Journal of the South African Veterinary Association
On-line version ISSN 2224-9435
Print version ISSN 1019-9128
MANZANA, N. Patience; MCCRINDLE, Cheryl M.E.; SEBEI, P. Julius and PROZESKY, Leon. Optimal feeding systems for small-scale dairy herds in the North West Province, South Africa. J. S. Afr. Vet. Assoc. [online]. 2014, vol.85, n.1, pp.01-08. ISSN 2224-9435.
ABSTRACT Land redistribution was legislated in 1994; it was designed to resolve historical imbalances in land ownership in South Africa. Between 2002 and 2006, a longitudinal observational study was conducted with 15 purposively selected small-scale dairy farmers in a land redistribution project in Central North West Province. Four farmers left the project over the period. For the purposes of this study, a small-scale dairy farm was defined as a farm that produces less than 500 L of milk a day, irrespective of the number of cows or size of the farm. The study was conducted in three phases. In the first phase, situational analysis using participatory rural appraisal (PRA) and observation was used to outline the extent of the constraints and design appropriate interventions. Feeds that were used were tested and evaluated. In the second phase, three different feeding systems were designed from the data obtained from PRA. These were: (1) A semi-intensive farm-based ration using available crops, pastures and crop residues with minimal rations purchased. (2) An intensive, zero-grazing dairy system using a total mixed ration. (3) A traditional, extensive or dual-purpose system, where the calf drank from the cow until weaning and milking was done only once a day. In the third phase, adoption was monitored. By July 2006, all remaining farmers had changed to commercially formulated rations or licks and the body condition score of the cows had improved. It was concluded that veterinary extension based on PRA and a holistic systems approach was a good option for such complex problems. Mentoring by commercial dairy farmers, veterinary and extension services appeared to be viable. Further research should be done to optimise the traditional model of dairy farming, as this was relatively profitable, had a lower risk and was less labour intensive.