New Era Newspaper

New Era Epaper
Icon Collap
Home / Farmers' Kraal with Charles Tjatindi - Proper infrastructure vital for farming

Farmers' Kraal with Charles Tjatindi - Proper infrastructure vital for farming

2023-05-30  Charles Tjatindi

Farmers' Kraal with Charles Tjatindi - Proper infrastructure vital for farming

One of the biggest letdowns in livestock farming is the lack of infrastructure on our farms. We often underplay the importance of good infrastructure and as a result, struggle to control and manage various aspects of our livestock farming.

Proper infrastructure on a farm does not necessarily have to cost you an arm and a leg to work; even self-constructed, modified or makeshift structures can go a long way in making sure you get the best out of your farming. 

As we approach the depth of winter, it is important that our livestock - especially small stock - are taken care of. Leaving livestock out in the scorching sun or freezing nights is not only counterproductive but also inhumane and borders on abuse. Surely, every farmer worth his salt would take care of his products as he does himself. 

Livestock do well outdoors under widely differing weather conditions and you can allow them access to an open-air pole shelter. In an enclosed building, proper ventilation is important for maintaining good health. Design the infrastructure to make your job easy and safe, thereby minimising expense, time and labour.

Effective working facilities include a crush pen, a neck clamp and a squeeze chute. The crush pen and neck clamp are used for vaccination, deworming, branding and close examination. They can also be used to help a cow with calving. The pens and squeeze chute confine animals that need to be handled and driven into the crush pen or neck clamp.

Well-designed handling facilities reduce animal confusion and stress. High stress may lead to poor performance, affecting meat quality. For this reason, never use an electric cattle prod - it is as cruel as shooting them down at point blank.

Also, maintaining feed quality is crucial. Store feed, including hay, straw, silage and grain, in a dry, well-ventilated building free of rodents. Forage exposed to direct sunlight loses nutritional value. Wet hay loses value and palatability and becomes a safety and health hazard due to the possibility of combustion and mould development. Rodents damage feed and spread disease.

Research suggests that elevated feeding racks and bins reduce waste and prevent the spread of internal parasites and diseases. Many types are commercially available, or you can make your own. An adequate and reliable clean fresh water supply is essential. 

Many types of water troughs are available from local feed or farm supply stores. Alternatively, recycle and modify old barrels or bathtubs for this purpose, but clean them thoroughly before use. 

Never use any container, especially not a plastic one, that has contained chemicals. Place pens, feedlots and crush pens at a convenient distance from feed storage facilities. The site should be well-drained, so that water flows freely away from feed storage, working facilities and roads. It should also allow free access to trucks, tractors with trailers and other machinery for unhampered offloading, feed processing and cleaning.

Finally, make sure that you maintain the infrastructure. Nothing shouts neglect more than a once-quality facility on the farm that has become disintegrated due to irresponsible conduct in using it and a lack of maintenance. Make the farm work for you and you will never have to work a day in your life. -

2023-05-30  Charles Tjatindi

Share on social media