The farm Kleinhoek, in the Eastern Cape, South Africa, lies in an area with heartwater. So when Loodt Bücher acquired buffalo in 2014, he had to think of a plan to ward off external parasites. He started by experimenting with products available on the market.
When he found that game like to rub against rough textures such as tree trunks or stumps to get rid of parasites, it gave him the idea to install some strategically placed scratching posts in his game enclosures.
“The first thing I did once the buffalo were delivered to the farm was to create mud baths at all the manmade waterholes. The mud protects the buffalo against the hot sun and also helps to ward off ticks and mites.”
At one of the water bowls there were three wooden poles, and whenever the buffalo came to drink water, they would take turns to rub against these.
“My father suggested we use the 1,8 m long railway metal (spoorstawe) that were lying around on the yard as strong scratch posts that wouldn’t buckle under the weight of the buffalo. We wrapped hessian bags and skins around the poles and then covered it with chicken wire to create a rough texture.”
Loodt says they use a dip that is available in grease form and is usually used on horses to ward off external parasites. Whenever he visits one of the waterholes, he applies a layer of it onto the scratch posts. A salt lick and protein lick are also placed near the poles to lure the game to it.
“So far everything has worked like a charm. It’s like a all-in-one service. While the buffalo and eland drink water and use the licks, they are in fact dipping themselves.”
Loodt estimates the cost of the poles at about R200 each. He says several game farmers that have visited the farm since have been impressed with the eco-friendly method of fighting parasites.