Farming issues with Mhlupheki Dube
LAST week, social media platforms on livestock were awash with very lucrative prices that were offered to breeders of both goats and cattle.
The prices were so high especially for small stock, setting new benchmarks and making many to review their reasons for not venturing into goat production.
What with a single boer buck going for $2 400! Cattle were not to be outdone with a Brahman bull asking for $8 300 at the national bull sale in Harare.
I even had the opportunity to attend a heifer auction in Bulawayo and the prices were cheap with one parcel of heifers which are barely weaners going for close to $500 each.
The common trend in all these cases is that one cannot doubt the quality of animals on offer.
This serves to reiterate that in a farm production system like in any other system there is no substitute for quality.
You produce quality stock you get quality offers.
In this regard therefore, we want to look at how goat producers can produce quality stock so that they can also ask for something in the region for the buck cited above.
In fact the mere reason the buyer was willing to invest that much in a buck is to infuse superior genetic and improve quality of his/her stock.
With regards to management practices one pertinent issue is to ensure that your goats are always in pristine condition.
As a farmer you need to de-worm your goats, a practice most smallholder farmers tend to take for granted.
It is important for farmers to use anthelmintics (de-wormers) to control internal parasites in goats. However, you need to know which parasites the chosen dosing chemical controls.
You also need to know what parasites are affecting your animals by performing a simple inspection on the different points on your goat which you suspect to be infected.
Also de-wormers need to be alternated to avoid building resistance on parasites.
This is one major problem with most smallholder farmers who tend to buy dosing chemicals based on the price rather than what it controls.
You find the farmer is always buying and using the same dosing remedy because it is always the cheapest on the market yet it may not be even the appropriate one to use on the particular parasites. In simple terms, price should not be the only determinant when choosing which de-wormer to buy.
Also while dosing chemicals can be used on both cattle it is better to use those ones which are clearly indicated for goats or sheep.
I know for example that Valbazen which is used for cattle does not control liver flukes while the one written for sheep and goats is also able to control liver flukes.
There are five points to check when you want to see if your goat has internal parasites.
The first one is the nose where a discharge may indicate the presence of nasal bot.
These are maggots which are usually harmless and are found in goats or sheep. Farmers may not even notice the presence of nasal bot because it usually causes no irritation to the animals. The second place to check is to look for a swollen jaw in your goats or sheep. This is an indication of infestation by wireworm or liver flukes. These can also be suspected if your animal is also showing anaemic eyes.
This means you need to check eyes of the goats or sheep that you suspect to be infected.
The fourth check is by general appraisal of the body condition.
An animal which is heavily infested with internal parasites invariably loses condition and has general poor thrift as compared to others within the same flock.
A loss in condition does not, however, indicate to a specific type of parasite because all parasites will eventually lead to loss of condition.
Finally farmers need to check the tail and it usually gets dirty with dung stick on the tail surfaces.
This is a clear indication of internal parasites in your goat or sheep and all types of parasites cause diarrhoea and subsequently a dirty tail.
Other observations such as a pot belly combined with poor condition or growth rate is usually an indication of tapeworm infestation.
It is important to note that dosing is just but one management practice to improve the quality of your stock.
There are other issues such as vaccinations and housing.
My take is that the value of livestock including small stock will increase exponential as the cash crisis persists, making many other investment avenues not viable. Many people are migrating towards keeping their value in livestock and the demand for both small stock and cattle will increase significantly. Farmers therefore need to position themselves to tap into this opportunistic demand which brings along premium prices. Uyabonga umntakaMaKhumalo.
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