August brings warmer, windy and dry weather – and also veld fires. Farmers must ensure that the correct fire breaks have been done, that their fire-fighting equipment is in good order, fire drills are rehearsed and that there is good system in place in the district for a rapid, combined response to veld fires. Move livestock to safer areas and make plans to evacuate them in the event of fire. Should animals be caught in veld fires, they need to be evaluated for treatment or humane euthanasia contact the local vet, SPCA, or NSPCA, for advice and assistance.
Although good and even excessive rains have fallen in many areas to the north, this is not true for most of the Western, Eastern and Northern Cape Provinces. Animal numbers are down and there are therefore less surplus animals to be sold, with lower incomes for farmers. Breeding cows and ewes have or should have been culled to the minimum, to allow for the recovery of herd and flock numbers without sacrificing quality, which may take several years. Read more …
Die volgehoue en aansienlike bydrae van
ter bevordering van die welsyn van plaasdiere word hiermee met groot waardering erken
At a prestigious ceremony held on the 24th October 2017 awards were handed to our to winners in 4 categories, as listed below.
CONGRATULATIONS TO THE WINNERS
Category “Young Researcher” – Ms Motshabi Mokolobate
Category ” Outstanding Contribution” – Prof Michiel Scholtz
Category “Veteran Researcher” – Prof Gareth Bath
Category ” Research Project” – Ms Hester Vermeulen and Team
Gareth Bath, Chair LWCC
“Going the extra mile” is based on a biblical phrase (Matthew) that urges us to do more than just the bare minimum. This is as true of caring for sheep as it is for everything else of value. How often have we heard the sage advice from a farmer after a lifetime that is crowned with success, in spite of every obstacle: “Look after your sheep, and they will look after you”. But what does going the extra mile mean for sheep flocks? By doing nothing, we can only expect nothing, and by doing the minimum we will not get much more, other than perhaps staying out of trouble. Consumers of wool, meat and other products definitely expect care that exceeds the bare minimum. Animals that are well cared for will repay this kindness. Are we proud of the way our animals are handled, fed and bred? Can we show everything that we do on the farm to our town cousins without feeling apologetic or defensive? Most farmers are proud of their livestock and try to do the right things, so what can be done to go that extra mile?
Are the kraals and crushes safe, is water available, is there any shade, is there good flooring or does it become a mud bath after rain? None of these will kill the sheep, but could we do better?
Are all the procedures that are done really necessary, or do we do things like castration just because that’s what has always been done? Are they done at the right time, with proper equipment, by well trained staff? Do we take every precaution to prevent things going wrong? Do staff know that with sheep, silence does not mean content? Just because sheep don’t protest and bleat (like goats) does not mean they are not suffering. It is possible to do the most disgraceful things to sheep if their silence is misunderstood.
Do farm workers understand the behavior of sheep, how to handle them, and move them between paddocks? Is transporting animals done in ways that minimize chances of injury or suffering?
Is feed supply adequate for requirements at each stage of production? There have been many good articles over the years in Wool Farmer on veld management, crop residue utilization, pastures and supplements, but their adaption for implementation on each farm needs careful consideration by farmers and advisors. Poor feeding means poor breeding – and just about everything else. Provision for droughts is a good example of going the extra mile. Farmers with good plans came out of the last serious drought with the least damage.
The extra care needed at mating, during pregnancy and lactation is costly but the returns justify the expense. Beyond good production and profits, we also create good welfare – less disease, more and healthier lambs, better growth and more contented animals.
Using the right type of sheep for the farming environment means not just a better return on investment, but also a balanced sheep with lower costs, less susceptible to poor production and disease. A good example is wool sheep bred for resistance to wire worm – they need far less treatment but still produce well and do not suffer the effects of the parasite. This is not a theoretical concept, it is already being implemented by leading farmers.
Buying the wrong kind of sheep for the circumstances is bad enough, but even worse is buying sheep carrying a disease that can affect the whole flock. Apart from monetary considerations this imposes avoidable suffering in the flock.
PLANS AND PROGRAMMES:
Annual threats to production, profit and animal welfare include infectious diseases, parasites and plant poisons. Each one will require surveillance, monitoring, prevention and amelioration. Disasters like fires, floods and droughts also deserve consideration, review and revision on a frequent basis. Prevention is the first and most important protection against harm, but we also need well thought-out plans of what to do if and when disaster strikes, and how to minimize damage to the animals.
WHAT TO DO, AND WHERE TO START:
Farmers are busy people and can’t do everything, certainly not in one year. So, it is better to draw up a list of things that need improvement, and then prioritise them. Rather do a few things well than many things badly. Keep that list in sight and make sure that at least some items can be ticked off the list every year. Pride in these improvements will be justified and farmers are entitled to feel that they’ve gone the extra mile for their livestock that live a happier and more contented life, as well as produce more for the benefit of those who depend on the farm for a livelihood.
“Disclosure of complaints made to the Respondent (the National Council of SPCAs) or local SPCAs could reasonably be expected to prejudice the future supply of similar information from persons wishing to remain anonymous and that it is in the public interest that similar information continue to be supplied so as to further the Respondent’s statutory objective”.
Download the document HERE
Droughts are a seasonal occurrence in our Region and are predicted to become more intense in Southern Africa. The years when droughts are likely to occur are not really predictable far in advance. Livestock farmers should factor into their management plan in advance appropriate action/s they plan to institute in the event of a drought. Livestock farmers remain accountable for the welfare of their animals at all times and the animals should not bear the brunt of poor planning. It is totally unacceptable for livestock to starve to death which is cruel, slow, and totally avoidable.
Download the document HERE
What is LWCC?
Since 1978 the Livestock Welfare Coordinating Committee (LWCC) promotes welfare of livestock by participating in the drafting of informative material for all farmers, livestock transporters, abattoirs, sale yards, vending site and show-ground operators.
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