How to manage feed deficiencies during a drought

Dr. Thapelo Makae from the animal health company, Elanco, shared his expert advice in the first episode of the television show African Farming. He expanded on how Clifford Mthimkulu, a successful commercial farmer near Senekal in the Free State, can improve the condition of his livestock during a period of drought.

Show host, Angie Khumalo, talked to Makae in studio. She recently visited Mthimkulu, who farms with livestock and crops near Senekal in the Free State, to learn first-hand the challenges of farming on dry land during a drought, particularly at the end of winter.

Khumalo noted that the veld has lost almost all its nutritional value, and that Mthimkulu has to ensure that his pregnant livestock still maintain their condition despite limited resources. Feeding animals is quite a science and makes a big difference to how much profit a farmer like Mthimkulu pockets.

Makae advised Mthimkulu to make sure his livestock has access to feed supplements such as salt blocks, especially during a drought or the dry season, to make sure the animals are still well nourished.

Mthimkulu, doesn’t sell his young animals to feedlots immediately, but rather fattens them up until they are ready to be slaughtered.

Makae highlighted the importance of a good animal health plan, that farmers like Mthimkulu should have in place. This will ensure that his animals maintain a healthy body condition score.

“When we talk about animal health, there are different aspects of it, which has to be properly managed to ensure that this farmer’s livestock are in prime condition and that his profit margins are good.”

Elanco specialises in offering products and services to veterinarians, farmers, and pet owners with a complete approach to animal health. The company’s mission is to empower those who raise and care for animals with a comprehensive set of animal health products and knowledge services to help them address the global challenges of a diverse and changing world.

Makae believes in having a good team of specialists, for example a trustworthy feed nutritionist, at hand to help Mthimkulu manage his livestock’s needs well. He said breeders should build a long-term relationship with specialists and think twice before making big changes to rations or abruptly change the diet of livestock.

“Farmers tend to change their livestock’s feed abruptly and that can have a negative impact on animals. Your animals might get sick. It is not possible to suddenly change a ruminant’s diet from the veld to concentrates feeds. One needs to slowly transition them to a new feed and make sure that the changes are absolutely necessary.”

He also mentioned the importance of a good vaccination programme, which is done in a timely fashion to prevent the outbreak of various diseases in a herd.

For information: Dr. Thapelo Makae,


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