Farming In North East District

The second smallest district in the country that is bordered by the central district in the west with the Shashe river forming the boundary. In the east and north is Zimbabwe. It has a total area of 5,120km2(1,980sq mi), a population of 167 500 according to the 2011 census with a density of 331km2(85sq mi).

Its location has positive influence to its residents socially, economically and educationally in the sense that it has a well-established/developed capital, Francistown and it boarders Zimbabwe making the two, as services centers hence residents acquiring education as well as developments. It is a well accessible district with good Telecommunication networks. However radio reception is sometimes weak in remote villages.




Distinct seasons are summer and winter which is generally mild except for occasional cold winds. The district development plan: 6 (2003-2009) states that temperature ranges in the winter can be 50C min – 230C. In summer, temperature range from 170C min -300C max. It also states that the district has fair annual rainfall averages ranging between 440 millimeters (in the south) and 500 millimeters (in the north), but falls during few months of October to March usually in thunderstorms. It is evident though that rainfall ranges have been declining in this few years.

The district has several rivers and streams. The principal rivers include Shashe,Vukwi, Tati, Ntshe, Sisukwe and Ramokgwebana. This rivers and streams carry floodwater after rainstorms during the rainy season, but for the rest of the year are dry therefore they can be a water source for livestock for a limited amount of time.


This is a hardveld area in terms of ecological zones that is characterised by tree savanna with Mophane trees (Colospermum mopane) predominating. Since the north and west of the district are the most cultivated, only large trees are left of the original woodland therefore browse might be a bit scarce in terms of good fodder for livestock. The district development plan 6 has findings of patchy grass cover found in most parts of the communal lands and the freehold land. Areas with Mophane trees have poor grass cover hence this could mean that grazing areas would not have sufficient forage for livestock hence a need to have supplementary feeding.


Even with inadequacy of fodder, the following animals are ideal for keeping. According to Moreki and Ntesang (2013) these livestock have been able to prosper in the district’s climate conditions.

Tswana -Tolerant to local conditions
Brahman -Heat and tick tolerant

-Disease resistant


Simmental Should be considered as it has the:


-milking ability

-Superior weight gain

-Carcass yield


-Rapid growth

Tswana/Brahman crossbreed -Combines the good characteristics of the two breeds as stated above.
Simbra (Brahman + Simmental) -Higher reproductive performance

– Faster growth rate, Viable

-Combines strengths of Brahman and Simmental


Tswana breed Tolerant to local conditions making it

-Heat and tick resistant

-Disease resistant

-Good for both meat and milk

Boer Goat -High fertility

-High twining rate sometimes triples

-Large build hence good for meat production

Kalahari Red -Large goat hence good for meat production


-Good mothering ability

-long legs; excellent walking ability enabling large coverage to find browse.


Tswana Tolerant to local conditions

-large build hence good for meat

Karakul -Good milkers

– lambs grow rapidly

-Tolerates arid conditions

– Has many uses- pelts, meat, wool

Awassi sheep One of the oldest sheep breeds but not common to this country.

-thrive even under arid conditions and extreme temperatures.

Dorper -Mutton sheep

-Fat is white: character that would make carcass easy to market

-Hardy breed



In order to start on farming there are some basic resources needed for the enterprise to function well. This include:

Firstly one has to acquire land where they will be able to rear their animals on.

Secondly water source is vital for drinking by animals as well as for keeping the farm working, this can be a borehole, dam etc. but where needed water rights must always be available.

Animal identification is also vital in terms of branding so that when the animals are obtained, they can be identified and linked to the owner.

Livestock- be it cattle, sheep, goats or a combination of them depending on one’s preference.

Infrastructure- such as kraals, fencing for farm, crush, storeroom and if possible storage for feeds and supplements

Tools- for day to day management of livestock e.g. hoof trimmers, budizzo, brand, ear tags etc.

Labour- to help around with the day to day caring and handling of livestock.


Some infrastructures such as kraals can be made or constructed by the farmer to reduce costs such as kraals and crushes as specifications can be freely obtained from the department of animal production. Other costs could be:

Cost of acquiring land if the only option is to buy.

Water access if the only water source is from others therefore there would be fuel cost or even drilling one’s own borehole.

Fencing: which includes fence, poles, gate etc.

Livestock when purchasing them

Feeds and supplements if there is shortage of grass and browse.

Vaccines, medicines, chemicals, tools etc.

Labour costs.



Notifiable diseases in the country as deemed by the department of veterinary services for livestock as some can go across zones with vaccination starting in May for rabies and June for other diseases.

The following diseases have been reported/showing up in the district:

Lumpy skin (LSD) (Nkokomane)



-eruption of painful skin nodules which covers neck, brisket, back, thighs, legs, perineum(portion of the body wall that covers pelvic outlet; surrounds anus and terminal parts of the urogenital tract), udder and scrotum.

– Nodules may occur on nostrils and mouth causing salivation and Respiratory obstruction

– Abortion may occur

– Lameness

– Animals are vaccinated annually to protect cattle against LSD.

-Infected animals should be quarantined to prevent spread.

– Use of insecticides and repellents aid in the prevention of the spread of LSD by killing insects like mosquitoes.

– Animals affected cannot cross to other zones.

– Close monitoring of animals is vital

Rabies (Molafo)



Infection spread by bite of an infected animal as virus is present in saliva.

-There has been cases of rabies in cattle and goats in the area

In cattle:(mushi, 1995, mushi et al.,1999)



Drop in production

Deprived appetite and will chew wood or eat stones

Muscle trembling on ears and face

Paralysis of the pharyngeal muscles and inability to swallow.

Excessive  salivation

Continuous bellowing

There may be increased libido or sexual excitement on both sexes.

Dilated pupils.

Cattle may become vicious and attack man and other animals.

Progressive paralysis




In goats:

Excessive bleating

Excessive salivation

Sexual excitement is also marked and affected goats will try to mate others.

Some degree of aggression is possible.

Death in 3 to 5 days.

-Call for veterinary assistance.


– In the face of an outbreak involving goats, the affected herd and neighboring herds should be vaccinated.

Heartwater (metsi a pelo) -Prominent in goats especially those that move in from other districts.

-Also in exotic breeds as they are not resistant and can result in sudden death.

-Animal in good condition suddenly collapses with legs pedaling and death within hours.

-Walk in circles.

-It can be treated with Tetracycline dose rate of 10 mg/kg for 3 days.

-Prevention is by:

Tick control by regular          application of an acaricide (dipping).

Vaccination against heartwater to animals being first introduced to an endemic area.



Internal parasites during rainy season when grazing areas are lush such as  stomach worms( wireworms, flat worms, round worms)

External parasites such as ticks that can cause diseases such as red water/tick fever (babesiosis-caused by blue tick) in cattle and sheep.

Lies, flies



There are no reports on predator problems in the districts.

Poisonous plants

This is a district that does not have a problem with poisonous plants and not much problem have occurred on poisonous plants.


Various individuals and organizations can assist anyone interested in venturing into livestock farming in different ways. Some can share experience, others can advise on where to start, who to seek help from, what you need as well as how to run the farm successfully. Some organizations are solely there for funding in order to kick start the business. Some of them are:

Department of veterinary services

Department of animal production

Botswana meat commission

Established Farmers and feedlots


Young Farmers Fund

Youth Development Fund


Farmers Associations

Independent outlets like agrifeed and other feed centers, veterinarians etc.

With all these on the table, all that is left is determination and a first step into the right direction of livestock farming. Best of luck!



Moreki J.C and Ntesang J.B. (2013). Factors leading to the replacement of bolus in cattle with electronic ear tags and farmers’ views on the electronic ear tag system in three extension areas of North East District, Botswana. Journal of Agricuktural Technology 9(4): 801-815.

Moreki J.C, Ndubo N.S, Dithshupo T, Ntesang J.B.(2012). Cattle identification and traceability in Botswana. Journal of Animal Science Advances 2(12): 925-983

Mushi E.Z. (1995). Infectious Diseases of Livestock in Botswana. Government Printer, Gaborone. Botswana.ISBN-99912-1-284-1

Mushi E.Z. Binta M.G. Chabo R.G. and Modisa L. (1999). Diseases of goats in Botswana. Government Printer, Gaborone. Botswana.ISBN-99912-1-331-7

North East District Development Plan 6:2003-2009. North East District Council Development Committee, Ministry of Local Government. Botswana.