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"Experientia docet" - Experience is the best teacher

It has been an eventful year for SASAS, especially as our lives start normalising after the pandemic.

SASAS Congress : 26 to 28 September 2022

The congress was a great success attended by 197 in-person delegates and 38 online delegates. It appears our members have voted with their feet as to what they want from a congress.  A special thanks goes to Vetlink, our congress event organisers for assisting us to make this a successful event.

Our Hon President, Prof. Edward Nesamvuni set the tone for the event, capturing the essence of the congress theme, viz “Changing Paradigms in livestock production – confronting a new reality”, in his opening address, as mentioned by many delegates, a thread which was carried throughout by all the invited speakers. Gavin Whitelaw of the KwaZulu-Natal Museum presented a very interesting talk on the Early farmers in KwaZulu-Natal: the archaeological evidence.  Feedback from many delegates was that this was interesting and pertinent to us as animal scientists in understanding the present against a picture of Early Iron Age lifeways (migrations) on the development of livestock production in South Africa.

Herewith some highlights from our international speakers:   John Roche from New Zealand outlined the future challenges facing animal scientists and livestock production in an excellent presentation.  He highlighted that in addition to the biological and economic challenges to sustainable food production, social challenges have recently come to the fore. The ubiquity of social media has led to mis- and/or disinformation circulating widely on the contribution that different foods make to environmental sustainability challenges and human wellness; this and humanity’s tendency towards confirmation bias and ‘banding’ with like-minded individuals have established a greater divide between science and society and between farmers and those consuming food. However, with challenges, come opportunities, and as a science society, we need to embrace these opportunities to ensure sufficient high quality nutritious food is enjoyed by all in a sustainable future.

Dr Mike MacNeil’s presentation revisited the matching of livestock with their environment in an era of new challenges, examining environmental changes that are likely to affect livestock production going forward, suggesting research agendas that could accelerate addressing new environmental conditions, and to put forth suggestions about how South African farmers might go about better using the available genetic resources.

Johann Zietsman’s much anticipated presentation was very forthright with some valid challenges to our breeding fraternity on the evaluation of genetic merit for cattle grazing poor quality veld where nutrition is limited. He believes we need to breed cattle that can survive the bad times and bounce back quickly in good times to remain fertile and productive, measured by unit production per ha rather than unit production per animal.

Our local invited speakers, Prof Norman Maiwashe, Dr Florence Nherera-Chokuda, Prof Neil Duncan, Dr Sikhumbuzo Mbizeni, Dr Jean Rust, Dewald Olivier and Jackie Tucker all delivered excellent talks.

SASAS Awards

Four awards were made to SASAS members at the congress gala dinner. The David Uys trophy for the best paper by a SASAS member for 2021 in SAJAS (Vol. 51) went to Webb et al. for a paper entitled “Effects of stocking density on growth and skin quality of grower Nile crocodiles (Crocodylus nilotilicus).  The bronze medal was awarded to Nelius Nel for his PhD studies on the genetic responses and genomic characterisation in South African and Australian sheep.  The gold medal was awarded posthumously to Dr Michael Bradfield for his contribution on animal breeding in Southern Africa.  The award was received on behalf of the Bradfield family by Llewellyn Angus and Linky Makgahlela.  The President’s award went to Dr Michael MacNeil, for his dedication and contribution to the journal, as editor of SAJAS, maintaining and accelerating the upward momentum and trajectory of the journal.

As usual, a highlight of the congress was the finals of the student quiz with Tukkies taking the honours.  Plaas Media is sincerely thanked for their involvement and contribution to the success of the quiz.  A new innovation this year was the student debate which proved to be a highlight of the congress, with Maties just pipping UniZulu to the post by the narrowest of margins. We foresee this as an annual event at congress in the future. Fabian Fon, who proposed the quiz, is to be congratulated on a very successful inaugural student debate. UKZN are thanked for sponsoring the debate.

The KZN branch organising committee, namely; Sibongiseni Gcumisa (Chairman) Nomfuzo Mkhize, Heleen Els, Zikhona  Rani, Fabian Fon,  Nonhlanhla Sibisi,  Donna Berjak (Sec) and Trevor Dugmore are to be congratulated for a well organised congress and Vetlink, our events manager are thanked for their diligence in doing all the hard work behind the scenes. To Karen Yardley, a committee member who succumbed to cancer 2 weeks before the conference, RIP.


The following members were elected (unopposed) onto council for 2022 to 2024: Dr Linde du Toit, Sarah Roberts, Jackie Tucker and Dr Pranisha Soma.

The web report highlighted the growth of the society with SASAS currently having 386 members, 278 full members (which could increase by about 40 if members who are reregistered as part a group invoice renewed their membership on the SASAS website) and 108 student members, up from 204 full and 93 student members in 2019.

All Africa Conference on Animal Agriculture

The 8th edition of the AACAA is to be held from 26 to 28 September 2023in Gaborone, Botswana, with the Botswana Society of Animal Sciences and Livestock Production as hosts.  SASAS was invited to co-host this event and consequently there will be no SASAS Congress in 2023, with the 2024 congress to be hosted by the Eastern Cape.  Members are requested to support the conference in Botswana and consider it an opportunity to meet our African colleagues and a potential entry point into Africa.

The International Society of Animal Genetics Conference is to be held in Cape Town from 2 to 7 July 2023. This is an opportunity for local scientists to attend an international conference in our own backyard.

Animal Frontiers

SASAS has been invited to publish a guest society issue of the journal, Animal Frontiers, in 2023. Prof Norman Casey has been appointed the editor of the issue by SASAS.


Dr Marion Young took over the reins as editor in chief as of July, with 2 issues placed on the SAJAS page since then.

Ms Martina van Heerden resigned as the Layout editor for SAJAS in March. Ms Elizabeth Stewart resigned as copy editor at the end of November.  Both are sincerely thanked for their 10 years plus of unstinting service to the journal.  Both Martina and Elizabeth commenced their tasks as a lot of innovations in IT and in online publishing were adopted by SAJAS and helped see us through this process. Both served under Prof Jannes Jansen Van Ryssen, the late Dr Voster Muchenje and Dr Mike MacNeil.  So ends an era for SAJAS and we look forward to more innovations.

Membership Renewal

SASAS members are requested to renew their membership for 2023 on the SASAS website. The membership fees for 2023 remain unchanged, a consequence of an increased membership which helps to spread the costs over more members.

Communication within the Society

There have been complaints that SASAS news and notices sent via the MailChimp from the website providers are not reaching members.  After an investigation, it appears that the main reason is not the service provider, but the spam filters and firewall on the receiving site.  Please liaise with your IT section to resolve this issue.  If the message arrive in your junk mail boxes, mark them as “not junk mail” or “never block sender”.  A survey of the councillors at the council meeting showed only one recipient out of the 10 present had a problem. However, we take our communication with members seriously and are looking at alternative backup systems of getting the message out.

Season’s Greetings

The festive season is in our midst. We wish you and your family a happy holiday and hope that we will use the recess to recuperate and get ready for the year ahead.

A special thank you to all the council members, the secretariat, editors, sub-editors, reviewers, congress committee and other members who contributed to SASAS over the past year.

Wishing all our members a blessed Christmas break and a Happy New Year

Trevor Dugmore

President: SASAS

14 December 2022


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