Shohil Maher’s attendance of the 2012 National Agriculture show turned to be a turning point for him as he was love struck by the Ile de France sheep on exhibition at that time. At that time Shohil was clueless about the breed and was seeing it for the first time. He however, could not hold and resist the animals as he immediately bought a ram and 2 females. This is despite the fact that at that time he knew absolutely nothing about the breed and that he did not attend the show with a plan to buy anything. It is also noteworthy that at that time he was not prepared at all meaning that he did not even have a kraal for the animals.
According to Shohil, the main attribute that attracted him to the breed was its body structure. He liked the height the animals carried adding that Ile de France’s growth is exceptional. Shohil said that he loves meat and as a reason the breed presented itself as a perfect animal that falls well to his liking. Shohil’s dedication and commitment saw him being able to conquer all the obstacles that threatened the survival of his project. He had to learn almost everything the hard way through his experiences or mistakes and it is not surprising that at point he wanted to finally throw in the towel, but thanks to his life partner who did not allow him, ultimately saving him from what would have been one of the biggest mistakes in his life.
Shohil’s dedication and commitment has started to pay off as he is currently standing at over 100 animals with about 60 of them being pure. In 2016 he started to be part of Agriculture shows with the first one being the Goodhope show in which he managed to get a Senior ram (4 tooth) Champion. This year he made his debut at the Southern District Agric show and the National Agriculture show. He said that in each of the shows he has attended he learns something new. Shohil said that he initially did not have knowledge of what he has to take into consideration when preparing an animal for a show.
In sharing his management plan, Shohil that he spends most of his time with his animals as this helps to quickly notice any deformity or illness on his animals which in turn enables him to take necessary steps in dealing with the issue at hand. Female animals are allowed to graze while rams are supplementary fed. Defending his decision to do this, he said that rams play a critical role in ensuring the success of his project. This is also done to restrict his rams from serving other farmers’ animals. Lambs are weaned after 100 days (about 3 months and 1 week). Proper and thorough records are kept and sheep are sheared with a normal scissor but done with a machine when preparing them for a show.
Meanwhile, Shohil said that one of the benefits of farming Ile de Farming is that the ram is good in crossbreeding, a trait that has won it the honour of being referred to as the King of crossbreeding. For his part, he said that in order to improve the quality of the Tswana sheep he crosses it with Ile de France adding that he also decided to cross it with Tswana because of its (Tswana) hardiness. According to Shohil other benefits include good mothering abilities, meat, and less fat.
Shohil is not only into farming Ile de France but also keeps Boer goats and is also a horticulture farmer with his main product being beetroot and cabbage. He also does bee farming. Shohil’s farm which he operates with his brother Waheed Maher is based in Lobatse and runs under the name Geluk Farm. FMB