The Government and development partners are jointly rolling out a livestock feed formulation programme for Beitbridge farmers in a move to alleviate perennial feed shortages attributed to high animal mortality rate in the area.
The initiative is being implemented under the Zimbabwe Resilience Building fund and the Department of Agriculture Extension Services (Agritex) providing technical services while the Progress Consortium is the implementing partner.
District Agritex officer Mr Masauso Mawocha said the programme started last Friday and they have so far procured 11 mobile stockfeed hammer mills (size 3) for livestock fodder production and five stock feed mixers.
He said their target was to train at least 80 farmers in each of the 15 rural wards who would then pass the knowledge to 1 020 others in all the wards.
“The ultimate idea is to mitigate perennial livestock feed shortages through having at least 20 people who can formulate basic cattle maintenance feeds from cheap locally available resources,”
said Mr Mawocha.
“This will help curb feed poverty induced cattle deaths, improve productivity in general, and will also reduce the amount of labour required for mass production of local livestock fodder. In addition, we are hopeful that such an initiative will also contribute the production of improved quality of locally supplemented feeds to cattle”.
He said currently they are officially handing over the equipment to selected ward leadership and committee responsible for the upkeep of the equipment in line with the obtaining Covid-19 management protocols.
Mr Mawocha said they were training the farmer on how to operate and service the machinery. He said the hammer mills can be used for stover /forage crops/ chopping when making silage.
“They may also be used to mill ingredients when producing bush meal (53 percent mopane leaves/twigs, 30 percent maize/wheat bran, 15 percent molasses 2 percent micronutrients).
“We are also demonstrating to the committees how they can make a 10 percent urea molasses mineral block,”
said Mr Mawocha.
This mixture, he said, is composed of 10 percent urea, 35 percent molasses, 5 percent cotton/soya/velvet seed cake, 35 percent maize bran/wheat bran/agro by-products, 8 percent cement, and 2 percent mineral premix.
He added that the 10 percent urea molasses mineral block can be supplemented to mature ruminant livestock at between 200-500 grammes per day for, maintenance, breeding, and milk production, among others.
The development comes a few months when the Government successfully implemented an artificial insemination programme under the ZRBF which benefited more than 500 smallholder farmers in the Beitbridge district.
Under this three-year programme, artificial insemination was done on a total of 1 200 animals that is 300 (2018), 450 (2019), 450 (2020), with more than 80 percent calving rate. It is understood that the programme’s main focus was to promote resilience through introducing bloodlines from beef breeds that are hard in terms of diseases and nutritional needs. These include Tuli, Boran, Brahman, and a few jerseys breeds (dairy animals) for farmers with access to irrigated fodder.
During the 2019/20 cropping season, Matabeleland South lost a cumulative 16 853 cattle to poverty deaths, with Beitbridge recording the highest of 4 413 followed by Matobo which had 2 993.
Bulilima, Gwanda, Insiza, Mangwe, and Umzingwane had 2 697, 2 569, 2 357, 1 434, and 390 cattle deaths respectively.