An excited Lindiwe Sithole, host of African Farming Season 2, travels to the beautiful Eastern Cape to visit the large farming enterprise of Mandla and Johnston Mandlendoda. The brothers take her on a tour of their farmlands, showing her the various wildlife species that call it home. Running such a multifaceted enterprise takes a lot of hard work and dedication, which the Mandlendodas have in abundance.
On a farm like this, where livestock and wildlife are the primary income, the dominant variable is always the supply of sufficient feed. If planning is poor, aggravated by inefficient production practices and adverse weather conditions, feed supplies can easily be eradicated or inadequate. Mandla says running a game farm along with livestock is no small feat.
“The flat areas are usually allocated to the livestock for grazing while the game graze on the mountainous and bush areas.”
Sithole sits down with Dr Francois van de Vyver, the National Technical Manager at Voermol Feeds, to talk about some of the key aspects of feeding thousands of animals sufficiently. “When you are responsible for feeding various animals in different stages of production, a sound fodder flow program is crucial,” he explains.
“There might be animals that are pregnant, lactating, or being weaned on the same farm – they would all have different nutritional needs. A farmer has to have a plan that caters for all the various needs of these animals, as well as those of the different species. If the animals develop deficiencies due to inadequate feed or nutrients, their development and reproduction rate will suffer.”
According to Dr Van de Vyver, a lot of effort is required to plan for various factors that can have an impact on the availability of feed.
“One has to consider difficult years, like periods of drought, and prepare for all possible scenarios by having a fodder bank on the farm.”
The goal of a fodder bank is to maintain the health of productive animals, especially in trying times. Such a facility can be utilised all year but is designed to bridge the forage scarcity during dry seasons.