Quality and biosecurity ensures successful livestock management

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

The Limpopo Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (LDARD) recently held a livestock farmer’s day that offered a wealth of information for especially emerging livestock producers.

Keleemetse Makgopela, assistant director of advisory services at the department, opened the proceedings and informed those present that this beef cattle management focussed event will henceforth be hosted annually. The aim is to provide guidance on important topics such selling or buying cattle at auctions, disease management, bull selection and biosecurity. He thanked the sponsors, Karan Beef, Standard Bank, Virbac, VKB and Molatek, for assisting and equipping producers with the correct information and tools.

Bull selection is key to profitability

Paul van Vuuren, auctioneer at Andre Kock en Seun auction house, spoke about bull selection which included an interesting physical demonstration. Van Vuuren explained which physical traits to look for when purchasing a bull at an auction or sale. He advised looking at, among others, the sheath of the animal and its muscle development as this will indicate whether the animal is from good genetic stock.

The focus must always be on top quality cattle, as quality genetics will ensure better long-term rewards. Van Vuuren added that, when attending auctions, farmers should feel free to ask the marketers at the auction for assistance in this regard.

Don’t forget biosecurity

Van Vuuren followed his discussion on bull selection by addressing the importance of biosecurity. He said the biosecurity protocols that have been put in place, are aimed at the safety of the livestock as well as humans. He stressed the importance of following biosecurity protocols such as the spraying of vehicles upon entering and exiting a facility, and keeping record of people and animals entering and exiting a facility.

Given the recent outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) and its consequences, it is important to adhere to the protocols; South Africa needs to regain its FMD-free status in order to export livestock.

Healthy animals

Barco van Niekerk, cattle buying co-ordinator at Karan Beef, provided information on the Karan Beef Academy. It is a free digital platform where producers can access information on disease management, knowledge of the cattle market, and cattle marketing strategies. Van Niekerk said the academy is the company’s contribution to assisting emerging producers and providing them with the best tools.

There is a resurgence of the tickborne disease, redwater. This disease can, however, be controlled through proper vaccination. Dr Mgabadeli Ncube, a veterinarian at Onderstepoort Biological Products (OBP), said during his presentation that producers must monitor their livestock in order to detect symptoms timeously. He recommended dipping along with the use of vaccines.

To learn more about biosecurity in South Africa.

Land reform procedures

Land reform is still a hot topic with set procedures to follow. Dr Mukovhe Nthai, director of strategic land acquisition at LDARD, explained the department’s procedure regarding land reform in the Limpopo province. Dr Nthai said the department has identified the Waterberg district as a suitable beef cattle production area and will therefore purchase beef cattle farms in that area.

He explained that the department doesn’t simply allocate these farms but invites suitable and proven livestock producers to apply to farm on this land. This is done through an advertisement. Dr Nthai added that there is a set of strict requirements such as a branding certificate and proof of branded livestock that must be included in every application. Sigqibo Mfuywa, director of the Waterberg district at the Agricultural Research Council (ARC), explained how the ARC can assist producers to connect with the right stakeholders and receive the correct guidance in respect of their livestock operations. By providing expert guidance, emerging producers will be able to farm more profitably and efficiently. – By Phillip Crafford, Plaas Media

Visit the Plaas/Farm TV YouTube channel for a feedback video of the day’s events. For more information on the farmer’s day, email Kele Makgopela at keleemetse@gmail.com.

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