After flying down to Cape Town on Sunday and staying with fellow Nuffield Scholar Holly Beckett, we then went to meet our next host Angus McIntosh (Farmer Angus)
Angus was working for Goldman Sachs in London as a stockbroker then was inspired by ‘the omnivores dilemma ‘ book by Michael Pollan and was also inspired by Joel Salatin to go home to South Africa to farm. He now farms biodynamic grass fed beef and outdoor raised poultry for eggs and meat on the Spier Estate near Stellenbosch. He markets the produce under his Farmer Angus brand http://www.farmerangus.co.za
Farmer Angus established his pastures six years ago and now runs his herd of about 300 head of mainly Limousin cattle on these pastures using the mob grazing techniques
This herd get moved twice a day at 11.30am and 4pm. At 4pm the sugars in the pastures are at their highest. Angus does not use bagged fertilser on the soil but uses a free choice mineral lick
There are various minerals in each compartment and Angus believes the cow knows which one she needs and then they will manure the pasture with the same mineral in a an organic form so slowly improve the mineral content of the pasture.
In one of the salt licks he adds legume seeds to try to help thicken out the pasture. Angus has to irrigate his pastures and would like to install a pivot because his current irrigation system is not working too well
The current sprinkler system does not spread the water far enough so the pasture is patchy and with the constant wind you get in this area it get blown in one direction. This means you get small clumps of good pasture around a sprinkler.
After the cows have been through the pasture they are followed by the chickens
These are moved daily in chicken tractors
Angus has 4000 laying hens in his system.
Angus uses compost, compost tea and BD preps on his land
He makes his tea using the above equipment of a flow form and a tea Brewer.
Angus has his own butchery and kills 4 cows a week which goes through his own cutting room and is all sold under his brand
Spencer is 72 and is in charge in the butchery. They make many products but Biltong is my favourite
Before we left on Wednesday morning Angus showed us another one of his ideas. He has a plant which you put salt in one end
Put in the treatment vessel and pass an electrical current across the liquid
This then gives you two environmentally friendly products
You get a degreaser and a steriliser product from this process which they use to clean their equipment and help heal animals. They also put the steriliser in the animals water and have seen the animal health increase.
Angus has a real enthusiasm for farming and is willing to try anything to see if it works. It was a real inspiration to see how he is developing his farm and I will be interested to see how it looks here in ten years time. Thank you Angus for hosting us for two days and showing us around.