Breeders of quality Nguni cattle and Meatmaster sheep.

Willow Country Estate, a name that conjures up an image of stately willows next to a slow moving river which is exactly what this historical landmark in the eastern Free State is about.  Purchased in 1868 by patriarch Bont Hermaans (Hermanus Nicolaas Wessels) this land has been in the family up until the present day where we find Barry and Naledi Roberts as the current owners.  Naledi grew up on this farm and knows every nook and cranny of this special piece of land, having ridden her horse to school and back and along the banks of the Wilge River which played such an important role during the Boer Wars.

Naledi’s great uncle was the well-known General Wessel Wessels, close friend of General De Wet and President Steyn, a formidable trio during these infamous wars.  The Willow Country land, being strategically positioned alongside the Wilge River harbours many secrets of this period.  It is well documented that its sandstone caves contained the loot from General De Wet’s masterly coup at Rooiwal from which the Boers replenished their supplies right up to the end of the war.  A secluded, natural drift on the Wilge river also afforded clandestine river crossing to the highly mobile Boer fighters, aiding them in their very successful guerrilla tactics against the British.

Since 2001 Barry and Naledi have been managing the estate, focused on breeding stud Nguni cattle and Meatmaster sheep.  The grazing is predominately Highveld, sourveld perennial grasses and the area is known for an annual, average rainfall of 700mm.  The summer seasons are mild and the winters can be harsh and unforgiving with regular sub-zero morning temperatures and occasionally dipping deep into the double figures.

The Nguni cattle, indigenous to Africa and ingrained in this environment makes for a visual feast against the undulating terrain of the land.  At Willow Country the focus is on genetic purity of the breed and strict selection criteria are applied to promote type, fertility, vigour and adaptability.  The Nguni cattle of Willow Country are testimony to the agelessness of this land and the care and focus that they enjoy.

This same care and attention is also devoted to the Willow Country herd of Meatmaster sheep which had its origin in the embryo herd of Boom van Deventer and Mohimba Meatmasters.  The lessons learnt on genetics in cattle stud breeding are now being applied to the sheep herd and the success in the outcomes are clearly evident.

On the farm gallery