Our Venison

Since the first hunter-gatherer tribes were on this earth game was hunted and made up a large portion of their protein intake. With the invention of agriculture and livestock farming the protein source in the diet was substituted by beef, sheep, pork, goats and poultry.

We at Herdsmen strive to bring you products that are ethically and sustainably sourced. Nothing comes close to venison in this regard. All our venison is unconfined, organic, hormone and antibiotics free and is the most natural meat you can eat.

All the animals are hunted in the “walk and stalk” method allowing the animal a fair chance. All the game is hunted on a 40 000ha property in the Great Karoo by professional hunters who are also in charge of conservation in the area. Respect for the animal and the environment is of first priority. We enforce the following rule for our suppliers:

  • No animals can be hunted on farms smaller than 5000ha
  • No harvesting or night hunting allowed
  • Fair chase methods to be used on all hunts
  • Only hunting on foot shall be allowed, no shooting from vehicles.
Why should I eat Venison?

To you as the consumer, venison holds many health benefits as opposed to other meat sources.

  • Venison contains only a third of the fat found in beef
  • It has less calories than chicken
  • Richer in protein than any other other red meat. Protein is important muscle growth and repair, hormone production, brain function and sleep
  • Its rich in conjugated linoleic acid (which is thought to support a healthy hart)
  • It is rich in B Vitamins, which helps you convert the food you eat into energy and play a vital role in brain and nervous system function. It contains vitamin B12 and vitamin B6, it has been shown that they may assist in lowering the build up of homocysteine in the blood which can reduce the risk of strokes, heart attacks, and heart disease.
  • Venison is full of vitamin B2 (riboflavin) and B3 (niacin) which help regulate metabolism, keeping your energy levels high all day long.
  • The wild game meat also has high iron levels, contributing to steady energy levels. Iron is also very important for pregnant women.
  • Venison has less cholesterol content than turkey and chicken and is also incredibly low in saturated fats. So the more you eat, the better your body will be able to regulate your blood cholesterol levels, keeping bad cholesterol at bay.
  • Very low in fat and cholesterol, game meat is lean as they are wild and are able to walk and roam freely so do not store so much fat.
  • The fat that is in game meat is Omega 3. When you hear Omega-3, most people will think of salmon, however wild game such as venison has an optimum ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6 fatty acids, making game one of the healthiest sources of good fat.
  • Game is very high in Iron and contains higher levels of many beneficial nutrients including vitamin E, Beta Carotene, Zinc Vitamin B(6) and Selenium. Selenium is an important part of our diet that we often lack and helps protect cells from damage caused by free radicals.

To you as the consumer, venison holds many health benefits as opposed to other meat sources.

Historically, by the early 1950’s, South Africa’s wild game was at an all-time low with some species on the brink of extinction with a TOTAL of only half a million wild animals left in South Africa. (eg. Black Wildebeest only 52 left, Bontebok only 22 left, Cape Mountain Zebra only 22 left and many other game species so few no one ever saw them). Wild game meat became unknown to the housewife, cook and restaurant chef, since over 3 generations had none to eat.

This dilemma was solved by the South African government and landowners agreeing that if wild game could be effectively managed and contained or controlled the wild game could then belong to the landowner. Containing or controlling the game with fences was a must due to liability coming from the new ownership laws. This led to the game being no longer ‘res nulus’ (in latin means it belongs to no one), but being an asset and being owned by private land owners, who also from an aesthetic point were happy, proud and thus looked after THEIR wild game as a newly acquired asset.

As south Africa has about 80 % of its total land area owned by private ranches/ private individuals, this sheer size and large amount of private ownership caused a MASSIVE upward turn in game numbers and species, a major conservation, habitat and ecological success.

Soon, typical of wild game in well looked after native and natural habitats by conservation minded landowners, the wild game numbers began to increase beyond the carrying capacity of the landowners’ properties. This led to the transfer by live capture of WILD game, for monetary gain to other landowners, so causing game numbers to grow even more across South Africa.

The banning of hunting in Kenya around the 1960’s resulted in hunters worldwide enquiring for safari hunts in South Africa and we had the game and the laws to allow this! The game numbers, i am told, in Kenya since the banning of hunting there is now only a fraction of what it once was.

TODAY a WILD GAME REVOLUTION has occurred in SA, driven initially by laws giving landowners ownership of the game, then MAINLY from hunters from around the world as well as hunters from South Africa. This has been ongoing, sustainably for over 40 years already.

Today there are, including some predators, well over 30 MILLION wild game animals in South Africa – MOST OF WHICH ARE PRIVATELY OWNED, so these wild game are protected from poaching and over hunting by their owners because the wild game is all a huge and very special asset and is also a national treasure !!!

This huge number (OVER 30 MILLION) excludes the small mammals, birds and insect life which also exploded with this wild game revolution, which resulted in an even better recovery of our national ecosystems.

In South Africa the situation is vastly different from, say, that in Europe. In South Africa one finds a huge variety of antelope, many of them very large such as Eland and Kudu. Before the coming of the European settlers, the situation regulated itself as lions and many other predators would hunt the antelope selectively.

That the situation changed was not due to the supposed “bloodthirstiness” of the Europeans but was simply a matter of technology – the rifle AND modern developments – roads, towns and livestock fences limiting the game’s movements. This made it easier to hunt anything from lions more easily than with spears or arrows.

The appalling mass slaughters of game that took place in many African countries following independence are a sad testament to the misuse of the rifle, but the BIGGER effect of game numbers dwindling was the massive increase in livestock numbers ( sheep, cattle and goats) and farming ( ploughing up natural veld / habitat ) at that time, which out-competed the game for habitat. (this was in the period approximately late 1800 to about 1950)

Today lions are no longer found in the wild here but only in game parks large enough to sustain their predation. Outside the parks, however, South Africa teems with game. Farms here do not much resemble their counterparts in Europe and encompass much BIG country / large farms or ranches which is eminently suitable for wildlife and wild game.

While leopards are still found outside game parks, they tend to be found only in the more mountainous and remote areas. Leopard numbers are also growing due to the large wild game prey base and due to farmers/ranchers being more tolerant of leopards in general. But the predators are not enough to control game numbers and never will be due to the size of the human population.

Without natural predators the game would multiply out of control and degrade its own environment to the detriment, not only of the game antelope themselves, but also down the food chain and destroy the ecosystems. It has thus become necessary for man to fill the void left by the larger predators and become a selective predator, a hunter.

Research has recently shown that Wild game have a positive impact on the environment / habitat. The formation in which they graze instinctively on the lookout for predators makes their impact on the habitat different and better than livestock. This grazing formation, a more open spread of animals in a herd, causes less soil compaction from hoof action than livestock would. Soil compaction prevents rainwater from penetrating the soil to replenish underground aquifers and worse, water then flows away at speed taking topsoil with it.

The seedbank, the gold of any habitat, sits only in the top inch of soil and many seeds are viable for up to 7 years, so if the top soil is lost the seedbank is gone and the carrying capacity of the habitat declines drastically, affecting all animals, wild game and livestock and eventually people.

Mixed species of wild game also have a positive impact on habitat because each species eats different parts of the plants and eat different plants so a mixed grazing impact occurs, unlike with livestock only certain plants are eaten causing a plant imbalance and resulting in lower optimization and a decline in the habitat quality – generally a farm will produce less protein per acre from livestock than with wild game – a financial and economic impact.