Assessment of cattle owners' perceptions and expectations, and identification of constraints on production in a peri-urban, resource-poor environment

01 Oct 2012

This questionnaire survey was conducted amongst 200 farmers in the resource-poor, urban and periurban environments of Botshabelo and Thaba Nchu towns in the Free State Province of South Africa. The questionnaire was divided into seven sections, namely demography, livestock, cattle, parasites, parasite control, livestock diseases and problems experienced. A total of 87,5 % of the livestock owners were not employed (unemployed or pensioner) . Cattle constituted more than 50% of the livestock units owned in the area and farmers owned an average of 9,33 ± 0,812 head of cattle. A total of 193 (96,5 %) of the farmers indicated that milk was the most important product from their cattle. Only 26 % of them slaughtered their own cattle for meat consumption. Eighty-eight percent of them indicated that external parasites on their livestock presented a problem, but only 72,9 % of farmers implemented any tick control measures. Less than half (45 ,5 %) of the farmers who attempted to control ticks used commercial acaricides. The remainder used various other methods, including the application of used engine oil and household detergents. Amongst the clinical diseases observed in their cattle, dry gallsickness was mentioned most often (20%) . This figure, however, is believed to be inaccurate because dry gallsickness may be a clinical manifestation of some of the other diseases mentioned by the farmers , such as anaplasmosis, foreign body obstruction of the gastro-intestinal tract by plastic bags, pneumonia and mastitis. Animal husbandry problems experienced by the farmers included pollution (i.e. ingestion of plastic bags and string by their livestock) , availability of water and theft.