The Karoo is home to several kinds of farming activity not to be found elsewhere in South Africa. The Karoo is famous for its merino sheep and wool industry, its mohair industry and the rearing of ostrich chicks. Alongside the wool industry go several skills, such as those of the shepherd, stock fence ‘draadspanners’, sheep-shearing and shearers, the ‘Karretjiesmense’ and the making of wool and sheepskin products.
Victoria West is known as the ‘Merino Mecca’ of South Africa where one can find some of the best quality wool. The area specialises in small livestock farming especially Merino sheep.
The Victoria West district gets between 300mm-350mm rain per year. Much of this water is lost due to the high degree of evaporation. Because of the decrease in river flow, the field recovery re-grow of the bush is very slow. Sheep farming has formed the backbone of the Karoo economy since the 1880’s and many farming families have been part of the sector since then. The size of the commercial farms are between 7 000 and 15 000 ha. A 7 000ha farm can keep approximately 1 800 sheep.
Why wear Merino wool?
Merino wool is odourless, price competitive, has natural UV protection, warmth breathability and moisture management. It is machine washable and tumble dries perfectly.
Internationally renowned designer Akiral Isogawa, describes Merino wool as wonderful to work with: “It is a natural fibre and provides excellent breathability. The sheer nature of the fabric feels luxuriously gentle against the skin.” His garments are sold in every major world fashion capital, held in the collections of major galleries and museums and are considered wearable art.
Researchers and manufacturers constantly develop new products and methods of processing wool. Wool is used in blending with other fabrics, manufacturing of medical applications, health garments, protective clothing and aerospace products.
Why Merino mutton and lamb?
Merino Lamb is genetically lean, succulent, rich in flavour, low in kilojoules and rich in protein, iron and vitamins. The fine grain allows for meat of a delicate flavour and tender texture after cooking. Almost all cooking methods can be used with the different cuts including grilling, barbecuing, braising, stir frying, pan frying, roasting and stewing. Merino lamb is delicious served hot or cold and lends itself to being flavoured in many delightful ways.
“With our experience in the meat trade, we find that the Merino sheep and lamb have the best quality meat in the world.” ML Bux, Director, Halan Meats, Durban.
“Studies of the quality of meat were unanimous in that Merinos produce meat that rates highly in terms of flavour, tenderness and overall acceptability.” International Journal of Sheep and Wool Science
There are also many game farms and hunting farms close to Victoria West. Game thrives in the wide open spaces and mountain terrain, offering a unique hunting experience. Hunting is a popular and growing form of high-end tourism. Hunters rate the Karoo because it offers good sport and is free of the human disease they have to dodge in many other African hunting zones – nasties like cholera and malaria are unknown in the Karoo, which is a significant point to many travellers from Europe.
Hunters are usually time-poor travellers and quick access to hunting venues might allow them to explore the surrounding area – for most venues, almost a whole day is needed to get in and out and back to the entrance airport.