Livestock farmers, it’s time to activate ‘bad season’ protocols!

05 Dec, 2021 - 00:12 0 Views
Livestock farmers, it’s time to activate ‘bad season’ protocols!

The Sunday News

SIGNS of a very bad farming season are increasingly becoming vividly clear and there is nothing I would like than to be proven wrong on this.

We are already getting into the second week of December and not many places can claim to have received significant rains.

Most rivers are yet to flow and many places have received barely enough rains to put down seed on the ground.
It’s promising to be a very difficult agricultural season, against what weather forecasters had predicted.

They promised us a good rainfall season.

However, the import of this article is to implore farmers in general but livestock producers in particular to start dry season preparations now.

It’s going to be a very bumpy ride for the livestock farmers. To those that have followed agricultural season in Matabeleland region will agree with me that we get a good season after every four or five years and it’s not very common to have good seasons back to back! Here is what will stare you right on your face this season if things continue this way, dear livestock farmer.

The majority of us will have serious water challenges if rivers do not flow as this will mean our little dams will have no inflows as well.

Those that get to dig shallow river bed wells for themselves and their animals will have nothing as there will be very little or no water under the river bed.

This means livestock farmers, will need to think and plan how to deal with the impending water challenge for their animals if the situation persists like this.

Farmers may need right now to start identifying places with bigger dams that have water and start negotiating for relief grazing.

If it continues like this, it means by April we will be already in dry season and livestock farmers will be expected to begin supplementing animals.

In terms of the feed, livestock farmers also need to start preparing for it now. Start by taking out those animals which are susceptible to droughts, sell them and use the proceeds to procure stock feed for the remaining herd.

This is a very simple and common extension advice that is given to livestock farmers all the time, but very few take heed.

Reasons could be many as to why farmers ignore this basic extension advice but one of them could be to do with the fact that older cows tend to almost always have a calf on foot or they will be in calf by the time you want to sell them!
I have three old cows right now which have between three to four-month-old calves, selling them is not possible! However, there are old oxen and other non-productive animals which can be disposed if it’s not possible to sell the older cows.

Old animals succumb much easier to drought than younger ones hence the need to offload them and get revenue to procure stock feed and save the rest.

While Matabeleland is receiving no rains, some regions in high rainfall zones have received adequate rains and they will have plenty of grass for hay bales.

As livestock farmers let’s start organising ourselves around our social lines and go and get the hay bales for the dry season. In simpler terms let us prepare well in advance to procure and stockpile feed for our animals for difficult times might be coming ahead.

Believe you me it is not prudent to watch the signs signalling to a very bad season and sit and do nothing.

When the dry season comes, and it will come much earlier than usual if the current rainfall state persists, stock feed will be both scarce and extremely expensive.

There is nothing as painful as running around looking for unavailable feed, be it stock feed or simple hay bales. Start preparing now and have peace of mind when everyone else are losing their minds!
Uyabonga umntakaMaKhumalo.

-Mhlupheki Dube is a livestock specialist and farmer. He writes in his own capacity. Feed back [email protected]/cell 0772851275.

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