FARMING IN THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT

This district is also known as Ngwaketse district. It capital is Kanye, home to the Bangwaketse, one of the largest growing villages in Botswana. Other large villages in the southern district include Moshupa, home to the Bakgatla-ba-ga Mmanaana, and Goodhope, home of the Barolong. The Southern district (Ngwaketse district), is home to Botswana’s second largest beef farmers where there are large privately owned ranges, and several government run beef ranges which provide agricultural support to the local farmers. Maize and sorghum, Botswana’s staple crop, are also raised in the area.

 

In the south, Southern borders the North West Province of South Africa. Domestically, it borders the following districts: South-East District in the east, Kweneng District in the north and Kgalagadi District in the south west.It has an area of 26,876 square kilometres of which 98.8% is Tribal Land and 1.2% State Land. The district is linked to other districts through various road networks and the railway line in the eastern part of the district provides transport for people and goods to and from major centres such as Lobatse, Gaborone and Francistown. In terms of food and domestic supplies, the Southern district development plan 6(2003-2009) states that the district is able to support itself but 30% of the commodities are obtained from Lobatse and Gaborone. About 90% of the district cattle sales are absorbed by the Botswana Meat Commission and the remaining 10% by local butcheries.

ENVIRONMENTAL FEATURES

Climate

Like the rest of the country the district has a semi-arid climate with summer rainfall. The potential evapo-transpiration is more than the mean annual rainfall (500-550mm). The rainfall season for the district is from November to March. The eastern part of the district receives more rainfall than the western part. (Southern district development plan 6:2003-2009).

Vegetation

This is a district that contains both hardveld and sandveld ecological zones. The hardveld is a flat grazing land, described as woodland and savannah. Dominant species are varieties of acacia and cobretum spp. Mixed farming system is dominant in the, area with both livestock and arable agriculture. The soils in the hardveld are the most fertile and are adequate for cultivation, combining as they are with the mean annual rainfall of 500-550mm

The sandveld is a flat savannah, with vegetation mainly consisting of different acacia species. The sandveld area is generally used for extensive grazing of livestock and wildlife. The soils are generally not suitable for cultivation and rainfall is much lower (300-550mm) and more erratic than in the in the hardveld area.

Water

The district relies on ground water for human and livestock consumption. There are few dams in the district that are able to hold water throughout the year, such as Moshupa and Mmakgodumo dams. The rivers in the district are ephemeral (short lived; last a very short time). (Southern District Development Plan 6:2003-2009).

WHAT TO KEEP

This district boast 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 breeds that can perform well in this region for meat producers.

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

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:

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 tapewormcysticerus 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:

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

ü 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 deworming 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 presences of predators such as;

  • jackals,
  • wolves,
  • 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.

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.

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!