Following their successful bench marking trip to South Africa late last year, Batswana ostrich farmers are determined to start operation of their businesses despite hardships the industry is likely to face.
The advice by their hosts while there has motivated them.
“One important aspect of this industry is research. This is because although we have lots of ostriches in the country, many of them are what is labeled ‘Black Zimbabwe’. We should have our own breed and this should be informed by research. In South Africa research led to cross breeding that led to improvement of bird species,” explained the chairperson of the Botswana Ostrich Farmers Association (BOFA), Thabo Mokwena.
BOFA members have resolved to adapt the intensive and breeding methods of ostrich farming from South Africa. Intensive farming refers to where the birds are fed in paddocks until they are ready for market. Breeding refers to breeding and producing chicks for the intensive farmers.
“We are really determined to start somewhere and; since I have a farm, I am willing to loan pieces of land in it to determined members of BOFA who still do not have their own plots for paddocks. Once we are started we can turn to government for support on expensive endeavors like research and utilisation of an abattoir. We already have a strategic plan which the government is assessing, so really it is time to start,” said Mokwena.
In further advocating for the importance of research, and referring to the ostrich manual they got while there he elucidated that commercial ostrich production is based largely on flocks that are mated in a male to female ratio of approximately 6:10 in large paddocks. The social behavior of ostriches renders it impossible to determine parentage under these conditions.
It is also impossible to determine the egg or chick-production of individual females. Indirect methods to determine egg production have been investigated, but in the long run there was no accuracy.
He pointed out the fact that it was possible to achieve progress by selecting the heaviest individuals as the parents of the next generation