The lack of livestock sustaining grazing from the 2014/15 persistent drought compels farmers to destock ageing animals while they still attract good prices on the beef market. Given the endemic nature of the drought and related animal health risks, the best practice would be to cull old oxen and cows while retaining only seeding stock for future breeding and herd consolidation. As a contingent measure, farmers should begin salvaging and stockpile whatever available crop residue including animal nourishing grazing species, where applicable, the Acting Minister of Agriculture Patrick Ralotsia urged farmers.
Ralotsia said: “The 2014/15 season which has been disadvantaged with below average rainfall has resulted in the severe depletion of grazing. Unfortunately, the grazing condition will deteriorate as the season progresses. Cattle might even die. Therefore Livestock Advisory Services (LACs) becomes even more important in terms of providing basic livestock needs. We are committed to providing them so that farmers do not lose their livestock to lack of livestock feeds.
“Currently, we are struggling with veterinary measles outbreaks causing challenges in beef marketing. A strategy for beef measles eradication has been prepared. Therefore, we call on all the stakeholders to co-operate in order to overcome the animal health challenge, forthwith.”
The Acting Minister called on farmers to keep records as a best practice of transforming the farming practice into business enterprises. Proper record keeping would enable farmers to evaluate year-on-year performance of their farming businesses.