Farmers’ Diaries: Molefe Mahape

Molefe Mahape,
Sanddrift near Brits, North West

In Autumn, the days are becoming shorter and the nights and early mornings cooler. African Farming went to find out what our farmers are busy with at the start of Autumn.

We farm 130 breeding Boer goat ewes on 33ha and grow lucerne under irrigation. Because of the farm’s size, the goat operation is intensive and we produce feed to supplement their diet. There is 10ha of bush and planted kikuyu for grazing. At the moment we’re preparing for our breeding season, which is about to start.

We’ve just weaned the ewes that kidded in September and October last year. The norm for most goat farmers is to have two production cycles in one year, but I prefer a single breeding season.

We breed the goats in March to start kidding in September or October. We aim to sync our breeding season with the natural cycles. October is when animals give birth after the first rains, when trees are in leaf. In the Tswana language it is called diphalane (diphala di simolola go tsala), the time impalas start giving birth.

We give the goats Multivax Plus to prevent diseases such as pulpy kidney, tetanus, blackleg and clostridial metritis, and we vaccinate against enzootic abortion.

We also inject with Multimin or Ovi-Min, supplements that provide essential trace minerals for fertility, immunity and growth. Their regular diet consists of SS20 (100kg), Maxiwool (100kg), molasses (100kg), maize chop (600kg) and lucerne (8 bales) to make up one ton of feed.

We increase molasses and chop when we want to give the pregnant ewes more energy or when we want to fatten the animals. We are also testing the rams now before we run them with the ewes.

We have sold off our older rams and are looking out for two younger replacements. I have been going to breeders’ auctions and ja… Eish, rams don’t come cheap. But we must find rams so that we can put them to work immediately.

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