Small Stock Farming: The Imperatives

Nichlas Mbingeneeko

The previous article focused on mitigating the effects of the drought. This article will focus on preparing small stock for showcasing or participation in agricultural shows. The showcasing of livestock or participation of livestock in agricultural shows is a strategic marketing imperative.

The presentability of livestock during agricultural shows and their phenotypic appearance are sine qua nons for effective marketing. In the end, the best animal must win the agricultural show competition.

Therefore, in this article tips will be shared with small stock exhibitors on how best to prepare livestock for agricultural shows. The same preparation applies equally to the preparation of small stock for production auctions.

It is imperative for the farmer or breeder to look after the lamb or kid from the date of conception, after birth and during all the stages of growth until marketing or death. The dam (ewe) must maintain good health and a conducive body condition during the kidding or lambing season and beyond.

The welfare of the ewes, lambs and kids is thus indispensable at all times. The farmer or breeder needs to maintain stud livestock throughout the year and only feed them appropriately closer to the agricultural shows. In a nutshell, animal health, proper feeding, adequate water supply and proper handling presuppose animal welfare.

Experience proved that about three months are sufficient for feeding sheep for agricultural shows, whereas about four months are needed to feed goats for agricultural shows. The feeding program for goats and sheep may include pellets and Rangeland Grower. Feeding on pellets and Rangeland Grower exclusively may cause over- or undershot jaw (‘bekke wat loop’), particularly in goats.

Therefore, farmers and breeders are advised to add lucerne and camelthorn pods to the diet of goats and sheep so as to arrest the problem of over- or undershot jaw. In addition, normal grass bales work well for feeding sheep. Nota Bene: The problem of over- or undershot jaw may result from inappropriate diet.

Alternatively, the problem of over- or undershot jaw may result from heredity or heritability. Heredity or heritability relates to the passing on of genetic traits from the parent to offspring. Caveat emptor: Let the buyer beware. Do proper inspection prior to buying livestock so as to avoid buying livestock with cull defects. A cull defect is regrettably a disqualification.

Prior to the commencement of the feeding program for goats and sheep for agricultural shows, the farmer or breeder needs to kick off with an animal health program. The animal health program starts with the inoculation or injection of goats and sheep with Ovi-Clos P or Multivax P or One Shot Ultra 7, followed by oral and injectable dosing after one week or two weeks.

The inoculation of the goats and sheep with vitamins and minerals is an absolute necessity. The dipping of show livestock is also a vital imperative. Also, inoculate goats with Glanvac 3 so as to safeguard them against abscesses as they mingle with other goats during agricultural shows.

The breeder or farmer needs to ascertain that the animals are show-ready in terms of their level of fatness (not lean), ewes that are required to be pregnant are pregnant or have pregnancy certificates, all the small stock selected for showcasing do not have cull defects, and that the handlers are skilled and dressed appropriately.

Additionally, the breeder or farmer needs to ascertain that the selected animals fall under different show classes.

Ordinarily, the trimming of hooves of goats and sheep must be done on a monthly basis, particularly in sandy farming areas. However, the trimming of goats and sheep for agricultural shows must be done two weeks prior to the show date so as to avoid any limping of livestock due to inadvertent mistake in hoof trimming.

Furthermore, the breeder or farmer needs to attend to the horns of the goats for ‘beautification’ purposes. The breeder or farmer needs to comb the hair of the goats properly for the hair to satisfy the requirement of short, glossy hair. In addition, the breeder or farmer needs to be skilled in the use of the scissors so as to shear the hair of goats on specific parts of the body, such as the forehead, neck, top line, tail, etc, for ‘beautification’ purposes.

The sheep generally only require the breeder or farmer to pay attention to the hair for reasons of fostering the short, glossy hair. The inoculation of goats and sheep with Vitamin A also contributes to short, glossy hair. Wool sheep such as the Dorper must be shorn (with shearing machine) about two months before the show.

In sum, all the breeders and farmers that participate in agricultural shows need to be well-versed with all the intricacies of selecting and preparing small stock for agricultural shows so as to select and prepare livestock appropriately. Everything being equal, a conducive environment will prevail within which the best animals will ultimately emerge victorious. Die beste dier moet wen.

Consequently, the ‘crowned’ best animals will set the requisite standard of the ideal quality for compliance by all ambitious breeders and farmers. Superior quality enhances the marketability of and the demand for such livestock. Modern farming is in a state of flux with ever increasing demands.

All farmers and breeders must undoubtedly embrace superior quality when sourcing livestock for farming and breeding purposes.

This article represents my last input in a series of articles that focused on the strategic imperatives for small stock farming.

It remains my expectation that small stock breeders and farmers who read and internalized all my articles to date have been capacitated to, inter alia, be able to develop and implement a mating and lambing/kidding program for small stock; minimize, if not eliminate, casualties or fatalities during and after lambing/kidding; embrace best practices in respect of small stock hygiene and welfare; know when and where to market small stock for best prices; appreciate and create genetic value in small stock farming; reduce, if not eliminate, fatalities during severe droughts; prepare small stock appropriately for agricultural shows; and manage small stock farming commercially and sustainably.

Armed with the requisite knowledge and skills as well as passion for farming and breeding in pursuit of creating genetic value in small stock farming, all the farmers and breeders are herewith urged to walk the talk in respect of genetic value creation. We shall only walk the talk by acquiring small stock of superior genetic value.

You are, therefore, herewith cordially invited to attend the Ubuntu Annual Production Auction (onsite & online) on 13 June 2024 @ 18h00, in Windhoek, Agra/Bank Windhoek Ring, Namibia, and acquire stud goats and sheep of your choice.

In conclusion, I herewith express my profound gratitude and appreciation to Mr Lazarus Jacobs for availing the Windhoek Observer as a conduit for conveying a plethora of strategic imperatives in respect of small stock farming to the readers in general and the farming fraternity in particular. I thank you all. May God bless.

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 Goats, Damara Sheep and the Veldmaster Sheep. If you subscribe to genetic superiority, make Skuilhoek Stud your supplier of choice. Nichlas Mbingeneeko wrote this article in his personal capacity.

Related Posts