Tony Ndoro, African Farming’s new presenter, is keen to get to grips with the challenges farmers face countrywide. Considering the past season’s unusually heavy rains, he spoke to Vleissentraal’s guest speaker Louis Steyl, the CEO of Bonsmara SA, about the influence of weather patterns on the livestock trade.
Farmers are reliant on favourable weather to get their crops successfully grown and harvested, and to provide good grazing for their animals.
Auction houses want maximum value for their farmers and Vleissentraal is no exception.
“The weather has a big influence on livestock farmers, who must be grass farmers before they are cattle farmers,” says Steyl. The past season’s high rainfall has increased the carrying capacity of the veld – a natural grazing resource for livestock farmers.
When the capacity of the veld increases because of good rains, there is a greater demand for animals and prices go up, bringing business to farmers and auction houses. “This is the picture we’ve seen since the drought broke three years ago,” he explains.
Along with the rain, however, comes a host of parasite-borne diseases that can wipe out the gains that good rains bring. In a wet season, farmers must be extra-diligent when it comes to livestock health management.
“We’ve seen many cases of lumpy skin disease this season, and Rift Valley fever is another scare. In the communal areas, where herd health is not always up to date, disease outbreaks after very wet weather can cause major losses in herds,” Steyl warns.
His best advice is to take advantage of the increased capacity of the veld after a wet season but remain alert to the possibilities of drought. For more information about Vleissentraal visit www.vleissentraal.co.za