16 Tuesday 15 May 2018 NEW ERA FARMERS FORUM Nguni cattle prove viable in feedlot study •Staff Reporter WINDHOEK – Independent studies have now once and for all answered the million-dollar question whether it is viable to feed Nguni cattle profitably in feedlots. Ngunis are the favourites of Namibian communal farmers for their low production cost and ability to market a good grade carcass off the veld. Feedlots prefer medium- to late-maturing breeds and discriminate against Nguni cattle, which is an early maturing breed. They pay less per kilogram live mass than for other breeds. Major feedlots are either not accepting Nguni weaner calves or pay significantly less for them. Farm Namibgrens operates as a full economically working Nguni cattle farm. Nguni cattle, which were introduced to Southern Africa by the Zulu people, are indigenous Nguni not inferior… Ngunis grazing on farm Namibgrens in Khomas Hochland. A study has concluded that Nguni cattle can be fed profitably in feedlots and that they can compete with other cattle breeds. Photo: Contributed to Africa and require little or no human intervention to thrive. They are known by their resistance to disease and high fertility. Nguni hides are extremely popular because of their colours and variety of patterns. The Zulus have over 300 words to describe the colours of their cattle. “Izinpugane ebisini” means “flies in the milk”, the name given to a white skin with small black spots. Another interesting name given to the mottled skin with marks and colours resembling the eggs of the Crowned Plover is “Amaqanda we titiyoya”. Patterns on the cow hides also serve as inspiration for many folk tales and analogies with night skies and life. The aim of the latest study by the Nguni Cattle Breeders Society SA was to determine the most suitable ration and performance for Nguni calves under feedlot conditions. The trial was run at Sernick feedlot, near Edenville in SA. Two hundred Nguni young male calves were sourced from 24 breeders from five provinces and divided into four groups of 50 each. Each group was fed a different feeding regime: starter (high roughage), grower (medium roughage), finisher (low roughage) and a feedlot grower commercial (low roughage) ration. They were backgrounded in the pre-conditioning phase for 32 days and received ad lib Eragrostis grass. After 105, 120 and 135 days these calves were slaughtered when they reached acceptable carcass subcutaneous fat classification (A2) according to their weight, body condition and visual appearance. The most important findings of the study were that given adherence to some basic conditions, Nguni cattle can be fed profitably in feedlots and results indicate that the precondition for minimum weights to be considered at arrival (or at the end of preconditioning or backgrounding) to be close to 200kg with an absolute minimum of 180kg for profitable. Epukiro auction on tomorrow as animals’ movement ban is uplifted •Kae MaÞunÿu-Tjiparuro WINDHOEK - None could sigh a big sigh of relief than the president of the Eastern Epukiro Farmers Association (EEFA), as indeed all the farmers in the communal areas of Epukiro, Eiseb, Otjinene and Otjombinde (Rietfontein) in the Omaheke Region. This is following the uplift of the ban on the movement of animals, following the sighting of a buffalo in the village of Ovye in the Eiseb communal area on May 1. But to the relief of the farmers the buffalo was traced a day after its sighting and killed. Also it has been established that the dreaded Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) did not infect it. The killing of the buffalo is a great relief especially to EEFA’s president, Katjinduu Tjahuha, who since assuming the reigns of the farmers’ association last May, has been vigorously campaigning for the phasing out of the livestock prices depressing permit system in the constituency to be replaced by auctions. This is because at any permit there is only a single buyer at a time and thus there’s no competition among buyers. In this way, buyers determines livestock prices at will hence the depression in the prices of livestock in most communal areas, Epukiro included. In this regard an auction is taking place tomorrow at the village of Otjiwarongo in the Epukiro Constituency. Auctions have been a rare occurrence in the constituency because of the permit system that has been consistently dominating the livestock market in the constituency, as indeed in many communal areas in various regions of the country like Erongo, Kunene, Otjozondjupa and indeed Omaheke. But the sighting of the buffalo in Eiseb has been threatening this auction in Epukiro because of the subsequent ban of the movement of animals in the said areas of the Omaheke. For many parenting farmers in these communal areas the unbanning of the movement of animals also comes as a great relief, a week or so before they must send their children back to school. Tjahuha says in this regard the auction tomorrow is very much on course with the animals expected to be in the auction pens today for selling tomorrow. He says with the buyers expecting close to 400 animals or more, he expect farmers to supersede this number by far with individual farmers having registered to sell between 50 and 100 animals each. Since getting the assurance from auctioneering agencies about this auction, Tjahuha has been appealing to farmers to bring animals in good numbers to show auctioneers that auctions must be the in-thing onwards in the constituency due to the sufficient supply of animals. Meanwhile, close to two months of the banning of the movement of animals in the Okakara Constituency after the sighting of a buffalo in the village of Okarui, this ban remains in force. This is because the buffalo has never been found. An emergency meeting of all farming stakeholders in the constituency was convened yesterday by constituency councillor to discuss this vexed question but by the time of going to print its outcome could not be established. Farmers urged to maintain healthy livestock in winter •Staff Reporter WINDHOEK – The dry season is upon farmers and with it comes a new set of Challenges for every livestock producer. The dry season stretches from May until the end of October, and the most difficult period is from August until October when the nutritional value of natural grazing is at its lowest, and cows are in their final trimester of pregnancy. It is during this period that livestock suffer most from nutritional deficiencies because of a drop in the nutritional value of natural grazing. Jethro Kwenani, communication officer at the Meat Corporation of Namibia (Meatco), says colder temperatures raise nutrient requirements of both cows and calves. Consequently, the extra high-quality feed may be necessary to help livestock maintain their core body temperatures and keep the immune system functioning properly. “If grazing is not supplemented during winter, an animal’s production and fertility rate declines. Not only does the animal become stunted, if it is pregnant, it is unable to carry to term or raise offspring to maturity,” says Kwenani. Namibia is an extensive livestock production country with the sector divided into two major groupings, namely the commercial sector with privately owned farms, and a large communal sector. “Winter supplementation is not new regardless of the farmer’s operations. In the past, crop residues were used to feed livestock in winter, but as time went by some farmers began to treat crops with urea to improve protein content,” he notes. He says the primary aim of a winter lick is protein supplementation (mostly NPN, although in sandy areas P is included at a maintenance level). By law, such a supplement provides an equivalent of 150g of crude protein per day to cattle. Maize meal or hominy chop is used in winter lick to cause a pH-drop in the rumen for slower urea release. Intake is regulated with salt. The protein in the lick sustains rumen micro-organisms, improving the digestibility of the pasture. Namibia is an extensive livestock producing country with a relatively low and highly variable rainfall. Due to this, the nutrient content and availability of the natural pastures fluctuate from year to year and between the wet and dry season. The wet season starts in November/December and continues until March/April, with January and February receiving the highest precipitation. “It is important to note that among Namibia’s livestock, we have grazers (for example, cattle) and browsers (for example, goats). Since bushes contain more nutrients than grass, grazers tend to suffer greater nutritional deficiencies compared to browsers during this period,” says Kwenani. Typical licks used in Namibia are winter, summer and production licks. Their use is advocated in both farming sectors, since the benefits have been proven over many years. Unfortunately, communal farmers are reluctant to use the licks as prescribed due to the high initial costs and because an immediate benefit is not always visible and advantages are only recognised later. Still, farmers who invest in lick supplements get their money’s worth through higher production and the fertility of their livestock. “Keep in mind that licks are only used to supplement the most limited nutrients. It is important to keep animals on the pasture and not to substitute pasture with lick,” Kwenani concludes. W i n t e r t i m e challenges… Animals licking and grazing in a dry winter e n v i r o n m e n t . Farmers are urged to take good care of their animals from now until September. Photo: Contributed
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