Autumn is the time for sheep and goat farmers to work at keeping the body condition scores of their ewes up so that when lambing starts in about a month, the lambs and kids will get the best possible start. During autumn grass starts losing quality and cattlemen change to a higher-protein winter lick to stimulate the intake of low quality grass. This increases the intakes of low-quality grass. Tomato tunnel farmers are harvesting the last of their crops before winter’s frosts arrive.
Sizwe Khoza, Nelspruit, Mpumalanga
The veld is getting dryer now and will be less nutritious. This means we must supplement to provide the cattle with enough nutrients so that they remain in good condition for the rest of the dry season. We’ve had good rains, so there is still plenty of grass. Feeding a supplement helps to keep their diet balanced while it also increases feed intake from veld or pastures. We feed out protein supplements to our animals.
This helps stimulate rumen microbial populations, increasing their ability to digest feed. This winter lick also contains small amounts of urea, which encourages voluntary feed intake, especially of veld grass that is less palatable during winter.
However, when they are on this type of supplement, we practice a rapid rotation through the camps to prevent them from overgrazing. We also provide crushed yellow maize and molasses for energy. We put down salt blocks and add some salt to the licks to manage feed intake.
Salt helps cattle maintain normal appetite and body weight. We make certain there is enough clean drinking water in all camps. We treat the cattle for external and internal parasites with Ivomec Gold.
We also use this quiet time of the year when there is less activity to take care of infrastructure maintenance, such as repairing fences and fixing pumps.