|Farmers urged to venture into small livestock production|
|Saturday, 18 August 2012 13:24|
Business ReporterFARMERS have been urged to rear small livestock like goats and poultry as these are drought-resistant and have a quick turnover especially in light of the loss of livestock to drought in the Matabeleland region.
Small livestock production involves piggery, poultry, rabbitry as well as goat and sheep production.
In an interview Matabeleland South Provincial chief livestock specialist Ms Simangaliphi Ngwabi said the turnover for small livestock is fast as animals like pigs, sheep and goats breed one and a half times a year hence they are profitable as compared to large stock like cattle.
“Small livestock can be easily handled by women and children and they are manageable as compared to cattle. This means that small livestock can actually improve the livelihoods of individuals as they are easy to own and sell,” she said.
Ms Ngwabi said goats can survive drought as they are browsers and do not feed on grass but sheep are sensitive grazers and pigs require heavy feeding.
An expert who spoke on condition of anonymity said small livestock will not only change the livelihoods of individuals but improve on nutrition and their impact is more due to their quick turnover.
“Even the poorest families in the region own goats. If taken seriously small livestock can impact heavily on the lives of people and with the drought in the region, they can bring about a positive change to livestock farmers,” he said.
Speaking on the crop and livestock assessment that was done in March in the Matabeleland South region, Ms Ngwabi said the worst is not yet over for livestock farmers as the period before the onset of rains is usually the worst.
“We are advising farmers with plenty of cattle to sell them before they die and use that money to buy stock feed. They can just hand feed the animals for survival,” she said.
The livestock specialist said the problem with relocating animals was that it is now oversubscribed.
She said there is too much pressure on the areas where the cattle are moved to.