Farmers’ Diaries: Mthunzi Ntutela

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.

SHEEP – Mthunzi Ntutela, Tsomo, Eastern Cape

I farm Merino sheep for wool in communal areas. At this time of year we are preparing our pregnant ewes for the lambing season in June and July.

Part of this preparation is dosing for worms, particularly for tapeworm, which is prevalent here. I prefer to use broadspectrum dewormers like Prodose Orange or Eradiworm Plus, as these products also control other internal parasites like liver fluke and nasal bots. Because of a wetter-than-usual season, we are experiencing a bluetongue outbreak.

This is also the result of many farmers not following a proper animalhealth programme, which would include vaccination. We are in the communal setup and it can be exceedingly difficult for us to contain such an outbreak.

Luckily, I vaccinate against bluetongue from October to December. The vaccine comes in three bottles marked A, B and C – we inject A first, then three weeks later we inject B, and three weeks after that we vaccinate with C.

We give our pregnant ewes chocolate maize, which has trace elements, but we change their diet as lambing time draws closer. Then we’ll feed out another lick with the main ingredients being Molatek’s Master 20 (40kg), crushed maize (40kg) and salt (7kg), which works out at about 250g per day per animal.

I’ve also started an animal improvement programme with the help of commercial Merino breeder Marius Pienaar of Pienaar Boerdery in De Aar. Marius is sending us 10 pregnant Merino ewes in mid-March.

We must constantly improve genetics in our flocks to improve our wool quality and quantity and to boost our income.

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