Traditional farming, which largely involved keeping on a few animals for prestige, has surely outlived its days. And sadly, so did the age-old tradition of sticking to only popular livestock breeds. Today’s farmer is called upon to innovate at all costs if he is to remain in this game for long.
Calling yourself a farmer might be easier said than done, but getting down to business and dealing with everyday hardships of farming is another game altogether. It is about getting dirty in the cattle dung-infested kraal, and coming face-to-face with the reality of the hardships farmers face.
But how does one remain relevant in this fast-paced world where technology continues to break new grounds every day? Exactly how do we ensure we all have a place in the sun?
Well, I have learned that it is not quite a case of taking on completely new ventures, but it is more about improving what you have in order to attain maximum output from it. Simply put, it may not be about switching to a new livestock breed, but perhaps more of capitalising on some of the best traits of the breed you farm with.
Many a times, we go an extra mile to buy breeding bulls from well-established commercial farmers at hefty prices, mostly deliberately inflated for profits by such farmers.
Remember, however, that what works for someone else may not produce the same results for you. As such, it is imperative as farmers that we do our best to maintain our creativity and originality when carrying out our farming. Research, listen to advice, observe others do it, but most importantly adjust it to your circumstances. Never carbon-copy ideas if your circumstances are different.
Circumstances involve basics things such as what are the grazing conditions on your land? How adaptable is the breed you brought to the area where you conduct your farming? What are the lessons learnt from fellow farmers in the area on the type of breed you have acquired?
As both you and I know, kraal-feeding a mature bull of six years is no easy feat. In fact, it is as crazy as it sounds. Also, exclusive kraal-feeding would deny the animal its foraging needs, which is vital to its diet.
The unfortunate result of not heeding such advice is that the product that was supposed to bring you money by producing good offspring becomes an instant black hole. In these economically hard times, ravaged by an ever-prevailing drought, making such mistakes could be costly.
The bottomline? Innovate, but adjust the new methods to suit your farming mode. Jumping on every new idea in the offing is also suicidal as far as farming is concerned. We are called upon to choose wisely.