A recently noted growing trend in farming circles is for urban professionals from the cities to purchase a mixed-use commercial farm stocked with both livestock and game, with the latter providing an alternative income – often in the form of hunting, says Wayne Rubidge, Pam Golding Properties area principal in the Karoo.

“There is keen interest in realistically priced Karoo farms,” says Rubidge, “and a general shift to mixed use farming which may include game, livestock and also agriculture. This has many benefits, including the fact that the continued use of existing livestock infrastructure provides a ready income and continuity in the farming operation, while the carrying capacity of a farm can often be increased by incorporating pasture – or combining game farming with livestock – on a portion of the farm.

“Most buyers have had some form of farming experience, mainly in the Northern provinces, KwaZulu-Natal and the Cape. Existing farmers from the Southern and Western Cape are attracted by the low input costs of a Karoo farm, either for investment or relocation. While not all farmers have animal husbandry experience as they may have been previously involved with agricultural farms, South Africans are resourceful and these farmers quickly grasp the intricacies of livestock farming,” he says.

Rubidge says the size of a sustainable extensive economic farming unit in the Karoo varies from district to district and from region to region, and is primarily based on rainfall which also varies from 150mm per annum in the west, in areas such as Laingsburg and Kenhardt, to 500mm in the Eastern Cape and Southern Free State. In the mountainous regions of the great escarpment, precipitation can be substantially higher due to snowfalls and extra rain patterns. As much as rainfall varies and to a certain extent dictates land use, so does vegetation and topography.

Renowned for producing some of the world’s best wool, mohair, lamb, mutton and venison, the Karoo is also well known for breeding some of the best livestock, horses, and game, and its gene pools are generally very sought after and showcased by magnificent sheep, cattle, game and specialty farms. In regard to the cost of acquiring such a farm, Rubidge says in the western, drier Karoo areas where rainfall is up to around 200mm, prices range from R600 per hectare up to R1500 per ha for a developed farm in the Beaufort West and Victoria West areas. Moving eastwards prices range from R1600 per ha to R2500 per ha in areas like Colesberg and Middelburg where rainfall is around 350mm. In the higher rainfall areas such as the Eastern Cape, prices can go up to R4000 per ha for a developed stock farm - often including livestock and equipment.
Rubidge says today more than ever, buyers are looking at sustainability and returns when buying a farm. On the market exclusively through Pam Golding Properties is Buffelshoek Game Ranch, a well priced, developed mixed-use game farm of 3702ha in size, located in the Somerset East farming district of the Eastern Cape on the market for R12.5 million. This prestigious property is game fenced (steel and concrete), includes a restored, fully equipped manor house with wooden floors and wide windows - tastefully furnished and used as a Karoo lodge for guests with its beautiful mountain views, and also includes a manager’s house, outbuildings, slaughter and handling facilities for cattle and game, 25 ha drag line sprinkler-irrigated pastures and its own landing strip for guests. A sound investment opportunity, the farm is set in a very scenic mountainous area of the
Karoo with good abundant fountain water, diverse vegetation and topography that can provide a very rewarding and sustainable lifestyle and experience. The income is primarily based on cattle farming with African Nguni type cattle which can be purchased separately. During winter guest lodges such as this are popular among high end hunters, while in the summer months they are frequented by farm-stay guests and the likes of photographic safaris.

Rubidge says equally popular as the sought after, mixed-use game farm is a mixed-use stock farm. “There is often plenty of indigenous game on these stock farms such as kudu, springbok, reedbuck, duiker and other species, and it is easy to add further species to the farming mix. Karoo sheep farms which are priced in the right range per hectare for each farming region sell as there is limited availability.  For example if there are 60 livestock farms in a given district, of these not more than 10 percent are generally available to buyers at any given time, and in sought after districts often there are no farms for sale.”

He says sheep farms that can carry around 1000 ewes or more are popular among purchasers. Sizes vary and currently available for purchase in a magnificent mountain setting in the Western Cape’s Karoo is an excellent 2880 ha mixed-use sheep farm that can carry 700 ewes, with 20 hectares of irrigation, 400 olive trees, and 3ha of onion seed production. The working sheep and olive farm has abundant game such as springbok and kudu, as well as other wildlife.  Other farming activities include raising 1000 ostrich chicks annually. The entire agricultural estate is on the market for R6.9875 million and is sold as a running concern including all sheep, implements and equipment, providing potential for sound return on investment. The property includes an appealing three bedroom housed and outbuildings.
Adds Rubidge: “Often buyers will purchase a going concern where livestock or game, implements, equipment or irrigation is included. If both parties are VAT registered then the transaction does not attract transfer duty but VAT at the zero rate. If a change in land use is planned then often the transaction will attract either VAT or transfer duty. The other attraction of acquiring a going concern is that the property has an existing income and therefore provides continuity in the business.” Pam Golding Properties has identified a selection of well priced mixed-use Karoo farms starting from R5 million. 
Issued by Gaye de Villiers

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