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Animal improvement and breeders


  • The registration of animals maintains the interest in specific breeds, and also leads to a pursuit of excellence – i.e. to get top performance from the animal. There is a vast difference between performances of the two groups within most breeds where registered animals outperform non-registered animals. There is also a vast price difference between them. The breed is thus promoted, and the breeder obtains maximum return on his investment.
  • The first objective of the registration of animals is a guarantee to the buyer that the particular animal is authentic in terms of breed, breeding, breeder, performance, breeding values etc. Other objectives include breed improvement and limiting of inbreeding. The farmer who breeds with unregistered animals of a particular breed is not regarded as a bona fide breeder but as a commercial one.
  • The breeders’ societies are a vital part of organised agriculture.
  • Registered animals around the world are also known as seedstock-, stud-, pedigree- and pure-bred animals. With the infrastructure breed societies have, it is easy and straightforward to register animals.


Artificial insemination (AI) is the placement of sperm into a female reproductive tract by other than natural means. The use of AI is a very cost effective way to speed up genetic improvement because it allows the use of superior male animals to be propagated very easily and quickly.


Cloning uses specialised DNA technology to produce multiple, exact copies of a single animal. The first calf was cloned in South Africa in 2003. It is envisaged that cloning will become a cost effective way to speed up genetic improvement as exact replicas of superior animals can be produced.


Embryo transfer is the process of removing embryos from a superior cow and placing them in a surrogate cow where they develop into a calf. Like AI, embryo transfer is a very cost effective way to speed up genetic improvement. In this instance the genetics of a superior female animal can be propagated.


In Genomics, hereditary characteristics are passed down through DNA, the “blueprint” of the organism. Genomics is a branch of genetics which deals specifically with the sequence of chemical bases in DNA. Genomics complements existing technologies like performance testing, and will accelerate genetic improvement.


Laparoscopic-assisted artificial insemination is when, simultaneously to AI, gas is inserted to assist insemination.


Performance recording entails the measuring of traits that affects the profitability of the animal and ultimately the breed. Different breeds measure different attributes based on what is considered important to that breed. Members of cattle breed societies usually measure attributes such as reproduction, growth, carcass and functional efficiency. Merino breeders would for example measure additional traits such as fibre diameter and fleece weight.

Breeds and breeder societies

A Breeders’ Society may be formed if members of a particular breed wish to form such a society. The application forms can be obtained from the registrar at the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD). Breeders’ Societies exist for most breeds of animals. The objectives of most societies are to:

  • promote and develop their breed;
  • offer various services to their members;
  • improve the national herd in the country.


The Animal Improvement Act of 1998 allows societies to issue their own registration certificates if they so wish. These societies act as their own registering authorities. The SA Stud Book is a registration authority providing registration and secretarial services on behalf of many different breed societies. BREEDPLAN fulfils a similar function.

Registration certificates certify that an animal is a “stud” animal and is issued on behalf of the Breeders’ Society. These certificates are intended to be a guarantee that the animal has met certain requirements as laid down by the society and registering authority.

A list of registered Breeders’ Societies with their contact details is given under relevant headings later on this page. Lists may also be found at the following websites: and

For the newcomer

When deciding on a breed, the following points are important:

  • Preference and love of the breed is imperative.
  • Suitability of the farm for stud breeding, i.e.: situation of property; quality of grazing; supplementary feed production potential and/or availability source of supply; sufficient, well watered camps; good handling, kraaling and, if necessary, shedding facilities.
  • Provision for fairly large financial commitments, especially at the outset in order to finance the purchase of good breeding material.
  • Stud breeding is a long-term investment with no instant formula for quick results.
  • A stud breeder must be prepared to continually broaden his knowledge and keep abreast of modern developments and tendencies.
  • The breeder must aim for a breeding programme that recognises the most economic characteristics of the breed – avoid a haphazard breeding policy.
  • Use all the modern selection aids to facilitate a stud-breeding venture e.g. keeping of records with one of the Registering Authorities and Performance Testing.
  • Prospective stud breeders must have certain managerial qualities, as stud breeding requires sound decision-making, planning and care of the animals.
  • Good public relations are essential. Easy communication with people and honesty with yourself and with others play an important role.
  • The chosen breed should suit your production system.

Registering Authorities

Knowing about the relationship between individual animals (i.e. who the father is/was), AND performance measurements are vital for the genetic improvement of farm livestock. Classical pedigrees (which reflect only the name/number of an animal and its ancestor) have a limited value when it comes to livestock improvement. Modern pedigrees are:

  • based on scientifically founded recording methods and systems;
  • linked to performance.


These are indispensable for optimal genetic progress. A record is kept on these results.


Kaonafatso ya Dikgomo (KyD) is “a dedicated animal recording scheme for emerging/ smallholder farmers”. For general information, call the ARC at 012 672 9111.

National strategy and government contact

The Directorate Animal Production at the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) is responsible for the evaluation of new breeds and the regulation of the activities of breed societies and registration authorities. Application forms to register for the above can be found at  Regulations pertaining to Animal Improvement are published in the Animal Improvement Act, 1998 (Act 62 of 1998). The Act is administered by the Directorate.

The aim of the Directorate Farm Animal Genetic Resources is to “ensure the conservation and sustainable use of farm animal genetic resources (FAnGR) for food and agriculture”. Find its pages at


Role players


Note: Click to expand the headings below. To get a free listing on our website like the ones below, visit here for more information or place your order hereDisclaimer: The role player listings are not vetted by this website.

Brakfontein Embryo Centre – Category: Artificial Insemination/Embryo services
Breedplan – Category: Software Programmes Category: Artificial Insemination/Embryo services
Unistel Medical Laboratories Animal Genetics – Various DNA based technologies available for animal genetic testing
Draminski – Pregnancy detectors (sheep, pigs), bull semen analyser
 Representative Bodies
 Training, Consulting & Research Service Providers
 Community, NGO and NPO Service Providers

Further reference:

  • For details of Breeder Group Societies, see the “Cattle”, “Sheep” etc headings further down this page.
  • Livestock Registering Federation (LRF)  The principal business and purpose of the Livestock Registering Federation is to unite, promote and protect its members acting as Independent Registration Authorities (Animal Improvement Act 62 of 1998), into an affiliated federation.
  • The objectives of SA Stud Book and Animal Improvement Association are to: (1) Assist Breeder Societies to achieve their respective objectives; (2) Safeguard and advance the collective interests of stud breeders and their breeders’ societies; (3) Act as a mouthpiece for the stud breeding industry; (4) Promote the export of animals with credible pedigrees, registered or recorded with the Association of semen or embryos begotten from animals thus registered or recorded; (5) Render technical and advisory services to breeders’ societies and their members; and (6) Act as a breeders’ society in respect of breeds of animals for which no breeders’ society exists.


Software Programmes

  • Many on-farm software programs applicable to animal breeding are available for producers. Many combine the functionality of herd management with on-farm recording. Some of the programmes listed have selection decision aids.



  • There are procedures and protocols applicable here. For further information contact the Registrar of Animal Improvement / Directorate Animal Health.


Training and research

  • Breed societies themselves do training and manage research done on their breed. The Brangus Cattle Breeders Society, for example, provides a beginners course in Brangus stud breeding, and advanced Brangus stud breeding course and inspector courses for Brangus cattle (junior, senior and breed inspector). Find contact details under the earlier, different livestock headings.
  • Find details of the Universities, the Universities of Technology and the Agricultural Colleges in the “Agricultural education and training” chapter. Animal breeding is covered in degrees and diplomas. Some short courses are also offered. The School of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences at the Central University of Technology (Bloemfontein), for example, offers the following short courses: (i) Santa Gertrudis Judging Course; (ii) Dorper Judging Course; (iii) Artificial Insemination (Cattle); (iv) Simbra Judging Course; (v) Dohne Merino course. The University of the Free State runs the post graduate school of animal breeding. This is a body that represents the tuition of post graduate studies in Animal Breeding in South Africa. Visit, website of the university’s Department of Animal, Wildlife and Grassland Sciences. SA Studbook also works closely with the University of Pretoria.
  • Provincial Departments of Agriculture also have an involvement in animal breeding. Find contact details on the “Agriculture in the provinces” page.
  • Some of the companies involved offer some training as part of their packages e.g. herd management, performance recording, A.I. See the “Companies involved” heading.


Beef breeds


Dairy Breeds





Breeds include Chester White, Duroc, Large Black, Large White, Hampshire, QM Hamline, Pietran, Robuster, SA Landrace, Welsh. Contact the Pig Breeders Society of South Africa. Find further information at and

Websites and publications

Visit the websites listed earlier on this page.

  • Many breeders’ societies in South Africa publish an annual journal. Other material is also available in some cases. Visit the respective societies websites or contact them for further information.
  • Find the “Farm Animal Breeds” option on, website of the South African Society of Animal Science (SASAS).
  • Find the cartoon commissioned by the Public Understanding of Biotechnology (PUB) on selective breeding at 
  • Find the Info Pak “Livestock improvement terminology” at 
  • Ramaphosa, C. 2017. Cattle of Ages. Johannesburg: Jacana. See also the Agribook.Digital blog “Of cattle and men“.




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