FARMING IN KGATLENG DISTRICT

Kgatleng district is located on the south-eastern part of the country sharing its boundary with Central district with the Dibete Cordon fence as the physical demarcating boundary; to the west it is bordered by the Kweneng district; to the south by the Greater Gaborone Area and South East district, and the international boundary between Botswana and South Africa borders it to the east.

Relative to the physical size of other districts, Kgatleng district has a very small land area of 7600 km2 compared with Central district with 141076 km2, Ghanzi district with 117 910 km2 and Kgalagadi with 105 200 km2 (Kgatleng district development plan 6:2003-2009). Even though Ghanzi and Kgalagadi districts have large land area they do not correspondingly have large population sizes and are surpassed by this small district. They have 33 044 and 44 847 people respectively whereas Kgatleng district has 76 722 people according to the 2011 census. The district development plan 6:2003-2009 also depicts that Kgatleng district has only one primary centre, which is Mochudi and that the district is wholly communal, with no other tenure, neither freehold nor state land.

 

The district is linked to Gaborone city in the south and Central district in the north by the A1 road. To the East it is linked to South Africa by the Mochudi – Sikwane Road, and to the west it is linked to Kweneng district by the Bokaa – Kopong road. The district is also linked to the southern and northern parts of the country by the railway line.

 

There are telecommunications and postal services in the district that link Kgatleng with other parts of the country. There are also mobile phone services in the district.

 

ENVIRONMENTAL FEATURES

Climate

The district has an annual average temperature of 20 degrees Celsius, an average summer temperature of 28 degrees Celsius and average minimum temperature of 13 degrees Celsius. Rainfall occurs in summer with annual ranges of between 450 mm and 550 mm. An annual rainfall variation is around 35% except during drought periods when the total is reduced quite significantly. Thus the climate of the district is described as having very hot summers and mild winters with temperatures rarely falling below freezing point.

 

Kgatleng district is described as having generally flat and undulating physical features with small and low hill ranges and occasional rocky outcrops and several extensive drainage channel systems. There exist the Oodi Hill, Modipane Hill and a range of low hills from Bokaa towards Mochudi. The drainage system includes the Notwane and Metsimotlhabe rivers and Tlhagale and Monametsana streams that flow into the Notwane River until it reaches the Limpopo River.

 

Vegetation

Kgatleng district is dominated by a shrub and tree savannah with areas of woodland, mainly on hills and along drainage lines. The vegetation is categorized as being fair due to bush encroachment from Acacia species andDichrostachys cineria (Moselesele). The herbaceous species composition is dominated by good and intermediate forage value species such as Panicum maximum (Mhaha), U. trichopus (Phoka), Eragrostis rigidor (Rathathe),Eragrostis lehmaniana (Rathathe), Aristida congesta (Seloka), Digitaria species (Namele) and Schmidtia pappophoroides (Tshwang). Presence of browsable woody species – mostly of good and intermediate value – contributes to forage availability to livestock. (http://www.mewt.gov.bw). Human related influences have led to the vegetation changing considerably over the years. The effects of drought have also caught up with this state of affairs hence overgrazing and deforestation, even more heavily around the borehole areas. Generally the condition was fair to good.

Water

The district relies on underground and surface water for both human and livestock consumption. There is the Bokaa dam in the district. The district is also connected to the North-South Carrier water pipeline. In some parts of the district there is a problem of water quality especially in the river village therefore according to the district development plan 6:2003-2009, a bi-lateral arrangement has been made to draw water from Molatedi Dam in South Africa to supplement the existing sources in the district.

 

WHAT TO KEEP

Many breeds can thrive in this area since it has a similar ecological state to southern and south east districts hence their similarities in breeds. Mostly crossbreeds are ideal in this area as they combine good qualities of their respective breeds.

CATTLE BREEDS REASON
Tswana -Tolerant to local conditions
Brahman -Heat and tick tolerant

-Disease resistant

-hardy

Simmental Should be considered as it has the:

-fertility

-milking ability

-Superior weight gain

-Carcass yield

-Temperament

-Rapid growth

Charolais -Charolais are good for growth and uniformity

-They have superior natural live weight gain for age

-Tremendous muscling and conformity

-Easy to manage in terms of temperament

-Ease of calving

– The ability to fit into any system – grass based or intensive

Bonsmara- composite breed

[5/8 (62.5%) Afrikaner

3/8 (37.5%)Hereford or Shorthorn]

 

 

-Can graze extensively

-They are well adapted to sub-tropical climate.

-Produce high quality meat

-High fertility

-Good calving rate

-Calm temperament and easy to handle

-Suitable for use in crossbreeding

Beefmaster – composite breed

[50% Brahman

25%Hereford

25% Shorthorn]

-This is a dual purpose breed that blends strong maternal traits with excellent growth and carcass abilities.

-The cattle are heat, drought and insect resistant.

– You can expect minimal calving problems,

– heavy weaning weights,

-exceptionally few health problems,

– High fertility from females and bulls.

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

 

GOAT BREEDS REASON
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

-hardy

-Good mothering ability

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

 

SHEEP REASON
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

 

WHAT YOU WILL NEED

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.

 

WHAT YOU PAY

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. The costs incurred in livestock production differs according to the type of system a farmer wishes to engage in. The scale in terms of size of operation also affects the costs. Farmers should remember however not to judge the project feasibility with simple cost vs profit, as it does not give a practical answer, Technical and Strategical Feasibility studies should be done. In short these costs can be summarized as:

Fixed costs

– Land and Land Developments (fencing, gates, poles etc.)

-Boreholes (Water Sources)

-Animals: Breeding Bulls/Rams/Bucks

Breeding Cows/Ewes/Does

Weaners etc.

-Permanent Labour

-Infrastructure (Handlings; Kraals, Storage Areas, Crushes, Holding pans, etc.)

Variable costs

-Casual Labour

-Transport

-Diesel / Oil

-Drugs (Medication)

-Chemicals

-Tools

-Farm equipment

-Mortality

-Electricity

-Feed and supplements

-Water

-Marketing

-Insurance (animals)

 

WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR

Diseases

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:

DISEASE DISCRIPTION/SYMPTOMS PREVENTION/TREATMENT
Phosphorus deficiency (magetla, hypophosphataemia) Phosphorus deficiency can result in

  • low conception rates,
  • reduced feed intake,
  • poor feed efficiency,
  • lower growth rate,
  • reduced milk production,
  • reproductive failures
  • Skeletal abnormalities.
  • A common symptom of phosphorus deficiency is often seen as an abnormal habit of eating or chewing foreign substances such as dirt or wood.

– A Vitamin D deficiency or an excess in dietary calcium will reduce the absorption of phosphorus. The most critical need for phosphorus is the last trimester of pregnancy (2-3 months pre-calving) and the period immediately prior to breeding season.

Supplement regularly especially livestock in their trimester of calving.

-Mineral licks to correct mineral imbalances such as:

  • Dicalcium phosphate
  • Monosodium phosphate

-Report the case to the veterinary officer who will give injections of phosphamine.

Lumpy skin (LSD) (Nkokomane)

*Cattle

-Fever

-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

Beef measles Beef measles is a cause for concern in the beef market as it causes a loss in foreign market such as the EU which does not accept affected meat.

-it has become prevalent in our meat of late.

-This disease is caused by beef tapeworm cysticerus bovis which is found within muscles of cattle at meat inspection.

-There are no visible signs as measles can only be detected in meat after slaughter causing the meat to be disqualified from the EU market.

– meat is then put in cold storage treatment for 10-14 days and later sold to non EU markets at very low prices which is a great loss to a beef producer.

-This makes this disease of great importance as it can cripple one’s business in livestock.

1) Avoid faecal contamination of cattle feed and grazing areas. Farm workers and visitors must practice good hygiene, and toilets must be strategically provided.

2) Avoid access by cattle to pastures infected with human waste.

3) Identify farm workers infected with the adult tapeworm and give them effective treatment. You may consult your medical practitioner or pharmacist for more information about the available types of drugs.

4) Sell your cattle to an abattoir where competent meat inspection is practiced so that infected carcasses may be detected before it can be taken to the market.

6) Since beef measles affects both humans and cattle to maintain its life cycle, make an effort to participate in all multi sector committees at community or national level that are concerned with measles prevention and control.

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.

(Mushi, 1995, Mushi et al., 1999)

 

 

Parasites

  • Internal parasites during rainy season when grazing areas are lush such as stomach worms (wireworms, flat worms, round worms) and therefore regular de worming should be practiced to keep livestock in good health.
  • External parasites such as ticks that can cause diseases such as red water/tick fever (babesiosis-caused by blue tick) in cattle and sheep. It would be best to regularly inspect animals for external parasites and dip regularly
  • Lies, flies- insect repellents are the best aid against these.

Predators

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.

WHO TO TALK TO

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
  • CEDA
  • Young Farmers Fund
  • Youth Development Fund
  • LEA
  • Farmers Associations
  • Independent outlets like agrifeed and other feed centers, veterinarians etc.

With all this information at hand, any enthusiastic person with a great deal of passion for livestock farming can start their business and turn it into a successful enterprise that many admire and benchmark on so best of luck!