The Agricultural Research Council (ARC)’s Kaonafatso ya Dikgomo (KyD) Scheme aims to help smallholder farmers break into the mainstream agricultural economy.
Kaonafatso ya Dikgomo means cattle improvement or betterment, and the aim is to achieve sustainable livestock improvement by helping farmers keep accurate animal-performance records.
As the ARC must manage the National Animal Recording and Improvement Schemes for the country, its field workers assist smallholder farmers with basic animal husbandry and herd recording. Animal records include birth notification, weaning weight, and 12-month and 18-month weight.
This information is captured on the Integrated Registration and Genetic Information System (Intergis) for analysis to enable farmers to make selection and culling decisions.
All of this helps to improve fertility and calving rates, which means more money in the farmer’s pocket. The ARC now also has a mobile laboratory to test the fertility of bulls, synchronise cows, do AI and embryo transfer, as well as pregnancy testing.
More than 700 Nguni cattle farmers currently benefit from this technology. In addition, the council works closely with provincial health technicians and veterinarians to provide animal-health advice to farmers. Rangeland scientists help them to manage their grazing more effectively, and nutritionists help them plan fodder flow and develop feeding strategies.
A livestock identification catalogue helps with traceability to combat stock theft. Hair samples are collected, allocated a unique bar-coded reference number, and stored at the ARC laboratory. Such a sample then confirms ownership when an animal is stolen.
Call 012 427 9700 for more information or visit arc.agric.za to get in touch with KyD officials near you.