Kgalagadi farmers’ day attracts 200 breeders to the Northern Cape

14 March 2024

By: Lebogang Mashala

About 200 livestock farmers from South Africa and Botswana gathered at Duncan Serapelwane’s farm, Taylor Span, in the sweltering Kgalagadi desert for a farmers’ day.

The annual occasion with the theme “Bridging the Information Gap” and African Farming as a media partner, took place about 270 km from Vryburg near the Botswana border. Its purpose was to unite livestock farmers and exchange knowledge on cattle breeding. 

Issues discussed at the event included mentorship, funding, animal health, navigating auction catalogues, financial planning and bull management. The event was supported by institutions such as the Agricultural Research Council, Land Bank and Bonsmara SA.

Duncan, the founder and owner of Moalosi Bonsmara, said the best way to help fellow farmers is to share knowledge and information that can benefit everyone. 

Tsholofelo Moyo from Dikhukhung Barolong Farms in Botswana told the audience how Duncan’s mentorship had transformed her farming operation. Tsholofelo said although she had a few cattle, her focus was on small stock until she met Duncan. 

“Since meeting him, I have taken my cattle farming seriously and have since moved to Bonsmara cattle. I started by buying a pure Bonsmara bull and haven’t looked back.”

Tsholofelo also emphasised the importance of a mentor, paying tribute to Duncan. “He taught me the importance of being present on my farm. Most young farmers like me tend to leave their most valuable assets with herdsmen and don’t stay on the farm. Moving permanently onto my farm has increased my productivity. When you live on the farm, you are always the first to identify any issues,” she said.

Additionally, Duncan advised her not to attend all farming events. “Once you have set your farming goals, you should be selective about the events you attend. Many of us want to attend all farming-related events, which takes up all our time. Attend only those events that are beneficial to your growth.”

Tsholofelo emphasised the importance of having a management plan and choosing adaptable animals. “It is essential to understand what type of animals you need to have on the farm and why. Many people attend auctions and buy the biggest bull or largest cow on sale, without considering whether their farms can maintain such animals. The largest animal is not always the best animal for your operation.”

Thapelo Moleleki from Land Bank explained the importance of having good financial records and applying sound farming practices to improve eligibility for funding. He explained how farmers can use the blended finance scheme to advance their businesses.

Rian Dames, a pasture specialist who has worked on government and private farms, including in Namibia, spoke about the importance of rotational grazing, especially during the drier seasons. 

Sandile Nzuza, breed adviser at Bonsmara SA, gave tips on navigating the auction catalogue when planning to buy animals at a production auction. Sandile also emphasised the importance of viewing animals before the auction, saying that relying solely on the catalogue may not be enough. 

Tebogo Serapelwane, chief research technician at the Agricultural Research Council’s Vryburg bull testing station, gave advice on practical bull management. He underscored the importance of taking care of bulls, as they are responsible for 50% of the genetic material on the farm. 

“Bulls are expensive. A registered bull with good traits and full history can cost anything from R55 000 and up. Therefore, taking care of them is non-negotiable,” he said.

The day ended with a practical demonstration of farm animals by Duncan, who explained their good and bad traits.

Duncan said he hosts farmers’ days to impart knowledge to fellow black farmers so they can improve their businesses. “I’ve learned most of what I know from days like these, belonging to study groups and having good mentors. My advice is for farmers to take advantage of information days and network with fellow farmers to improve their operations,” he said.

You can watch videos of the presentations by Tsholofelo Moyo, Tebogo Serapelwane and Rian Dames on our Videos page or follow the links below.

Kgalagadi Farmers’ Day – Tsholofelo Moyo

Kgalagadi Farmers’ Day – Tebogo Serapelwane

Kgalagadi Farmers’ Day – Riaan Dames

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