep is to be able to breed it to perfection as per the breed standards, like the head, tail, hide and body, but to be the same as the standards,” he added. However, shows like these have been a positive inspiration for him and many others who exhibit there. Sharing the same sentiment another farmer, Jan Kowitz, who breeds with female cattle said that he’s been part and parcel of the show for the past 15 years. “It is really worth my while and, with good advertising at the show, the results are promising,” said Kowitz. Meanwhile, walking past the pens of the different types of goats, cattle and sheep, one notices how the caretakers look after the animals by giving them fresh hay and water. As the saying goes, the animals must look good for the show, as well as for the spectators and judges who come to view them. However, this can be a difficult task for any of the workers who take care of them. They practically have to sleep with the animals to maintain this good service at the end of the day. “We sleep and eat here. What else can we do because we don’t have a choice,” said one worker who did not want to be named. Sitting around a small fire, he and his mates were eating their lunch, while just behind them, in the hay, are matrasses folded up in the pens of the animals. Yet at the end of the day, for these farmers and workers it means being able to be the best. After all, that is what the Windhoek Agricultural and Industrial Show is all about.
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