Botswana

Cattle feeding essential for drought

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The Veterinary and Animal Health office in Selebi Phikwe has urged livestock farmers to take precautionary measures during the drought season that has impacted negatively on the country to avoid losing their livestock to the harsh climatic and natural environment conditions.

Dr Kingdom Tshireletso from the office which is responsible for disease control in Zone 7, commonly known as Bobirwa Sub- district said that his department was involved in the assessment of grazing and cattle conditions in the area and it has been concluded that the area has been hit by drought and grazing conditions in the Sub district are not adequate.

He said during drought season farmers are bound to encounter high mortality in their stock, reduced weight gain in livestock resulting in unmarketable animals, reduced fertility which will affect the farmer’s ability to breed his or her animals. Further, farmers will also experience shortage of water for their livestock.

He advised farmers to sell extra animals and leave a reasonable herd size for easy management.

He said the move is also expected to reduce challenge on the availability of grass for grazing.

“Farmers can sell their cattle to butcheries and also to the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) through quarantine entries.

The BMC is buying cattle at 23/kg all categories,” he said encouraging farmers to offload some of their cattle.

He said funds raised through sale of livestock could be used to take care of left over livestock by purchasing feed and supplements.

“Farmers are therefore encouraged to feed their animals with feeds such as Corse salt, Wheat bran and DCP to help them withstand the harsh grazing conditions the country is currently experiencing.

The feeds have been subsidized at livestock advisory centers and the prices are as follows; Corse salt – P36.30,DCP – P186.80 and Wheat bran –P31.40,”he said.

He said all animal feeds have been subsidized to give a chance to farmers to purchase feed for their livestock to make it through the drought.

Meanwhile the chairman of Mmadinare District Agriculture Show Mr Joseph Seipato who is also a cattle farmer, urged farmers who have the means to farm and produce cattle feed such as lab-lab to feed their livestock during drought.

He said it only takes three weeks for the lab-lab to be ready for harvest and to be given to livestock, though the country is experiencing less rain.

He advised cattle farmers to grind field-crop residues (letlhaka) to feed livestock during drought seasons.

He also shared the same views as Dr Tshireletso indicating that farmers should purchase cattle feed and supplements from retailers such as BAMB to feed their cattle, however he noted that they should mix the supplements with grinded crop residues to give livestock a boost.

“Giving supplement gives cattle strong bones and strength to get through the drought season,” he said.

He advised Batswana in general to take cattle feed farming very serious to feed and sustain their livestock during tough times.

He also mentioned that producing cattle feed in general has potential to bring income for those who want to venture in the business.

Mr Seipato also advised farmers to keep a certain number of cattle they will be able to manage and sell the rest.

He said they should sell cattle that cannot reproduce, oxen and use the funds to purchase cattle feed and supplements and administer them to the livestock to survive the drought.

“There is no need to keep a high number of cattle.

For instance if a person has 100 cattle, they should sell 40 and use the funds to maintain the left over cattle throughout the drought by purchasing cattle feed, supplements, and medicine.

If farmers have few cattle, then they are forced to plough the field and produce cattle feed and also use grinded crop residues to feed their livestock,” he said urging farmers to purchase their own crop residue grinding machine sold by local manufacturer. Ends