Sheep production and reproduction in a communal environment of the Eastern Cape Province

Author: T. Rust, J.M. Rust, N.S. Nongauza, C.H. de Ridder, N.A. Faku, A.M. Ras & S. Moss
Year: 2020
Issue: 1
Volume: 13
Page: 23 - 34

The study was conducted in Gwaba village, Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality, Eastern Cape Province. The study provides information that can be utilized to track change over time with respect to the livelihood status, livestock asset ownership and the production and reproduction profile of a communal sheep flock. Results from a structured farmer livelihood and agricultural productivity questionnaire indicated that the sheep owners are reasonably educated but old. They list farming enterprises as their main source of income. Animals are managed as one flock and an autumn mating season is followed. Theft is a concern forcing them to kraal their animals at night. Their biggest constraints are veld and animal production management followed by financial aspects and infrastructure needs. Four of the owners own more than 47% of the sheep in the communal flock. Animal production and reproduction status were recorded bi-annually. The 3 to 4 year old ewes were heaviest with average weight of 38.0 ± 6.4 kg in winter and 33.1 ± 3.8 kg in summer. Female animals experienced weight loss during the winter and weight gain during the summer months. Estimated annual pregnancy percentage was high at 86.5% in the first season, however declined to 64% the following season. Average ewe milk solid composition was 4.45%, 4.83% and 8.74% for protein, lactose and fat respectively. The amount of greasy wool marketed through the formal market increased and improved classing techniques improved the total income annually over the study period.

Keywords: body weight, husbandry, livelihood, productivity, reproduction status, small scale, wool production; milk solids
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