The heritage of our region and people is closely tied to the farming of livestock. In South Africa as a whole, the poorest communal areas are home to half the cattle in the country worth almost R50 billion. Yet low birth rates and high death rates mean that communities like ours are not seeing their wealth grow. In fact in many cases, livestock wealth is shrinking. A quick census we performed at the end of 2016 showed that the calving rate of our cows is less than 10% per year, which is incredibly low when compared to the 70% rate which commercial farmers regard as a minimum to have a viable business. The figures for our goats and sheep are similarly dismal.
With this in mind, the BI has launched a small program to assist farmers in ensuring that their animals get the minimum treatment and inoculations at a low cost. The BI assist buy buying the medication in bulk and each village has elected a committee to manage the distribution of the medication at cost price. By buying the medication in bulk and then dividing it into small doses, we have brought the costs down dramatically to a level where it costs R8 per year to treat goats and sheep and R35 per year to treat the cattle.
Since launching this project in December our livestock have shown a dramatic improvement and there is a lot of optimism that we will see an increase in the calving rates.
We have also partnered with the local Department of Agriculture to improve practices at the local dipping tank and here too there has been a dramatic reduction in the number of ticks aflicting our animals.
We hope that this project will receive financial support in future which will allow our community to fence off designated grazing camps to allow the grass to grow to a nutritious length and thus further improve the condition of our animals. Fee free to contact us if you think you can help!