53nd Annual 



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Changing paradigms in livestock production - Confronting a new reality
26 - 28 September 2022, Ascot Conference Venue, Pietermaritzburg




John was appointed Chief Science Adviser to New Zealand’s Ministry for Primary Industries in June 2018 to provide independent and strategic science advice to the Director-General and to provide leadership in the wider ministry science areas. He leads the organisation’s Science Forum, which works to promote MPI’s scientific expertise. John also Chairs the independent Mycoplasma bovis Strategic Science Advisory Group, set up to help accelerate eradication, and the Kauri Dieback Strategic Science Advisory Group, which focuses on the science needed to protect New Zealand’s iconic Kauri tree. He is also an Adjunct Professor in University of Auckland’s, School of Biological Sciences.
John has an Honours degree in Agricultural Science, a Masters in Farm Systems and Pasture Management, and a PhD in Animal Nutrition. He was previously DairyNZ’s Principal Scientist for Animal Science. He’s also held science appointments with the National Centre for Dairy Production Research in Ireland, the Department of Primary Industries in Australia, and the University of Tasmania. He is also Managing Director of Down to Earth Advice Ltd.
His research specialties include the role of nutrition in health, reproduction, and production, and he has led programmes in genotype x environment interactions, mineral nutrition, intake regulation, and body condition score. He has published more than 160 peer-reviewed science journal articles and book chapters and is a regular contributor at both science and farming conferences across the world.


Johan Zietsman

Johann Zietsman studied at the University of Pretoria under Professor Jan Bonsma, and graduated with a BSc Agric in Animal Science in the early 1970s. He then he started farming in Zimbabwe. His knowledge combines almost 30 years of extensive research and personal experience as a hands-on cattleman. He is currently based in Chinhoyi in Zimbabwe where he runs his consultancy. He regularly travels to South Africa, other parts of Africa and the world to help cattle farmers – or “ranchers” – achieve optimal veld management and cattle production and achieve maximum, sustainable profit per hectare. Johann now farms in Zambia and for thelast 10 years have been spent consulting in the USA and Latin America (mainly Mexico, Colombia and Ecuador).
Johann recently published his book ‘Man, Cattle and Veld’. It’s a practical and possibly controversial narrative that inspires cattle farmers to critically access conventional practices, be innovative and increase production by 50%. He believes that institutions and research centres need to be transformed into innovative, model ranches for 21st century, that focus on developing and testing sustainable methods of cattle production and veld restoration.
Johann has the highest regard for deep-thinking, innovative cattle and veld pioneers across a range of approaches, such as Bonsma, the United States’ Beefmaster pioneer, Tom Lasater, South Africa’s father of veld, John Acocks, and holistic management practitioners Stan Parsons and Alan Savory. Johann was greatly influence by Bonsma’s thinking – and considers him and Lasater to be “the greatest cattlemen of our time”.
In Johann’s view, successful cattle farming is all about keeping your eyes open, being observant of your own cattle, your own veld and your own wallet to see what works for you. There are so many perceptions dressed up as facts that mislead farmers and block common sense from prevailing. The problem with common sense is that it is not so common.

Jackie Tucker

MSc Animal Science, Nutrition Science, University of Pretoria
Eleven years’ experience working in trace-mineral nutrition as well as seven years in dairy cow lameness.

Focus is on technical support to customers and producers on optimised trace mineral supplementation and solution based strategies that add value to the dairy and beef industry

Current interest is to determine what the South African situation is in terms of lameness in dairy cattle; including the cost, occurrence, contributing factors and implementation of effective lameness reduction plans

Jackie was Chairlady of SASAS northern branch; Vice Chairperson of AFMA Technical committee as well as the founding member of LASSA. 

She is passionate about animal science student mentorship, education as well as gender diversity excellence.


Changing Paradigms in Livestock Production – Confronting a New Reality



  • Prof.

    Mahlako Makgahlela

    Agricultural Research Centre, senior researcher: animal production
    Prof. Linky Makgahlela obtained her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Limpopo and holds a PhD in animal breeding and genetics from the University of Helsinki in Finland...

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    Edward Webb

    University of Pretoria, professor: production animal physiology, meat science, livestock ecology
    Prof. Edward Webb is a Professor of production animal physiology, functional anatomy, and meat science in the Department of Animal Science at the University of Pretoria, having previously served as deputy dean in the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences and as head of the Department of Animal Science in the same faculty

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    Francois van de Vyver

    Voermol, national technical manager

    Dr Francois van de Vyver is currently the national technical manager at Voermol Feeds. He has been involved in the animal feed industry for the past decade as ruminant nutritionist, prior to which he was employed by the University of Stellenbosch as a lecturer in animal nutrition in the Department of Animal Sciences. 

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  • DR

    Heinz Meissner

    Milk SA, research and development manager
    Before retirement, Dr Heinz Meissner was associated with the University of Pretoria as a Professor in animal nutrition and later as director of the ARC’s Animal Nutrition and Products Institute at Irene, where he managed the interface between animal production, product development and consumer science.

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    He is also an Extraordinary Professor at the Onderstepoort Faculty of Veterinary Science. Since retirement, he is consulting for Agri SA, the red meat industry and primarily also the dairy industry where he manages the R & D initiative of Milk SA. Apart from animal nutrition and management, he has vast experience in environmental issues and represents South Africa on the Scientific Committee for the Environment of the International Dairy Federation. One of his contributions in this regard is the argument that more emphasis should be put on carbon sequestration to limit the agricultural carbon footprint. Dr Meissner has published more than 200 scientific publications and has received a number of recognitions, among others the Gold Medal from the South African Society for Animal Science, the Agricultural Writers Association’s award for Agricultural Scientist of the Year, and the Person of the Year Award from the Animal Feed Manufacturers Association.


    Trevor Dugmore

    SASAS vice-president, SAJAS sub-editor
    Before serving as the vice-President of the South African Society for Animal Science (SASAS) and subeditor of the South African Journal of Animal Science, Dr Trevor Dugmore was the scientific manager for animal science research in the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, specialising in dairy and ruminant nutrition.

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    He has served as a member of the Milk SA Research & Development Advisory Committee, a reviewer for the National Research Foundation (NRF), and is a trustee/board member of the Mdukatshani Rural Development Trust in KwaZulu-Natal. He is also an external examiner for numerous postgraduate theses at the University of KZN, Stellenbosch University, University of the Free State, and University of Pretoria. Dr Dugmore has spoken at over 150 farmers’ days throughout Southern Africa, presented 19 scientific papers at scientific congresses and 15 at symposia, authored and co-authored 17 peer-reviewed papers in scientific journals, eight in scientific proceedings, and 26 popular papers.


    Michael MacNeil

    Delta G: breeding and genetics specialist and editor of SAJAS
    Dr Michael MacNeil received his bachelor’s degree in agriculture from Cornell University, master’s degree in animal science from Montana State University, and PhD in animal breeding and genetics from South Dakota State University in the United States (US).

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    During his career he worked at the US Meat Animal Research Center as a statistician and research animal scientist in the production systems unit, and the Fort Keogh Livestock and Range Research Laboratory, where he served as research geneticist and led the Line 1 Hereford breeding programme. After retiring from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service in December 2011, he founded Delta G to continue working in quantitative genetics, statistics, and systems analysis with breed associations, private industry, and government research organisations, both domestically and internationally. He is the author or co-author of more than 175 articles appearing in refereed scientific literature and this work has been cited more than 4 200 times. Dr MacNeil has been awarded the Continuing Service and Pioneer Awards by the Beef Improvement Federation and the Rockefeller-Prentice Animal Breeding Award by the American Society of Animal Science (ASAS). He was named a Distinguished Alumnus of South Dakota State University for his outstanding professional achievements in 2010 and an honorary member of the South African Society for Animal Science (SASAS) in 2012. In 2017, he was named a Research Fellow of the ASAS.
  • DR

    Japie van der westhuizen

    SA Stud Book, general manager
    After completing his BSc(Agric) degree in animal production and honours degree in animals breeding at the University of Pretoria, Dr Japie van der Westhuizen went on to earn both master's and doctoral degrees in animal breeding and genetics from the Free State University.

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    He established the group that initiated national genetic (BLUP) evaluations for farm animals in South Africa at the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) in 1995. After joining SA Stud Book in 2011, he established units for research and development, genetic merit prediction, and technical advisory services. He is a member of Interbeef's steering committee, which is responsible for international genetic evaluation of beef cattle, a past member of the International Committee for Animal Recording (ICAR) Lactation Working Group, a past chair of ICAR's Beef Recording Working Group, and is an active member of the ICAR Expert Advisory Group responsible for the Certificate of Quality assessments globally, as well as recently completing a second term as an ICAR board member. Dr van der Westhuizen was invited by the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) to assist in the drafting of global guidelines for animal recording. He is an author or co-author of 23 scientific papers, 53 national and international congress contributions, 16 scientific reports, several semi-scientific and popular articles, six book chapters, and has served as session chair at four international conferences. He has supervised several postgraduate students in animal breeding and genetics, and he is currently an extraordinary lecturer at the University of Pretoria in animal breeding, and honorary Professor at the Central University of Technology. The South African Society for Animal Science (SASAS) awarded Japie with a Silver Medal in 2006 for his contribution towards the science of genetic improvement of livestock in South Africa.


    Thato Moagi-Mugonda

    Agricultural scientist, agripreneur, Nuffield scholar, policy advisor, farming advocate, app developer
    Thato Moagi-Mugonda is an agriprereneur who is passionate about indigenous crops and livestock, and first South African to be nominated as a Nuffield International Farming Scholar.

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    The aim of her research was to highlight key aspects that will enable the unlocking of value within the developing economy context highlighting economic and social issues around the adoption and supportive legislature that will enable the maximum productivity at farm level. She is currently a managing director for Legae La Banareng Farms in Limpopo which focuses on the breeding and production of indigenous cattle, sheep, and goats. She has also ventured into indigenous crop development and research in the Western Cape where she operates Black Sheep Agribusiness with the aim to commercialise indigenous crops. Thato has served in various leadership positions and is an advocate for social development in the agrifood sector and advises the Presidency and African Farmers Association South Africa.


    Liza Bohlmann

    Chairperson of the Agricultural Writers SA
    Liza Bohlmann is currently the national and regional (North) chairperson of the Agricultural Writers SA – an association of journalists and media practitioners specialising in the agricultural media and communications industry

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    She is also the communications business partner for Bayer Crop Science, responsible for media liaison, driving the communications strategy, and providing industry-related communications insights to the Crop Science division. Prior to her role in corporate communications, Liza worked at Landbouweekblad, South Africa’s largest magazine for the agricultural industry, where she held the position of Assistant Editor: Commercial. She has a national diploma in journalism from Tshwane University of Technology and also worked as a reporter in the local and regional press. She has been a qualified journalist since 1999 and has 14 years of experience in the agricultural media sphere. Since specialising in agricultural journalism, she has developed a passion for telling the stories of farmers and the ag industry. One of her aims is to help farmers to better understand the often complex concepts behind new products, research, and technology through easy-to-understand communication.
  • DR

    Ayanda Maqhashu

    University of Pretoria, lecturer: animal reproduction physiology
    Dr Ayanda Maqhashu is an animal physiology lecturer in the Department of Animal Sciences at the University of Pretoria (UP). She obtained her bachelor’s degree in livestock and pasture sciences cum laude from the University of Fort Hare, following it up with a master’s degree in animal sciences two years later from the same university.

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    Dr Maqhashu went on to earn her PhD in animal sciences from the University of the Free State. She worked at the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) as a junior researcher in the section for Germplasm Conservation and Reproduction Biotechnologies before joining UP. Her research is focused on reproduction physiology of both male and female livestock species and application of assisted reproductive biotechnologies such as artificial insemination, oestrous synchronisation, semen and embryo cryopreservation, and in vitro embryo production. She has published 10 peer-reviewed scientific papers, presented 28 papers at conferences or symposia. She is also a registered professional animal scientist with the South African Council for Natural Scientific Professions (SACNASP).



    Evonik Animal Nutrition

    Chantelle Fryer is an animal scientist with a BSc(Agric) degree in animal science and animal physiology from Stellenbosch University. Chantelle started her career in the feed industry in 2003 and has worked for various additive and nutrition companies. 

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    She currently works for Evonik Animal Nutrition, a global leader in amino acid supply and nutrition research. She has a special interest in sustainable animal production and is the lead for Evonik’s sustainability projects in the region. Chantelle specialises in poultry nutrition and works with various key stakeholders in Southern Africa to develop new products and nutrition concepts. She also plays an active role within the Animal Feed Manufacturers Association (AFMA) as the vice chair of the technical committee and regularly addresses students on the topic of sustainability and the continued relevance of animal science in solving global food demands.



    Freelance Animal Scientist
    Dr Pieter Henning has been involved in the South African livestock industry since 1980, when he started out as a young researcher with the Animal and Dairy Science Research Institute, Irene. He obtained a PhD in Animal Nutrition from the University of Pretoria in 1990 and continued to work as a research scientist in ruminant nutrition at the Agricultural Research Council. 

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    From 2001, he was the research and development manager at KK Animal Nutrition and MS Biotech, before becoming technical executive - ruminants at Meadow Feeds in 2011. In March 2020 he retired and now works as a freelance animal scientist who specialises in the research and development process. Dr Henning is passionate about the art of scientific investigation and the craft of technical writing. He can be contacted at


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