Bullet-the-bull now vineyard dweller

Henry

Bullet, a magnificent two-year-old Nguni stud bull, has found a new home at the Vergelegen wine estate. Bullet will join the existing herd of 320 Nguni cattle there.

Bullet was bred on a small estate on Raithby, between Somerset West and Stellenbosch, and has distinctive black and white color patterns. He is described as a “valuable addition” to Vergelegen’s breeding herd, where the focus is on color and temperament.

Nguni cattle are particularly popular for their skin-colored hides, as well as being a hardy breed suitable for optimal meat production, even under tough African conditions. They are herbivores and snack when there is not enough pasture available. The breed requires little maintenance and also calves easily.

On Vergelegen, the herd is completely free range and the cattle graze on a mixture of kikuyu, clover and fynbos – and always under the watchful eye of Sivuyile Mthiya.

In 2001, the management decided to start keeping Ngunis at the 324-year-old wine estate and acquired some of the cattle from a stud in the Malmesbury district, as well as in the Eastern Cape. In 2010 the estate registered the Vergelegen Nguni Stud.

Vergelegen is home to six Nguni stud bulls: Bullet, Ox and Victor (named after rugby heroes Ox Nché and Victor Matfield), Brutus jr., as well as two unnamed bulls.

The herd is clearly thriving and 120 of the 180 cows are expected to calve between June and August.

Wayne Coetzer, managing director of Vergelegen and a man who grew up on a farm in KwaZulu-Natal (where he also learned to speak Zulu fluently), says they are particularly proud to be the stewards of the heritage herd.

“Nguni cattle have immense aesthetic, cultural and spiritual significance,” says Coetzer.

“I welcome Bullet with great expectations and the promise of horny pastures, cool and clear water and love. I wish him a future full of peace and comfort that is only made better by blissful bovine company.”