Mzansi Agriculture Talk

Agriculture

Getting your animal through winter

The High Value Beef Partnerships (High VBP) is gearing its livestock farmers to brace for the coldest winter. 

This is an Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) based funded programme working with the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) and state entities, which aims to improve on-farm animal health, nutrition, management and breeding systems. 

“This is to enable smallholder farmers to cost-effectively deliver high-value, free-range beef, whilst simultaneously improving their natural resource base” said its project leader Dr Baldwin Nengovhela. 

As part of its rangeland research, the High VBP developed a rangeland monitoring system known as the Veld Condition Assessment (VCA) and has taken to provide monthly farmer tips on getting through winter. 

With veld quality conditions lowering due to the winter, there were fears that the estimated 1.6 smallholder farmers animals may lose weight drastically. COVID-19 also further exacerbated contact with farmers leaving a window of despair. 

“To get the animals through winter without letting them lose weight, farmers must provide a winter-lick to their cattle. To this end, products like Premix 450 (Voermol) or Winlick 50 (Molatek) can be used. These products are mixed with maize meal” said Klaas Jan Leeuw of the Agricultural Research Council (ARC). 

During this period, calves that were no longer allowed to drink milk, go through a period of stress that reduces gain for a month or even lose weight. 

“To limit this, leave the calves in the paddock and remove the cows. Best practice will be to put the cows in an adjacent camp where the calves can’t get to. There will be still some sniffing contact, this method will reduce stress in calves and limit period of weight loss” added Klaas Jan Leeuw. 

The VCA and monthly farmer tips is only available to farmers registered with the High VBP. To get more information visit – https://www.highvbp.co.za/about-hvbp/ 

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Mzansi Agriculture Talk.

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