After scaling down its wheat production and expanding its dairy herd over the last 15 years from 350 to 2,350 cows, a family farm in South Africa’s Western Cape province improved its average milk yield gradually by 42% to 14,600 kg/cow per year. This farming enterprise now also invested R10 million in its own bio-digester. Biogas plants on SA farms were previously regarded as too expensive, but a SA engineering company came up with an effective design that is 42-55% cheaper than a European system.
North of Cape Town, near the town of Darling, brothers Willem and Paul Basson run a mixed farming enterprise on the farm Uilenkraal (1,500ha). Because of a low average rainfall of just 300mm per year, wheat production contributes only 7% to their farming income, while 65% comes from milk production.
Moreover, they produce potatoes under irrigation from boreholes, fodder crops such as oats, sweet lupines, canola and maize, while they also farm Dohne Merino sheep, Bonsmara beef cattle and ostriches. In the farm's feed mill concentrates are manufactured for their own animals and for other farms. Two thirds of the dairy herd are housed in modern Italian cow barns and currently they have 1,200 cows in milk. They receive R4,54/litre, while their input costs are R3,70/litre.