IT’S a load of bull – all R1,8 million worth of bull in fact.

At an auction held near Wasbank in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province, cattle breeder Derek Ralfe put up his prized Bonsmara bull for sale – and the result was a national record.

Some 68 bulls sold for an average of R110,000, but bull LAR14173 opened bidding at R200,000, racing to close at R1,8 million. The winning bid was from the AVD Group, combining seven Bonsmara breeders – André van der Heyde, Nico Pieterse, Surina Smal, Ben Bosch, Andries Kruger, Paul Mare and Christoff Smit, reported the Farmers Weekly.

Brandon Leer of AAM Livestock Agents and Auctioneers said in over 30 years in the trade, the bull was one of the best he had ever seen.

“There’s no doubt the Up George Bonsmara Stud is one of best Bonsmara producers in South Africa. There were great expectations, and a lot of hype around this sale. Sometimes there was a bit of a lag in bidding, but by the time it went past R1.2m, they really got into it,” said Lee.

“Until then, many thought they had an opportunity, but there were just two end-bidders and they had real conviction in their bidding.”

Ralfe, who runs Up George Bonsmaras with his wife Tutu, said the bull’s attributes included a good build, a superb maternal line, excellent performance measurements, and proven siring ability.

The second-highest priced bull was bought by Nick Serfontein of the Sernick Group for R270,000. The top-priced female animal was a three-in-one cow bought by Laurence Allem for R150,000.

Cows with calves at foot were sold for well over an average price of R47,000, while in-calf cows averaged about R18,000.

A total of 116 registered buyers from all over South Africa, as well as Botswana and Zimbabwe attended the sale.

For those who might not know their Brahmin from their Bonsmara, the latter is a South African breed that has found its way onto studs as far afield as Australia and Brazil.

About 30 years ago, Derek and his father, Lawrence Ralfe, started the Up George Farm in the Elands-laagte area. Both Derek and Tutu grew up on farms and acquired their passion for breeding cattle from their fathers, both highly respected cattlemen.

According to Karen Melouney, one of the owners of AAM, Bonsmaras are scientifically bred, strictly selected and popular with both stud and commercial breeders.

“They adapt well on the veld and are renowned for their mothering ability, fertility, high weaning weights, easy calving and superior growth under intensive and extensive conditions and have a good temperament,” said Melouney.

According to Tutu, who is delighted with the outcome of the auction, their herd is not pampered. “They run on the veld with a lick given in accordance with the season. We are very hands-on and apply a strict vaccination and health programme.”