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South African Journal of Agricultural Extension

On-line version ISSN 2413-3221
Print version ISSN 0301-603X

Abstract

FOURIE, P. J.; MAHLAKO, S. R  and  VAN DER WESTHUIZEN, C. Assessment of the management practices of emerging sheep production systems in the Eastern Free State: can the extensionist make a difference?. S Afr. Jnl. Agric. Ext. [online]. 2018, vol.46, n.2, pp.57-68. ISSN 2413-3221.  http://dx.doi.org/10.17159/2413-3221/2018/v46n2a463.

The aim of the study was to investigate factors that may prevent small-scale farmers from succeeding. Poor sheep production is generally associated with the ineffective management of these production systems. It would therefore be valuable to assess small-scale farmers' management of sheep production systems to investigate what causes the high rate of morbidity and mortality as well as increased costs of maintenance associated with ineffective sheep production systems. The management practices followed in the production of sheep, including reproduction, nutrition, and health management; the management of farming equipment; and marketing strategies were also investigated. Structured questionnaires were used to gather the required data from small-scale farmers in the Eastern Free State, South Africa. The questionnaire was designed to include both open and closed-ended questions and was administered through personal interviews. A total of 40 small-scale farmers participated in the study. The results revealed that the specific limiting factors that small-scale farmers face are poor animal health management skills, poor animal nutritional management, and inadequate support services from the government and other related stakeholders. Furthermore, insufficient land availability to expand production, inadequate agricultural farming equipment, a lack of reproduction and production management skills, and poor marketing skills were the most obvious challenges. Finally, the results from the study highlighted that agricultural extensionists have a crucial role to play in improving the sheep production systems of small-scale farmers as they are well positioned to render training and advisory services. If the Department of Agriculture (DoA) joins forces with agricultural institutions like the Red Meat Producers Organisation (RPO), the National Wool Growers Association (NWGA), and breeders' societies, this objective will be achieved.

Keywords : Emerging sheep farmer; sheep production; constraints; production systems; Eastern Free State.

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