Animal care equals higher profit margins

Aviwe Gxotiwe, a third-generation farmer from the Eastern Cape, is first and foremost a business owner rather than a traditional farmer. Although he treasures the mentorship of his father, he believes in pushing himself and his family by introducing new ideas to expand the business. He takes Lindiwe Sithole, host of African Farming Season 2, on a tour of the farm and explains his vision to her. 

“Gxotiwe is a businessman at heart whose focus is on business development,” Lindiwe says, “but he also faces an array of challenges, especially when it comes to livestock theft, and access to capital.” This young farmer believes delivering quality products to the market drives profit in the end. “We run a very good animal welfare programme to make sure our sheep are in top condition,” he says. 

Dr Thapelo Makae, a veterinarian with Elanco, says farming can be unpredictable. “Every region has its own disease profile. It is crucial for farmers to understand this when establishing animal welfare programmes that address all the animal health challenges that can be identified in their region.”

Pulpy kidney (enterotoxaemia) is a disease affecting sheep that farmers should look out for. Pulpy kidney occurs when a bacterium that normally inhabits the animal’s intestines without causing problems begins to multiply and produce a toxin that poisons the animal. “This usually happens when there are sudden and drastic changes in the diet of sheep,” Dr Makae says, “and it could be deadly to the sheep.” It is a disease that can be managed by vaccination.

According to him, a farmer should also establish a good deworming programme, covering all the basis of intestinal parasites such as hookworm, liver fluke and tapeworm. “It is important to do regular health checks to detect whether there are any intestinal parasites plaguing the animals.”

Dr Makae adds that farmers should expand their networks to learn more about these health issues. “We encourage you to talk to experts in your neighbourhood. Regularly connecting to other farmers and veterinarians will help you to improve your knowledge about intestinal parasites and therefore help you to identify parasites and treat your animals early” 

Elanco™ helpline: 0861 777 735

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