In what is the biggest battle for dual purpose Fleckvieh cows in Kenya, two millionaire farmers are fighting in court in a case that will determine the future of the breed in the country.
The Fleckvieh cows were introduced in Kenya in 2009 from South Africa by Fleckvieh Genetics East Africa which had the franchise.
The company was run by Gerard Besselling, a Dutch, and his Kenyan wife, Lydia Wanjiah who made various inroads into Kiambu and the Coast where they sold semen to farmers.
Farmers loved Fleckvieh because while the average and ordinary cow normally weighed 200 to 300 kg, Fleckvieh cows reached 300 kg in six months because they gained 1.5 kg per day.
When British farmer Kelvin Beale heard about Fleckvieh, he approached the Kenyan company for a deal. They would join hands and start a breeders company with Gerard and Lydia and their company. To do that, they formed a company known as Fleckvieh Cattle Breeders Limited.
Things started on a good note and Fleckvieh Cattle Breeders Limited acquired two hundred Boran cows from Garissa to start a breeding program with Fleckvieh semen. Meanwhile, 12 of them died.
The owners of the company were Kevin Beale, Leendered Den Dulk and Diana Mutunga. But the relationship between this group and the Besselling family deteriorated and Bessseling took them to court after they changed the ownership of the cows to Kilifi Hills Limited – and thus pushed out Fleckvieh Cattle Breeders Limited and Besseling’s Fleckvieh Genetics East Africa.
As such, no meaningful business was transacted and Besseling wanted the cows shared out amongst the subscribers. But the British farmer has also moved to court seeking more than Sh80 million compensation for breach of contract.
In a new suit being heard in Mombasa, Kelvin Beale says that Fleckvieh Cattle Breeders Limited contracted Besseling’s Fleckvieh Genetic East Africa Limited to supply embryos for implanting in 200 Boran cows.
He now tells the court that his farm had suffered an unanticipated loss of up to Sh80,583,200 from failure by the firm to deliver embryos.
“I made £250,000 (Sh33,067,154) investment, rented and purchased land, imported tractors, balers and other machinery, plus the purchase of 200 cows from Garissa,” said Beale.
He has told the court that failure by Fleckvieh Genetic East Africa Limited to supply the embryos put the business plan in jeopardy and ruined the breeding programme. Beale has sued the firm and its directors, Lydia Blessing and Gerald Blessing. He wants the courts to stop the directors from selling off the entire herd of cattle currently at Fleckvieh Model Farms, at Vipingo.
He also wants a go-ahead to attach all Fleckvich cattle breeds waiting to calf and the cross-bred calves at the model farm. Beale has asked the court to bar Lydia and Gerald from transacting any business on behalf of his company and to stop importing and distributing Fleckvieh generics and products from the Fleckvieh patent holder in Bavaria, Geramay.
However, the Blessings have counter-sued Beale for defamation and breach of contract, accusing him of a plot to forcibly acquire the breeding project.
They want a full refund of Sh4 million in expenses and Sh8.5 million being a 50 per cent entitlement to all assets on Beale’s farm. They also want a further Sh1.7 million from the death of 22 cattle due to what they claim to be unprofessional handling, and Sh25 million that would be gained if the breeding project they claim they initiated went through.
Gerald and Lydia are also seeking Sh10 million as alternative buy-off of royalties from cattle bearing their firm’s branded semen. They accuse Beale of selling 62 cattle at an estimate price of Sh3 million without accounting for the proceeds of the sale. They said they had allowed Beale to use their brand to market his farm from 2009 to date.
Whichever way the case goes, it will determine who will have the way of the future of Fleckvieh in Kenya.