Location & Contact Details:
Dr Bennie van der Merwe
Tel: 022-9421782/ 255
MOUTONSHOEK is the passion of Chris Gerber, a Johannesburg businessman, and Dr Bennie van der Merwe, veterinarian and is located down the road from Wilgerbosdrift with the Piketberge in the background.
Moutonshoek stands all of Mambo in Seattle, Marchfield and new comers The United States (a Grade 1 winning son of Galileo) and Admiral Kitten (a Grade 1 winning son of Kitten’s Joy).
Stallions standing at this Stud:
Moutonshoek has large paddocks on limestone-rich soil – the farm is spread over 950 ha. The equine athletes play, run and grow up strong with good bone. There is plenty of water and the farm produces good, natural grazing all year round – knee high rye grass in the winter and kweekgras in the summer. The farm produces all its own lucern, teff and oats which is analysed regularly to ensure that the horses’ dietary intake remains balanced and of the highest quality.
Chris is a dyed-in-the-wool racing man and Bennie has worked with thoroughbreds for his entire professional life.
Moutonshoek Stud was founded with 5 foundations mares. Bennie chuckles and says back then the ambition was “One day when we’re big, we want to have 30 mares! Today we have more than a lot of mares and stand four stallions! Moutonshoek stands all of Mambo in Seattle, Marchfield and new comers The United States (a Grade 1 winning son of Galileo) and Admiral Kitten (a Grade 1 winning son of Kitten’s Joy).
The philosophy in building the mare band has simply been to go for the best and Moutonshoek have aimed to ensure that the majority of their mares have enough pedigrees for their progeny to enjoy automatic qualification for National Sales. The balance are mares we believe in, but they will have to make their own way. Obviously the dream is to have a band of mares where all have National quality pedigrees, but they are well on their way. Bennie says they have a really nice mix of mares with a lot of depth and variety in their bloodlines and believe they have representatives of all the serious bloodlines in the world.
There are stables, although Bennie says the only time they use them is during sales prep, to keep the sun off the yearlings’ coats. There is a well-equipped mini veterinary hospital and Karel Skirmaans (who was trained John Kramer) has been with the farm for years and is in charge of the horses along with Assistant Stud Manager Romi Bettison.
In terms of designing their matings, the farm spends inordinate hours with software programme that helps them plan each mating. Bennie says “We get a list of 40 stallions and then because I’m a vet, conformation and compatibility are paramount, so I’ll factor in all the necessary criteria before making a final decision.” Chris is very hands on regarding these matters in particular.
Bennie foals down all the mares and once the mare and foal have had a few days to bond and the foal has had all the necessary medical checks, is drinking well, etc, they are turned out into the large camps and that’s more or less where they stay until sale time rolls round.
Paddocks are rotated on a counter clockwise system and rested for 3-6 months at a time to prevent overgrazing. “We keep things to extreme basics. We ensure they have good food and take care of their feet and teeth and have a very basic weaning system of stealing the mares out of the paddocks. Youngstock are raised following the horse’s natural cycle. We raise them up on the higher lying areas of the farm as it’s a few degrees warmer up there. You can’t keep them to any kind of straight line growth trajectory, it’s simply not possible without compromising their skeletal integrity. Horses will naturally grow slowly in the winter months and then grow like blazes in the summer. We do not feed them up until we up their workload. And it shows in our results. Our horses all get clean x-rays because we build the skeletal system correctly before we load it”