As much as it is important to own livestock in our society, it is also equally vital to know all aspects that affect or influence the practice. Such aspects may include climate and vegetation in that particular region that one wishes to rear in, what livestock to keep as well as the basic things that would be needed for the operation to start. It is also crucial to know how much capital (money) will be needed to start such a practice, the challenges you might come across as well as who would assist you to get through them. All these aspects vary from location to location hence why were are going to take it district by district.
Kweneng District is located in the southeastern part of Botswana. It shares boundaries with Southern District in the south, Gantsi District in the north, Kgatleng District, South East District and Gaborone City in the east; Central District in the northeast and Kgalagadi in the west. The District covers 38 122 square kilometers of which, 35683 km² (93.6%) is Communal Land; and the remaining 2 440 km² (6.4%) is Khutse Game Reserve which is state land. (Kweneng District Development Plan 6, 2003 – 2009)
It is a well-developed district with most of its access roads developed linking the District and other districts and major centers. Even other internal road linkages are well in use. According to the district’s development plan 6(2003-2009),Telecommunications are modernized and reliable with most villages in the district having access to telephone services and Radio communication and postal services are evenly distributed throughout the village.
The District has a semi-arid climate with hot and summer rainfall, which occurs in the period October-March. The mean annual rainfall varies from 500mm to 600mm in the northeastern to less than 350mm in the western part of the District (Setshwaelo, 2001).
Temperatures vary in the district due to altitude. According to Setshwaelo (2001) and Moreki et al. (2013), the mean daily temperature in summer varies from 25-32.60C and in winter from 15-200C. In the extreme south-west of the District a minimum of more than 100C and below zero are recorded in the early mornings in winter, that is, between the months of June and August. Frost also often occurs during the same period. The wind direction is mostly from east and northeast. Southerly winds are, however, common during summer. The wind speed increases in the month of October.
The Kweneng District landscape is characterised by the sandveld in the western part and the hardveld which has major landforms include Kopong hills and escarpments (long steep slopes) that would affect the amount of relief rainfall coming down in the area. The vegetation consists of bush and tree savannah, with acacia shrubs formations in southern, eastern and northern areas. This is mainly due to the soils and rainfall that characterize Kweneng District. The western part is generally covered with shrub savannah land grass due to low rainfall and occurrence of Kalahari sands, which determines the predominance of hardy bush and grass species, reflecting desert-like conditions. The southeastern part is covered by a variety of woodland and grass and species, at a higher level of productivity compared with the rest of the District. According to the district development plan 6 (2003-2009) the dominant tree species in the District are;
- Terminalia sericea(silver Terminalia/mogonono),
- Lonchocarpus nelsii,
- Acacia eroloba(camel thorn/mogotlho),
- Acacia erubesceus(),
- Acacia tortilis(umbrella thorn/mosu),
- Combretum spp, and acacia luederitzic and peltoforum Africanum(weeping wattle/mosetlha)
Moreki et al.(2014) suggests that nutritious forages like eragrostis rigidiour(curly leaf grass/rathathe) are available but are mostly being replaced by non-nutritious plants such as panicum maximum(guinea grass/ Mphaga).
WHAT TO KEEP
The district is suitable for most types of livestock with cattle, sheep and goats being the most common due to availability of browse and grasses for feeding as well as the estimate range of rainfall of the region. With cattle, the most suitable breeds would be indigenous Tswana breed for its tolerance to local conditions and disease and parasite resistance (Mpofu, 1996). Some breeds that have similar characteristics would be;
- Simmental with some being suitable for crossbreeding with the Tswana breed to increase milk and beef production as well as survival characteristics mentioned above in order to minimize calf mortality.
With goats, research by Moreki et al. (2014) has shown that the most preferred breeds in the district are Boerand Tswana breeds which are doing well. Another breed that would fare well would be the Kalahari red as it is produces well even in harsh conditions therefore making it more tolerant and efficient without needing too much input.
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 WILL PAY FOR
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.
WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR
Notifiable diseases in the country as deemed by the department of veterinary services for livestock as some can go across species. These are:
- Sheep-pox and sheep scab
- Lumpy skin disease
- Blue tongue
- Heart water (metsi a pelo,semee)-goats especially Angora and Boer goats
- Goat pox (sekgwaripana)
- Black quarter
All this can be included in a herd health programme for proper vaccinations and to prevent outbreaks.
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.
Not many predatory animals roam freely as most animals are in confinement in the Khutse Game Reserve therefore it will be rare to have clashes with predatory animals.
There are many range plants in the wilderness that animals are exposed to and they are distributed countrywide. Some range plants are classed as poisonous plants because if they are eaten by livestock they may suffer from plant poisoning with symptoms ranging from diarrhea, vomiting, shallow breathing, paralysis and even death. Farmers should ensure that livestock do not browse or graze in areas where these are found. Some examples are:
|Thorn apple, nightshade
Rubber hedge plant
Wild striped cucumber
Source: Mushi et al.(1999), Kasozi et al.(1999)
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
- 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!
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Kweneng District Development Plan 6:2003-2009. Kweneng District Council Development Committee, Ministry of Local Government. Botswana.
Moreki J.C. and Tsopito C.M. (2013). Effect of climate change on dairy production in Botswana and its suitable mitigation strategies. Online J. Anim. Feed Res., 3(6): 216-221. http://www.science-line.com/index /; http://www.ojafr.ir
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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
Nsoso S J, Monkhei M and Tlhwaafalo B E (2004): A survey of traditional small stock farmers in Molelopole North, Kweneng district, Botswana: Demographic parameters, market practices and marketing channels. Livestock Research for Rural Development. Vol. 16, Art. #100. Retrieved April 10, 115, from http://www.lrrd.org/lrrd16/12/nsos16100.htm
Setshwaelo L. (2001). A study of grasslands/livestock vulnerability and adaptation to climate change: Botswana. Government of Botswana.