In 2000 Kruger brought his first black impala ram. Today he is very proud of the large number of quality black impalas that he has on his farm, especially the excellent dark black colour as well as the exceptional horn lengths of the black rams. In 2016 the horn lengths of these black impala rams of 14/15 months old was between 16” and 18” (inches).
In 2001 Kruger bought his first golden wildebeest. They were initially kept in 50 to 80 hectare camps. Between 8 to 10 years ago he took all the ordinary blue wildebeest off the open farm, and placed all the golden wildebeest and the split golden wildebeest heifers and cows on the open farm. He regularly added bigger and better bulls on the open farm, as well as the split female wildebeest that he bought to improve the genetics.
In 2015/2016 Kruger acquired a 29.25” golden bull and placed it on the open farm. At this stage there was a large variety of golden bulls to cover the cows. Every year he removed all the split bulls and transferred them to the hunting farm. Only the golden bulls with the best horns and colours stayed with the cows on the open farm. The rest of the golden bulls were also removed from the open farm to ensure that only the best bulls could cover the cows on the 1400 hectare open farm. During 2016 Kruger removed all the golden wildebeest from the open farm and relocated them to another farm. He removed 140 golden wildebeest and almost the same number of split golden wildebeest heifers and cows.
During this time he acquired a few exceptionally large horned young golden wildebeest bulls of 2 years of age from Henry Enslin (Visarendsvlei) to add new genetics to his existing herds.
Kruger bought his first kings wildebeest in 2003. That was the start of bigger things that would happen years later. The first king wildebeest that was bred in South Africa was bred by Kruger van Zyl. That kings wildebeest is a very well known bull “King” that measured 27”. In 2010 Kruger sold “King” and 4 of “King’s” sons. Two of the buyers on that day were Piet du Toit and Dies Visser. In 2011 there was an article on “King” in the Game & Hunt magazine, where Piet du Toit wrote about the “next best thing”. In February 2013 Piet du Toit held his first game auction on his farm in Lindley’s Poort, close to Rustenburg. Two items that stood out at the auction was the sale of the buffalo cow “Tanzanië” for R 20,000 000 and the sale of the kings bull “King” for R 5,100,000. “King” was bought by Wiekus and Ande Ras from Ashford Lodge (Pilanesberg Game Breeders). Piet du Toit’s King bull Brutus is one of the sons of “King” that he bought from Kruger van Zyl in 2010. Lukie Steenkamp from Bluechip Game Breeders is now the proud owner of “King”.
Kruger van Zyl kept 2 of “King’s” sons for himself. They are called “Kruger Snr” and “Kruger Jnr”. He realised years ago that the number of kings wildebeest will increase with time and that it was not sufficient to breed with only the 2 king wildebeest bulls. As with other species and variant it was important to him to acquire more and better breeding genetics to improve the quality of the breeding herds. He realised that when the numbers increased the bulls and cows with the smaller horns will be worth less than those with larger horns. This was how all the ordinary successful farmers became large and well known farmers. All the well known farmers/breeders that is known for quality game has more than 1 or 2 breeding bulls and breeding rams.
I have the privilege not just to know Kruger for a few years as a friend but also to market his game. For the period that I have known him he has brought every year new base cows with larger horns, as well as kings wildebeest bulls with good potential to improve the generics and quality of his herds. In 2012 he bred with 5 kings bulls, of which only 2 were bred by him. In 2016 he bred with 12 kings wildebeest breeding bulls of which only 3 bulls did not measure 27”. The kings breeding bulls that Kruger uses for breeding measures from 26” tot 29”. This is extraordinary when taken into account that the average horn length of king wildebeest breeding bulls is less than 24”.
Included in the 12 breeding bulls that Kruger bred with in 2016, is the 2 biggest king wildebeest bulls - which we know off. In 2017 Kruger van Zyl has 16 kings wildebeest breeding bulls that he currently are using in his breeding program.
I have had the privilege of working with many kings wildebeest from different farms in the last 6 years. There is no doubt in my mind that Kruger van Zyl’s herd produce the best quality kings wildebeest every year, and that the quality improves every year. With some of his herds you will find that almost every bull calf that is born, measures 27”. The bulls from those herds that do not measure 27” are usually just under 27”.
The quality of all the game from steenbok to buffalo is measure by the length of the horns – male and female. With game in abundance like buffalo, sable, golden wildebeest etc. it is the animals with the largest/longest horns that gets paid the record prices. With the terrible drought of 2015/2016 we see lower prices being paid in 2016. The lower prices has however not hindered that record prices were paid at auctions for exceptional horns. With king wildebeest it is not only the horn lengths that is in demand, but also colour quality. Although the appearance of spots on king wildebeest is not a pre-requisite of a king wildebeest (as determined by king wildebeest breeders in June 2013), the spots are pretty and big in demand. Because of this Kruger van Zyl has decided to combine large horns with large spots. I have heard people say that Kruger’s king wildebeest does not have large spots. I will now state this for the record: Kruger van Zyl has quite a few king wildebeest with large spots, in fact he has more wildebeest with large spots than any other farm in South Africa. However he has not sold as yet any of his large spot king wildebeest.
For the 2017 breeding season Kruger placed all the king wildebeest heifers that came from his large king bulls (including the 2 largest bulls in South Africa), with a large spot bull to be covered by him. In doing so he combines large spots with large horn genetics.
At this stage in South Africa there is still only a few king wildebeest. The demand has always been good which escalated prices. That is why the majority of king wildebeest is owned by well-off farmers of which the majority has only 1 or 2 breeding bulls. This meant that the prices had to come down a bit to be more cost effective for farmers that have a little bit less capital to invest. The drought and high feeding prices as well as an uncertain economy also contributed to lower prices for all game including king wildebeest.
Thankfully our heavenly Father blessed the biggest portion of the country with good rains the past rainy season. Large areas of the country has brought forward nutritious veldt for grazing which should bring down the cost and amount of feeding needed. This in turn should contribute to better prices this season.
You cannot go wrong by buying king wildebeest from Kruger van Zyl.
- Wynand Breytenbach
Other top quality bred game by Kruger van Zyl::
- Black kudu
- White kudu
- Saddleback impalas (Willem van der Merwe bloodline)
- White flanked impalas
- Black impalas
- Royal (white) wildebeest
- Golden king wildebeest
- White saddleback blesbuck (Donnie van Zyl bloodline)