This is a district in the western part of Botswana that borders Namibia in the west and extends to the east into much of the country. The district has an area of 117 910 km2with most of the eastern half of it making up the central Kalahari game reserve and in between lies 58 km of ‘no man’s land which act as a buffer zone between wildlife and the farms and between Kalahari predators and livestock(Ghanzi district development plan 6:2003-2009). According to the 2011 population census, Ghanzi has the least number of people than any other district in Botswana with a population of 33 044 people. The major population centers being Ghanzi Township and the villages of Charles hill, Karakubis, Kalkfontein and Dekar.
Ghanzi is the center of the cattle farming industry in Botswana. It is regarded as one of the best cattle ranging areas renowned for the high quality free roaming beef it produces. In fact, Ghanzi farmers produce 75% of the beef that BMC exports. Today there are over 200 cattle farms, holding approximately 6 per cent of the national herd. Most are prospering, owing to the fine grazing, abundant supply of groundwater and improved ranching techniques. Ghanzi community is a conglomeration of ethnic groups – Bushmen, Bakgalagadi, Baherero, Batawana, and Afrikaaners who own many of the farms. Afrikaans is widely spoken – you might feel as if you are in a tiny South African place in the Northern Cape.
The district is well linked to other districts and major centers such by tarred roads such as the Trans-Kalahari highway and Ghanzi-Maun road which have improved links to other parts of the country considerably as they bring developments and market access to the district. Ghanzi is the perfect place to stock up on fuel, food and water as it has a variety of shops, filling stations and vehicle repair shops.
The climate of the district is classified as semi-arid, of the low altitude, hot steppe type with summer rainfall. A characteristic of the climate is the unpredictability of rainfall and the extreme temperature variations that can occur between day and night in winter.
Mean maximum daily temperatures are 30-33°C in January and 22°C in July. Minimum temperatures are 4-5°C during winter. Winds are mainly easterly in the summer and northerly during the winter. The average wind speed is 43 km/h. (http://www.accuweather.com ).
The long-term mean annual rainfall is around 375 mm, although departures from these average values may be extreme with up to 58% variation from year to year. Precipitation is characterized by high intensity, highly localized storm events between October and April. Evaporation exceeds precipitation by approximately 93%. Average relative humidity is around 61 %. (Ghanzi district development plan 6:2003-2009)
In terms of vegetation, the district is generally classified as a transitional zone of sandveld and hardveld. On a more micro level, the District is divided into the Northern Kgalagadi tree and bush savanna and the Ghanzi bush savannah. Most of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve can be broadly classified as semi-arid tree and bush savannah, though it comprises of a mosaic of several habitat units and types. Generally, the vegetation may be characterized by an abundance of low growing shrubs and varying densities of good to poor quality grasses.
The tree and bush savanna is a mixture of trees and bushes with trees like Peltophorum africanum (weeping wattle, mosetlha) and Grewia flava (raisin bush, moretlwa) dominating. In the bush savanna area, there are mostly bushes and grasses and the dominating plants are mostly Acacia species, Terminalia sericea (silver Terminalia, mogonono), Acacia erioloba (camel thorn, mogotlho), Boscia abitrunca (shepherd’s tree, motlopi),Acacia mellifera (black thorn, mongana), and Dichrostachys cineria (Moselesele).
The Ghanzi ridge contains the most productive land in the district due to its high water potential and moderate quality soils. The bulk of the land along the ridge is freehold land and a large number of commercial farming enterprises (ranches) are found along the ridge.
Water is one of the most limiting resources in the District. Most of the permanent water sources which are boreholes are located on or near the Ghanzi Ridge, which seems to be recharged from rainfall. Many boreholes have been drilled around pans and fossil valleys. Almost all major settlements in the District are situated in the vicinity of these pans and valleys. The depth of water differs significantly from 28.5 meters (Ncojane), to 115 meters (Lonetree and Rooibrak), to as much as 210 meters in Charles Hill (Ghanzi district development plan 6:2003-2009). The water quality varies from soft to extremely hard with differing amounts of total dissolved solids. Potable water is a major concern therefore it is advisable to get fresh water as the water of the Kalahari is too salty for human consumption.
WHAT TO KEEP
This district boasts a rich history in pastoral farming and since there are numerous established farmers, this is proof that any livestock can thrive in this region with abundant resources and market. This are some of the good quality pure breeds that can perform well in this region for meat producers. Crossbreeds are also ideal in this area as they combine good qualities of their respective breeds. This district is also avid in small stock farming with large numbers of sheep and Goats recorded in this area. Some of the breeds that do well in this region are:
||-Tolerant to local conditions
||-Heat and tick tolerant
||Should be considered as it has the:
-Superior weight gain
||-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
-Good calving rate
-Calm temperament and easy to handle
-Suitable for use in crossbreeding
|Beefmaster – composite breed
|-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.
||-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
||Tolerant to local conditions making it
-Heat and tick resistant
-Good for both meat and milk
-High twining rate sometimes triples
-Large build hence good for meat production
||-Large goat hence good for meat production
-Good mothering ability
-long legs; excellent walking ability enabling large coverage to find browse.
||Tolerant to local conditions
-large build hence good for meat
– lambs grow rapidly
-Tolerates arid conditions
– Has many uses- pelts, meat, wool
||One of the oldest sheep breeds but not common to this country.
-thrive even under arid conditions and extreme temperatures.
-Fat is white: character that would make carcass easy to market
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:
– Land and Land Developments (fencing, gates, poles etc.)
-Boreholes (Water Sources)
-Animals: Breeding Bulls/Rams/Bucks
-Infrastructure (Handlings; Kraals, Storage Areas, Crushes, Holding pans, etc.)
-Diesel / Oil
-Feed and supplements
WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR
It is wise to always be on the lookout for notifiable diseases in the country as deemed by the department of veterinary services for livestock as some can go across zones with vaccination campaign being carried out annually for these diseases.
The following diseases have been reported/showing up in the district:
|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)
-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
|– 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 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)
- 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.
There are presences of predators such as;
- cheetahs and leopards
Which pounce on calves and smallstock because of their size and vulnerability. But to this end, guard dogs and assistance from Cheetah Conservation Botswana who teach how to co-exist with these predators as well as working closely with the Department of Wildlife and the Ministries of Agriculture and Environment who also educate farmers on ways of dealing with predators without necessarily killing them is the best way to deter this problem.
Also making sure that farm fences are in good shape and kraals are impenetrable can also prevent attacks as predators would not have access especially at night.
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
- Young Farmers Fund
- Youth Development Fund
- Farmers Associations
- Independent outlets like agrifeed and other feed centers, veterinarians etc.
As an aspiring farmer or an already established farmer who wants to make their farm a successful it is important to know that information is power, how one uses that power is the key to future results. With all this knowledge in your hand it’s up to you to take the first step into utilizing it and turning it into reality, gold, a successful enterprise because there is a bright future in livestock farming. Best of luck!