A good fodder flow programme is crucial

Jeremia Mathebula was delighted to tell his story to Lindiwe Sithole, host of African Farming, during the seventh episode of Season 2. The issue of land in Africa is a complex one, but Mathebula’s success story of hard work and reconciliation could give so many subsistence farmers hope.

A good fodder flow programme is crucial in managing the health and profitability of a livestock herd. Farmers should make sure their animals have sufficient dry matter for their nutritional needs, because a constant supply of good-quality dry matter creates a solid foundation on which a farmer can ultimately increase economic efficiency. Fodder includes grazing, hay, silage and roots.

Dr Francois van de Vyver, National Technical Manager at Voermol Feeds, is impressed with the way Jeremia Mathebula manages his fodder flow to accommodate the increased number of livestock on his farm.

Mathebula started out with 10 cows and grew his business so much that he currently has hundreds of hectares to manage. Sithole wanted to know more about the planning it takes for small farmers to become commercial farmers, especially with regard to fodder flow. 

“It is often difficult to step up in becoming a sustainable commercial farmer, but Mathebula did this really well,” Van de Vyver says.

“He asked for help and support when needed. He was not afraid, and he learnt from others – but, most importantly, he planned ahead and started looking at his grazing and crop fodder flow programme to make sure his livestock’s nutrient requirements were met at all times.” 

There are various phases of an animal’s production cycle that farmers should consider when doing fodder flow planning, Van de Vyver explains.

These phases are: 

• First phase – the calving season. “This season has the highest nutrient requirements of all the phases,” he says. 

• Reconception phase – “Farmers need to make sure an animal has enough nutrients to support her in getting pregnant and producing a calf per year.”

• Dry period – “This is the mid-pregnancy phase when an animal needs a lower amount of nutrients to help her recover her body condition score.”

• Late-pregnancy stage – “The animal needs to receive enough nutrients to help her prepare for the calving season,” Van de Vyver concludes.

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