Farmbiz: Deep breeding

By Kudakwashe Gwabanayi

THIS week marks exactly seven months since we came out of the rainy season. In other words, it is the longest section because in less than a month, we will be in the rainy season again.

While this is good news for those who plan to put crops on the ground, it is not the same for those who practice animal husbandry, whether on a small or large scale.


Currently, pastures are scarce because cattle, sheep, goats and other grazers have been there since February. The water situation is also becoming dire with each passing day, as small dams and other surface water bodies dry up while some streams have not had running water for quite some time. Even the 120 m deep boreholes are now dry.

The crossing of the Runde River at Masvingo is a perfect example of what is happening in most parts of the country when it comes to water for livestock.

However, the onset of the rains does not necessarily mean that the food problem is resolved as the pastures need about two months to recover after the first normal rains.

The rains themselves also bring disease and other complications for the animals. So even those who practice zero grazing are deep within their cattle.

Fortunately, due to climate change, the months of September and October of this year did not bring with them their usual high temperatures which would have made matters worse.


Outdoor grazing farmers are encouraged to feed their livestock extra during this difficult season. This will help strengthen their immune system so that any threat that comes their way can be mitigated.

This year corn, soybeans and other field crops are in abundance due to the bumper harvest of the 2019/20 season. The prices for obtaining are quite fair compared to other years. However, one should not forget to take them to the grinder for grinding in order to reduce the fiber content.

It is also important to note that when introducing feed, it should be done gradually so that it does not suffocate and shock the digestive system.

For goats, cattle, and sheep, salt leaks and livestock feed are best because they help improve the appetite of animals.

Pigs and chickens will need extra care as the rainy season approaches, because if their shelters are not well-drained, they may die in large numbers. Fortunately, they don’t have to worry about pasture as they are always fed.

Births and deaths

Farmers are currently experiencing animal deaths, some of them as a result of birth complications. Unfortunately, many ignore the causes. In general, most animals without complementary feed lose weight during this time.

It weakens their immune system. So, ordinary diseases that may not cause death can actually be fatal because animals do not have good nutrition. Weight loss is not particularly good for pregnant females as they will not have enough strength to push during parturition.

It is also important to note that farmers should pay special attention during this time so that diseases can be detected early and diagnosed. In addition, always make sure that the cattle are given enough doses, vaccinations as well as soaks to prevent disease.


This is the best time to consider putting optional feeds on the ground for livestock when the rains start to fall. Instead of planting the traditional round nuts, millet and peanuts, farmers should consider complementary feeds for their livestock.

According to Wikipedia, there are two basic types: forage and forage. Used alone, the word forage most often refers to forage. Animal feed is an important input to animal agriculture and is often the main cost of raising animals.

Farmers typically try to reduce the cost of this feed by growing their own grazing animals or supplementing expensive feeds with substitutes, such as food waste like spent grain from brewing beer.

Forage refers in particular to food or fodder given to animals (including cut plants and transported to them), rather than what they feed for themselves.

It includes hay, straw, silage, compressed and granulated feeds, oils and mixed rations, as well as germinated grains and pulses. Feed grains are the most important source of animal feed in the world.

The amount of grain used to produce the same unit of meat varies widely. Cows and sheep need 8 kg of grain for every 1 kg of meat they produce, pigs about 4 kg. The most efficient poultry units only need 1.6 kg of feed to produce 1 kg of chicken.

Farmed fish can also be fed cereals and use even less than poultry. The two most important feed grains are corn and soybeans. Other feed grains include wheat, oats, barley, and rice, among others.

Traditional sources of animal feed include household food scraps and by-products from food processing industries, such as milling and brewing.

The leftover materials from the milling of oil crops such as peanuts, soybeans and corn are important sources of fodder. Leftovers given to pigs are called slop, and leftovers given to chickens are called chicken scratches.

Brewer’s spent grain is a by-product of beer making which is widely used as animal feed.

Compound feeds are forages mixed from various raw materials and additives. These mixtures are formulated according to the specific needs of the target animal.

They are made by food preparers in the form of flour, granules or crumbs. The main ingredients used in commercially prepared foods are feed grains, which include corn, soybeans, sorghum, oats and barley.

Blended feeds can also include premixes, which can also be sold separately. Premixes are made up of micro-ingredients such as vitamins, minerals, chemical preservatives, antibiotics, fermentation products and other ingredients that are purchased from premix companies, usually in bag form, to be mixed. in commercial rations.

Due to the availability of these products, farmers who use their own grains can formulate their own rations and be assured that their animals are receiving the recommended levels of minerals and vitamins, although they are still subject to the veterinary directive.

Forage is a plant material (mainly leaves and stems of plants) consumed by grazing livestock. Historically, the term fodder has meant only plants consumed by animals directly as pasture, crop residues or immature cereal crops, but it is also used more loosely to include similar plants cut for fodder and brought to animals, in particular as hay or silage. .

While the term forage has a broad definition, the term forage crop is used to define crops, annual or biennial, which are grown for use by grazing or harvesting as a whole crop. There are so many other crops that one can grow such as alfalfa, catambora or rhodes grass or even the traditional musekesa tree, but the big idea is to make sure that when the next rainy season comes your livestock is in good health.

  • Gwabanayi is a working journalist and farmer in his own right. – 0772 865 703 or [email protected]

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