Dr Hinner Köster is President of the SA Hereford Cattle Breed.
More about dr Köster
He was born on the 17th of April 1965 and raised on a large cattle ranch in Vryburg in the North Western Province. He matriculated in 1982 from the Vryburg High School and continued his education at the University of Pretoria where he obtained his B. Sc. Agric. in 1986, his B. Sc. Agric. (Hons.) in 1987 and his M. Sc. Agric. (Animal Nutrition) in 1990.
In 1995 he completed his Ph.D. in Ruminant Nutrition at Kansas State University, USA, where he also served as President of the Graduate Student Association.
His groundbreaking Ph.D. research in the area of protein supplementation on poor quality roughages is widely cited in global scientific publications and has revolutionized the feed supplement market in South Africa and other parts of the world and also led to significant improvements in production and fertility rates of pasture-based beef cattle where his principles have been applied and commercially implemented.
Dr Köster still contributes to academic education of Animal Scientists by acting as co-supervisor for various M.Sc. and Ph.D. students at most of the major Animal Science faculties as well as the Faculty of Veterinary Science at Onderstepoort, and has, and further acts as external examiner for pre-and post-graduate students at the Universities of Pretoria, Free State and Stellenbosch. In 2008 he has also been appointed as an adjunct faculty Professor at Kansas State University, USA, a position he still holds. In 2014 he became Chairman of the Alumni Board of the University of Pretoria until 2019, when he was elected as President of the Convocation and also serves on the Institutional Forum of UP. More recently (2021) he also became a member of the UP University Council.
Dr Köster is in high demand by agricultural magazines and international websites to write popular press and semi scientific articles as well as a speaker, and continuously addresses farmer’s and information days, symposia and conferences across the globe on a multitude of topics to share his wealth of knowledge and his passion to add value to various sectors of the agricultural society. He has more than 40 international and national scientific papers and abstracts and has published in excess of 600 popular scientific and popular press articles. He further has presented more than 25 papers at international conferences and symposia and addressed over 600 commercial farmers’ and information days in various parts of the world.
Dr Köster further is a member of the American Society of Animal Science, South African Society of Animal Science where he served on Council until 2012, and South African Council for Natural Scientific Professions. He further has been, and remains actively involved in numerous academic and industry scientific research projects in countries such as South Africa, the Netherlands, United Kingdom, USA, Kenya and Australia. He also acts as reviewer for a number of publications including American Journal for Animal Science and SA Journal for Animal Science and has further reviewed international and national research projects.
The beginning of his career
After starting his industry career in 1997 as Chief Nutritionist of Kynoch for 2 years he became Technical Director of Afgri Animal Feeds, a position he held for 7 years. Dr Köster then became the Managing Director of Scinetic, the Centre for Excellence within Afgri Operations (Pty) Ltd. where he was responsible for R&D activities and a number of innovation and international business development programs within the company. In January 2009, he decided to exit the corporate environment to focus more independently on adding value to the South African as well as global animal feed, health and production chain. He joined Animate Animal Health (Pty) Limited as a partner and Director responsible for all technical matters, a company that focuses on value-added animal health and nutritional micro ingredient products and strategies for all species. In May 2012, after being offered the CEO position of one of South Africa’s largest Agricultural companies, Kanhym, he decided to accept the challenge and once again devoted his professional time within the corporate environment.
He functioned in this capacity until September 2013 when he decided to revert back to consulting and numerous private business opportunities, specifically aimed at Agriculture and the Animal feed production chain. Currently he is a shareholder and Executive Director of the Kaonne Investments group, a holding company with 5 subsidiary companies, that focuses in adding value through services and products, especially across Africa, Middle East and Asia, within the entire animal feed value chain. Over the last 5 years he has also assisted global companies and organizations, international funds and governments as an expert consultant across Africa and Asia.
Dr Köster has further made noteworthy contributions to the animal feeds industry and to the animal science profession. He played a major role since 1998 at the SA Animal Feed Manufacturers Association (AFMA) and acted in various capacities for more than 20 years on the Board of Directors, Technical and Liaison Committee and Congress and Editorial Committees. In 2005, he was elected chairman of the AFMA board of directors, a position he held until 2007, and also served as chairman on all the different AFMA committees since 2000. During his term at AFMA he was instrumental in initiating and contributing to the drafting of various Codes of Practice, Industry standards and a Code of Conduct for the Animal Feed industry. Furthermore, he also serves as Chairman of the SA Senior Golf Tour (SAST) since 2017, and successfully affiliated the SAST into the Sunshine Tour.
Dr Köster and the Hereford breed
Since 1996 he serves as director of the SA Hereford Breeders’ Society and currently is the President of the SA Hereford Association, and still acts as chairman of the World Hereford Conference Committee. He further is a senior judge of various cattle breeds and interbreed beef cattle judge, and officially represented South Africa at World Hereford Conferences in Argentina (2000), Australia (2004), Denmark (2008), Canada (2012), Uruguay (2016), and in New Zealand (2020). In 2020 he also was elected onto the World Hereford Organization’s Executive Committee. He also co-owned a large egg production operation as well as two stud herds of Döhne Merino and Dorper sheep, and still co-owns two internationally known Hereford cattle studs, Vicedale and Vicemong Herefords (USA).
Dr Köster’s awards
In 1999, Dr Köster was awarded the Afgri (then OTK) Technical person of the Year award and received the prestigious Barney van Niekerk/AFMA Technical Person of the Year award in 2001 for his numerous contributions in the field of Animal Nutrition in South Africa. In July 2007 he was further honoured with the Silver Medal by the South African Society of Animal Science in acknowledgement of his exceptional contributions and involvement that significantly influenced and directed the development and improvement of production in the livestock industry.
In his capacity as Chairman of AFMA, he also received the President’s Award at the same event from the South African Society of Animal Science in acknowledgement for AFMA’s exceptional contribution delivered to Animal Science and the Livestock Industry. In September 2008, he received the prestigious Agriculturist of the Year Award for Gauteng, South Africa. More recently (2011) he was also part of the Arthrosis R&D team being nominated for the prestigious NSTF (National Science and Technology Forum) – BHP Billiton award as finalist in the category “Research for Innovation by an Individual or a Team through an Organisation/Institution”.
The history of the Hereford breed
The Hereford breed was introduced into South Africa between 1892 and 1901 with the importation by George Moorcroft of the bull, Southern Cross. George Moorcroft, James Gray, Abe Bailey and GC Young in some recordings were referred to as the fathers of the SA Hereford population. In 1903 the former Transvaal Government imported 27 Hereford cows and four bulls, including the prominent bull British Gold that was kept at the Potchefstroom College of Agriculture.
SA Stud Book Volume 1 that was published in 1906 contained the first Herefords recorded with SA Stud Book under the heading: “Pure Bred Herefords”. They were recorded in the name of James Gray, Esq., Waverley, Ceres Road, Cape Colony. Also recorded in Volume 1 is a herd in the Transvaal in the name of C. Woods from Johannesburg. The South African Hereford Breeders’ Society was established in 1917, three years prior to the “Registration of Pedigree Livestock Act No 22”, which became effective in 1920.
Herefords have been walking the way of breeding pure bred animals from the beginning of the new developing phase of the livestock industry. It is therefore not surprising that the Hereford and its breeders left its stamp on various terrains in the livestock industry, especially regarding the stud breeding sector. Many Hereford breeders are acknowledged for their stockmanship and leading positions in various sectors in the industry such as the Executive Committee of SA Stud Book, the Beef Production recording, Recording Advisory Forum, Organised Agriculture and research projects.
Hereford cattle have also been included in a number of research programs in South Africa. During the fifties, 560 Hereford cows were kept at the Mara Agricultural research station and over a period of almost 15 years the herd was subjected to strict selection for smooth coat, thick hides and pigmentation of udders and around the eyes that resulted in a Hereford herd more suited and adapted to a sub-tropical environment. It was during this time that the Hereford was used in a cross-breeding program with Milk Shorthorn by renowned Animal Scientists, such as the late Prof. Jan Bonsma, to develop the South African Bonsmara, today the largest beef breed in South Africa.
The Hereford was included for their fertility, constitution and superior grazing abilities. Besides the contribution to the SA Bonsmara, Hereford cattle have also been included in a number of other South African research studies over the past century on various traits important to the entire beef cattle industry. Owing to dedicated Hereford stud breeders and an efficient Breeders’ Society, the breed improved through the years to a current highly fertile, well adapted beef breed in South Africa. Today, Herefords are widely used in the commercial red meat industry for crossbreeding purposes, mainly due to its good growthability, fertility and meat quality.
Hereford breeders have always been strong competitors at Livestock shows all over the country. Apart from competing well against one another in the show ring, resulting in maintaining and improving the Hereford’s phenotypic traits, breed standards and functional efficiency, the Hereford always also competed well in interbreed classes. Reassuring is however the fact that, as breeding goals became more demanding lately due to the fact that the emphasis on visual appraisal had to provide for the proven importance of measured traits for genetic production improvement, Hereford breeders once again were able to re-direct their selection norms and standards to accommodate these objective selection norms. This resulted in meaningful genetic improvement of the production ability of Herefords under extensive conditions.
South African Hereford breeders have been participating in performance recording since 1959, resulting in substantial data for the genetic evaluations and availability of Estimated Breeding Values (EBV’s) since the 1990’s. Through meticulous recording, selection and mating practices by SA Hereford breeders, the breed has been developed to play an important role in breeding beef cattle in South Africa. Local breeders also make use of the opportunities to tap into a vast pool of international breeding bulls due to the wide global distribution of the breed.
SA Hereford breeders are further using DNA based parentage for accurate pedigree information required for high accuracy in available EBV’s. The SA Hereford has also recently engaged in genomics, with the aim to establish reference populations for the SA Hereford breed. Based on the size of the population and other important scientific factors, these genotypes have now formed the core for the implementation of the first genomic breeding values (GBLUP) services for the SA Hereford Society and its members. The SA Hereford’s first genomic evaluation has been released in June 2022, which makes the SA Hereford breed only the 5th beef breed in SA that already allows its breeders to use GBLUP values.
Dr Köster’s stud
The Vicedale Hereford stud was already founded in 1948 in the Vryburg (North-West) area by the Hereford Ranching Corporation, headed by Messrs Monty Ross (Chairman Epol Group) and Harry Jaffee (Chairman and owner of Premier Milling). At a dispersal sale in 1952, Jaros Investment Co (Pty) Ltd became the new owners. In 1953, Dr Köster’s father, Hans Köster joined the company as General Manager.
In 1957, the company was sold to Messrs Bokkie Niselow and Morris Hyman and changed its name to Jarrosson Estates (Pty) Ltd. Dr Köster’s father was appointed Managing Director and was responsible for the growth and development of the stud cattle division, which originally consisted of 25 Hereford cows and a commercial herd. In 1959, Vicedale Herefords also became the first SA Hereford herd and part of 5 SA beef breeds to start official performance testing by the department of Agricultural in Irene. The herd over time developed into a world-renowned herd, which at the time of its dispersal sale in 1978 was the largest Hereford herd in the world and one of the largest of all breeds, with more than 2000 registered cows.
In 1978, after the death of Mr Niselow, the entire farming operation was sold; amongst it the Vicedale Hereford herd of more than 2 000 stud cows. Dr Köster’s parents, Hans and Heide Köster who became legends of the breed, were fortunate to purchase 50 of the best Vicedale Hereford cows (specially selected by Dr Köster’s father before the sale) at the time of the Jarrosson Estates dispersal sale. They began farming with these animals and a commercial herd on Grassybend near Vryburg until they retired in 2005.
“After the retirement of my parents, I, and my brother, Heiko, joined by Heiko’s wife, Prof Esté van Marle-Köster, selected a nucleus herd of 30 breeding cows from the more than 300 cows owned by my parents in Vryburg at the time and moved them in 2005 to Cullinan in the Gauteng area where they currently sill reside. Given the way I grew up as a farmer’s boy amongst 2000 registered Hereford cows and all the Hereford activities I was exposed to during my years in Vryburg and thereafter, it is obvious that I became in love with the breed and has become an integral part of my professional career,” dr Köster says.
Key features of the Hereford breed:
Being the second largest breed in numbers in the world and still a 100% pure breed, Hereford cattle, since the late 1700’s, and over more than 100 years in South Africa, always have been a major contributor to the world’s beef production. Hereford cattle are primarily a beef cattle breed and therefore have all the traits required for maximum and efficient beef production. However, the females are also very fertile, docile, good for milk production and produce enough milk to raise heavy, healthy calves.
There are seven major points that the Hereford breed is strictly focussing on in their breeding policy:
The success on-farm of a profitable breeding program is determined by the fertility of the cow herd. Bulls, cows and heifers all need to be fertile, and as indicated earlier, official statistics show the adaptability of the Hereford breed and fertility of the cows are second to none.
2. EASY CALVING
Heifers calve easy when sired by Hereford bulls. Therefore, the use of Hereford sires on dairy females are also very popular in dairy operations.
3. HYBRID VIGOUR
Hereford and Hereford crosses are sought after in feedlots because of their growth and efficient feed conversion ability, meat quality, as well as docile temperament.
4. MEAT QUALITY
Consumers are more aware of consuming and demanding quality meat, and Herefords will certainly ensure the supply of premium juicy and flavorful beef with sufficient marbling through effective cross-breeding programs.
5. FINISHING OFF THE VELDT
Besides thriving under feedlot conditions, the Hereford is often also referred to as “The Breed that made grass famous”. Hereford cross calves can thus be finished with great success from the veldt.
Herefords are adapted to perform under severe climatic and a wide range of environmental conditions.
The Hereford’s temperament is more docile thus allowing easier handling than other cattle breeds. This important trait is carried over to their progeny and results in better quality beef (less stress), better feed conversion, less injuries and easier management in feedlots.
Dr Köster and the breed’s vision:
- To remain focused, stay relevant, be flexible, react fast, and stay aligned with and adapt to ever changing consumer preferences, as well as economic, marketing, environmental and management conditions.
- To maintain an effective marketing program that will ensure that SA Hereford cattle remain a popular choice of breed within crossbreeding systems and thrive under both feedlot and grazing conditions.
- To maintain high quality standards within the breed.
- To continue to promote a scientific approach and implement the latest technologies as they become available.
- To continue improving on the already established genomic breeding values (GBLUP) and reference population of the SA Hereford and further promote the use of GBLUP values within the breed.
- To keep encouraging the interest of current breeders and maintain a high level of participation by everyone involved in the breed.
- To grow interest in the breed and attract new breeders.
What does the Society want to do to promote the breed in the next two years:
- Extensive exposure of the breed on effective social media platforms
- Country wide Hereford symposiums covering relevant topics that will include invites to commercial farmers
- Hereford exhibitions at key Agricultural events
How to get more commercial farmers to be a part of the breed:
- By joining Hereford social media sites
- Involvement at various platforms such as symposiums
- Engaging with commercial farmers at agricultural events
- Offering favourable membership to join the Society at a minimal fee
Contact Liezel Grobler for more information about the breed at email@example.com or 082-922-4616.