Our CLA beef trial

Dear Reader

Providing our clients with the healthiest beef available is one of our goals. Despite the evidence (this is for the scientific peer reviewed obsessed factory farmers out there) there are many misguided souls who believe in feedlot beef. They will come around to the facts, eventually.

One of the major benefits of grass fed beef is CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid). Regarded by many as anti cancer, anti inflammatory etc.

We have started a 5 year experiment with 8 different beef breeds to see which produces the highest CLA count. This was inspired by the Simmentaler Breed Society who claim that their breed has 30% higher CLA than any other breed.

Our 5 year trial is being supervised by Dr Carel Muller of Elsenburg with input from Prof Kennedy Dzama of Stellenbosch University. Post slaughter a sample of the loin muscle is taken from the carcass and once all have been slaughtered then the Medical Research Council will do the analysis. We have 10 oxen from each breed and by the end of this year we should have slaughtered all of them.

The English Breeds ( the first two are currently topping the scales on daily weight gain)





The French Breeds




The South African Breed



Mixed breeds


Brangus (not in this year’s trial but we plan to from next year)

This high CLA beef is only available from Bill Riley Butchery, 021 511 552, or from us as the one whole animal mince which I wrote about here. Finally occasionally from the Somerset West Spar and Paul Roos Spar in Stellenbosch. Of course only the Cape’s finest restaurants serve it too.

Stay well

Why farm mechanically when you can farm biologically?

We always try to opt for the biological solution where possible. This vignette, pertaining to management of our cover crop in the vineyards, illustrates the point I am trying to make.

A major problem for almost every wine farm at this time of the year is a weed called Ramnas, a type of wild radish. It outcompetes the cover crops and will eventually hinder the flow of air through the vineyard (increasing the risk of fungal diseases) and where it grows particularly well it grows higher than the cordon and interferes with vineyard growth.


All weeds are messengers and what ramnas indicates is leached nitrogen. Most artificial fertiliser leaches and ramnas has the ability with it’s long taproot to go and mine the nitrogen. We have ramnas because we are in conversion of our vineyards from conventional to organic and eventually biodynamic management. Spier was conventionally farmed for many, many years. Instead of listening to the messenger, my fellow wine farmers shoot it.

The standard solution to ramnas is to send the tractor in with a bossiekapper(a giant lawnmower). Usually twice a season. This achieves the following:

  1.  Compaction of your soil.
  2. The ramnas lies on the ground, and because there is no life in the soil because it is chemically farmed, it will take a very long to break down.
  3. Diesel cost.
  4. Tractor driver costs.
  5. The cover crop is also mown which removes the primary reason for having the cover crop in the first place, namely biomass in the vineyard.
  6. Maintenance costs for the tractor.

What we do is put 237 cattle into 1 hectare and move them twice a day.

There are none of the above mentioned expenses and more importantly there are the following benefits:

  1. The ramnas has been eaten and gone through the digestive system of the herbivore(not a grainivore) and is therefore bioavailable to the microbes in the soil.
  2. The cover crop has been eaten by a herbivore which has an enzyme in its spit that stimulates plant growth and so the recovery in the cover crop is tremendous.
  3. Cattle herdmen cost a lot less than tractor drivers.
  4. The electric fence that contains the cattle is solar powered and movable.
  5. An enormous amount of free, microbe friendly fertiliser has been deposited in the vineyard in the form of manure and urine.



Below is the after

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