What could drive a master farmer who once sold a herd of 500 cattle at a single auction (when it was unheard of in the communal areas that one can even sell a hundred cattle without shutting down his operation) to suddenly switch to small stock production?
“Cattle production is more expensive besides that, the rate of return on sheep and goats is twice that of cattle given that goats can sometimes give birth to twins twice a year,” says Sehularo Motshegare the host of the this year’s Southern District Beef Farmers Association field day. Motshegare runs his small stock operation from Ditlhotana cattle post about 28 kilometers from Mmathethe village in the Southern District.
“Health wise, small stock doesn’t have as much problems as cattle. Most of the small stock diseases are respiratory (associated with fever) so they just need someone to check their temperatures when you suspect one of them is not well,” he says. And that should not pose that much of problem for the 75 year old small stock farmer who happens to operate a thriving business in Gaborone selling clinical, laboratory and medical equipment. His also attributes his success in small stock management to control.
Speaking to farmers at the field day the farmer and businessman lamented stock theft in the area.
“Livestock needs someone to be around to keep thieves and predators from the kraal,” he said.
As for Motshegare he has trained dogs to watch over his flock.
“The dogs are vicious and normally sleep with the goats and sheep. They (dogs) will wake you up at night if there is anything suspicious. However, they need human support so that when they bark at night one is able to wake up to see what is happening.”
Though successful, he has not been spared from the effects of the drought.
“We are really struggling and the goats and sheep are on supplementary feeding,” he says.
Born in Madingwane, Motshegare who looks young for his age, grew up a farming family where father grew various crops and had cattle and sheep.
Motshegare showing his livestock at the Southern District Beef Farmers field day