Tuesday, 31 March 2015


Anthrax!  I would be devastated if my herd is diagnosed with this disease. 

Anthrax is an acute bacterial disease.  The disease is primarily caused by exposure to spores.  These spores can exist in the environment for decades.  It is believed that alkaline soils are more favorable to the survival of these spores. Only under the right conditions, the dormant spores can germinate and multiply. The disease effects grazing animals such as cattle, sheep, goats and horses.  People can also be affected by anthrax. 

The predominant sign in cattle with anthrax is a progression from a normal appearance to dead just a few hours.  This causes most animals to just be found dead.  This is because the incubation period of the disease is 3 to 7 days.

How does anthrax spread in animals?
Outbreaks of anthrax tent to be associated with particular climatic and weather events.  These events can include heavy rainfall, flooding and drought.  During heavy rainfall seasons, the close grazing of animals on fresh shoots of grass leads to an outbreaks due to ingestion of organisms picked from contaminated soils. Biting flies may also transmit the disease from one animal to the next.

How anthrax spreads from the environment and into cattle.

What are the symptoms of anthrax?
The symptoms vary from signs of weakness, fever, alternation between excitement and depression, difficulty breathing, uncoordinated movements, convulsions, bloody discharges from natural openings on body (mouth, ears, nose and anus).  It is necessary to note that after death, rapid decomposition of carcass occurs.
Bloody discharge from natural openings of an animal is one of the symptoms of anthrax.

What are the treatment/vaccination?
Anthrax can only be controlled through vaccination programs, rapid detection and reporting and quarantine.  Annual vaccination in all grazing animals reduces the disease.  It is encouraged, that vaccinations are done 2-4 weeks before the season when outbreaks are expected. 

It is also very much important to speak to your local VET regarding the vaccination periods and dosage.  When vaccinating against any disease, keep the following in mind.  Always be informed. Ask as may questions as possible.  

  • Have the adult animals been previously vaccinated?
  • Are the female cattle pregnant?
  • Are they heifers?
  • Do I vaccinate calves?
  • What is the minimum age required for vaccination?
  • What operation am I dealing with?  Natural grazing for beef farming, feedlot or diary?


Sunday, 22 March 2015


Have you ever slaughtered a cow, and the digestive system and liver does not look so good.  Full of 'thread like' material (worms).  I have seen that plenty of times.  Well, my guess is internal parasites.  Most cattle have them. Obviously, for a farmer, this can have tremendous impacts on the growth and production of the herd, and thus on the dollar.  

Internal parasites are mainly worms living in the intestine of an animal.  They draw blood from the animal and compete withe the animal for nutrients in the intestine.  The animals that are skinny and do not seem to gain weight, especially while the rest of the herd is fat, may have internal parasites. The internal parasites can be controlled by proper management strategies, which includes deworming schedule, which should be applied to all animals in the herd. Contact your nearest VET office or Agra for more on medications to use on deworming for parasites.

A good test for internal parasites is using fresh cow dung.  Take the dung and place it in a bucket of water.  Smash matter with your hands.  Wait a few seconds.  If positive, worms should float to the top of the water. 

The main symptom of internal parasites is loss of body condition. Other symptoms are diarrhea, anemia, dehydration or even death. 

The various internal parasites include roundworms, tapeworms and flukes.

The adult worms live inside the intestine and lay eggs.  The eggs come out with faeces and hatch in moist worm conditions. These worms hatch from the laid eggs and end up in the pastures.  The cattle feed on the pastures, including worms. The worms then end up in the intestines were they grow into mature adult worms.  They process repeats itself. 

Figure showing life cycle of parasites in ruminants including cattle.

The flukes usually occur in the liver and digestive system of an infected animal. They lay their eggs which eventually pass to the rangeland via faeces.  The eggs than hatch in warm moist conditions. These immature flukes are invested by snails. Yes, Snails!  In the snails, they develop further.  The snails are living. They also have to release some faeces out of their systems. By doing so, they futher contaminate the pastures. The cattle take up immature flukes while grazing.  The flukes grow and mature into adult flukes in their bodies.  The cycle repeats itself.

Figure 2 depicting life cycle of fluke worms.

Tapeworms are the lease serious type of internal parasite.  The host is again from forage. 

Video stressing the relationship between internal parasites and production.

Video on strategic deworming strategies.

Friday, 13 March 2015


I came across the book, Farming with Boergoats:  A Practical Guide for Southern African Conditions, 1st edition by Johan Steyn.  I had purchased the book for about N$340.00 at The Book Den in Windhoek, Namibia.

Johan Steyn is a well known boergoat farmer in South Africa.  He has excessive first hand experience in boergoat farming.  He presents training courses on his farming practices in most Southern African countries (Botswana, Namibia, South African).  He has had students from Ghana, Mauritius, Kenya and Nigeria.  For more information visit his site at www.boergoats.co.za.

This little book is amazing.  It provides the very basic and fundamental knowledge in boergoat farming.  He covers topics such as why farm with boergoats,  the farming system, production cycle of boergoats, grazing management, animal health and marketing of boergoats.  He goes steps further by adding a glossary of terms (with meanings) and practical advice. The practical advice is to most frequently asked questions such as when, and how should I dip goats?Or when should I put out licks? Johan also recommends what ration should be used for different members of flock such as pregnant ewes, growing kids/ewes.

For those who are serious about farming with boergoats, and do not have much knowledge on the subject.  This book is a must read.


Saturday, 7 March 2015


These silly milk suckers... Seriously how long does a calve expect to suck from their mother?  Its time to wean!  Grow up already.

I was wondering why my cattle with calves are too skinny.  After thinking very hard about it, I realized that their calves suckle for a very very long time.  Most suck for 7 to 8 months.  While suckling, this cow is most likely pregnant.  Eventually when their mothers wean their young once naturally themselves, their bodies have deteriorated so much. With little time to regain weight before the next birth.  And in a short time, they will give birth again.  And the cycle continues...Same story every year.  

  Bad conditioned lactating cow to a 6 month calve. To be weaned.

   One and a half month old calf suckling from mommy.

  10 month old suckling calve. This bad boy has no shame.

  Newborn suckling. Cow soon to deteriorate in body condition.

Weaning is an excellent management skill.  Every farmer should practice this management style.  So what is weaning?  At what age can weaning be done?  How is it done?

Weaning is the process of separating calves from their source of milk. It is a very stressful time for both the cow and the calves. But obviously, more stress for the calve (environmentally, psychologically and nutritionally).  If not done properly, it can have serious long term consequences. Most calves are weaned at 3 to 10 months (120 to 290 days) after birth.  Most farmers wean at 6 months (205 days).  Weight is also a factor to consider.

There are several steps to be followed when weaning calves.   Precondition calves prior to weaning. You can castrate the male calves, dehorn and vaccinate if necessary.  If the above is done while weaning, the calve can easily loose alot of weight as the nutritional supply from milk is cut. Illnesses can also arise if weaning is done with dehorning or castration.  To mininimize this, provide immunization and boosters. Treat for internal and external parasites.  Another way of preconditioning calves is to supply them with additional nutritional licks/supplementation before weaning. This is so they pick up more weight.  Most importantly, change their diets.  Start giving lurcerne grass in enclosed areas.

To do the actual weaning.  Use the different camps to separate mother from calves with fencing. For most farmers, this alternative is difficult as land is limited.  Most farmers simply use nose rings. They are effective for most calves.  But some clever calves maneuver their way around them.  This method is less stressful for the calve because it is in direct contact with the mother and it can smell and touch her.

 Nose ring for weaning with spikes.  The spikes poke the mothers  udder while calve suckles, thus mother does not let calve suckle.

I personally plan on weaning my calves at 6-8 months.  Depending on factors such as how much the calve weighs, the environmental/pasture conditions and on the condition of the mother.

Happy weaning!



The brahman cattle are amazing.  I was fortunate enough to acquire brahman bulls from a stud owner.  The fathers are all stud registered.  

   White brahman bulls...Super hungry...Was left overnight for viewing the next day.

   Good stretch!

  My favorite bull.  Slighly more than 2 years old.  Weaned very well.

I love the breed.  The thing I love the most is that it makes a very good crossbreed.  They good looking, hardy and perform well with the Simmentaler ( to yield Simbra) and with the Santa Gertrudis.  Only disadvantage is that they take quiet long to reach puberty, about 2 to 3 years.  But once they have reached puberty, they can breed for the next 15 years, bearing a calf each year.  That's a bonus!  The brahman cattle adapt easily to different conditions. They both browsers and grazers with good fertility and mothering skills. They not too heavy on the scale for the 'dollar man' though. Which is why I prefer crossbreeds.  

Below are my crossbreeds at my ranch.

 Thriving brahman tolly and cows.  

   More crossbreeds.  Pregnant heifer. 

  Pregnant brahman heifer.

 Brahman crossed with Santa Gertrudis.  Beautiful and huge.

Videos below shows how the brahman performs, both in Namibia and in other areas. 


Friday, 6 March 2015


A buffalo on the loose was observed at a farm near Kombat town in Otjozondjupa district (north eastern ) of Namibia.  The buffalo was spotted by a farmer after seeing it mingling at a water point with his cattle.   ALL the auctions in the surrounding regions were officially closed.  The roadblocks and checkpoints are set up at strategic sites to ensure no livestock or animal products are transported from the affected areas. The products that are already slaughtered in abattoirs from the affected areas are retained and a full trace back should be undertaken. This carcasses are kept under quarantine for 30 days and test will be conducted for the presence of foot-and-mouth disease.

Yoh!  Namibia has has serious control measures set up!  

What is foot-and-mouth disease?  What are the symptoms?
Foot-and-mouth disease or hoof-and-mouth disease (Aphthae epizooticae) is an infectious and sometimes fatal viral disease that affects cloven-hoofed animals, both wild and domestic.  The virus causes a high fever for two or three days, followed by blisters inside the mouth and on the feet that may rupture and cause lameness. Cattle, pigs, goats, sheep, antelopes and water buffaloes are amongst the animals that can get infected.

Have a look at the video below for more insight on the disease.