Small Stock Farming: The Imperatives

The previous article focused on the marketing of commercial goats. The farmer needs to adopt a strategic approach to marketing. A strategic approach to marketing is, in a nutshell, informed by a strategic approach to mating and kidding. This article will focus on mitigating the effects of the drought. As a matter of course, the poor rainfall in most parts of Namibia has the propensity to engender fatalities of livestock due to drought occurring in varying degrees of severity. It is thus incumbent upon the farmer to employ resolute measures that would mitigate the effects of the drought.

First and foremost, the farmer needs to assess and quantify the available grazing. Thorough planning and swift action are imperative. The farmer is coerced to reduce the stocking rate on the farm to at least 70%. The farmer needs to sell all unproductive livestock and all castrated male livestock without any delay. Also, the farmer needs to rotate or move livestock quicker to other grazing. Speed and urgency in terms of decision-making and action are imperative in mitigating the effects of the drought.

During times of drought, the farmer needs to keep his or her livestock healthier than ever before. Administer Vitamin A and minerals. Treat livestock for internal and external parasites. When animals are healthy internally and externally and parasite-free, the little forage that nature provides or the limited feed that the farmer provides will be put to good use by heathy livestock. Very important: animal heath medicine is costly. Therefore, farmers are strongly advised to desist from delegating the inoculation or vaccination of livestock to their workers and do it themselves instead for reasons of efficacy or effectiveness. The health and welfare of livestock are the sine qua non for mitigating the effects of the drought on livestock.

Times of drought require the farmer to be around his livestock often. Thus the farmer needs to avoid any hobby that will divert his or her attention from his or her livestock so as to be able to spend more time with the livestock. The farmer needs to put a moratorium on the attendance of sport events. Where possible, the farmer needs to minimize the attendance of funerals and weddings as well as enjoyment parties.

Ordinarily, prices of livestock drop significantly during times of severe drought. Severe droughts are generally characterized by animals that are in an unmarketable condition. Therefore, the farmer is compelled to employ financial discipline in all respects. Financial discipline, in turn, compels the farmer (and the spouse) to, inter alia, spend any income from livestock sales wisely and sparingly, suspend all capital projects for the duration of the drought, avoid any new debt, and cut costs on luxuries & nice-to-haves.

During times of drought, all the farmers need to network, maintain a positive attitude and share experiences with fellow farmers. Farmers need to use the drought as a yardstick to select top livestock that withstood the drought for retention after the drought. Severe droughts necessitate that the farmers wean lambs or kids at the age of two to three months in order for the lactating ewes to survive. The lambs or kids require proper care and feeding upon weaning.

The next article will focus on preparing small stock for showcasing or for participating in agricultural shows.

Nichlas Mbingeneeko is a renowned small stock farmer and a stud breeder of repute. His stud known as Skuilhoek Stud (in Aranos district, Hardap Region) consists of the Boer Goat, Damara Sheep and the Veldmaster Sheep. If you subscribe to genetic superiority, make Skuilhoek Stud your supplier of choice. His next production auction will be on 13 June 2024 @ 18h00, in Windhoek, Agra/Bank Windhoek Ring, Namibia, onsite & online auction. Nichlas Mbingeneeko wrote this article in his personal capacity.

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