The Sunday News
Dumisani Nsingo, Senior Farming Reporter
THE Department of Crop and Livestock is urging cattle producers to embark on selective de-stocking so as to guard against losing most of their animals to the effects of drought.
Department of Crop and Livestock Matabeleland North provincial agronomist Mr Davison Masendeke said owing to the advent of drought it was important for cattle producers to start selling their non-productive animals so as to generate substantial income to purchase stock feed for their productive head.
“It’s high time farmers with cattle do selective destocking so as to sell off non-productive animals, these include old animals and male marketable animals because grazing is poor at this time of the year and water supplies are getting lower. If farmers are to sell their animals now, they are likely to gain than when they are in poor conditions. For those in areas that received a bit of some showers they should assess their grazing and if it has increased they can guard against culling but they should make an informed decision,” he said.
He said farmers should utilise stovers from their failed maize crop to produce supplementary feed for their animals.
“For those that didn’t get any maize yield, it’s important for them to cut down all the stover while it still has nutrients in it and store it under a shed which doesn’t allow rainfall and sun into it. Basically they can use that to feed their livestock during the winter season,” said Mr Masendeke.
Matabeleland North provincial livestock specialist Mr Admore Chikowa reiterated Mr Masendeke’s sentiments stating that farmers should cull old-aged and non-productive animals to save grazing for the productive and growing stock head.
“Farmers should cull old-aged and non-productive stock to save grazing for the productive and growing stock with the proceeds from the sale being used to buy stock feed for supplementing cows and heifers in calf and those with calves at foot. However, farmers should guard against selling cows and steers in poor conditions because they will fetch less thus the need to condition and sell directly to high value markets, avoiding middlemen at all costs,” he said.
Mr Chikowa said it was essential for farmers to utilise crop residue for the production of their own feed as well as dosing their animals to enhance their condition.
“Farmers should strategically use crop residue to produce their own feed and make sure they also dose their animals for internal parasites for effective feed utilisation because internal parasites compete for the same nutrients that the body requires,” he said.