Friday, 31 July 2015


The recording of livestock should not be taken for granted.  Every farmer should use this practice.  Records are not only used to identify animals, but also to select animals based on production levels.  As a farmer, we want animals that are productive and yield a calf every year (or as often as possible). 

    Adapt a record system that is suitable for your production type.

  Beautiful herd drinking water.

They say a record system should only include data which can be used.  But I say, it’s better to have as much data as possible.  Perhaps, in the future, a great use for the data will be established.

The type of record one collects depends on what production system or line of farming one is involved in.  The diary farmer will have much different record than a beef producer (which can further be oxen production systems, weaner production systems etc).

I really suggest that as a farmer, YOU sit down and think long and hard what data you need to record. 

The following are the registers that I keep on the farm:

  1. Cow register and breeding/mating register and   vaccination register in one.

·         The main aim of my cow register is to be able to check the productivity of a cow.  Immediately.  When a cow is not productive, I can determine that from my records and waste no time in getting rid of her.
·         Record the ear tag.  Every tag is unique for every cow.
·         If the cattle are serviced by a bull, I indicate the month of service so I know when the calf is due. 
·         Amazingly.  Cows usually tent to give birth during round about the same time of the year.  For every cow, I know when to expect a calf.  Really good for planning purposes.
·         I regularly vaccinate against anthrax, black quarter and botulism.  I give inject able vitamins as well.  This is recorded on the cow register. I also keep record of animals with other problems such as udder problems, joint ill problems.  And the treatment of such cases is recorded too.

2.  Calve register and vaccination record
·         This is the record of all the calves in my herd, together with age, dam and sire, ear tag number and sex.
·         The date the calves are born is also important for recording (for breeding and weaning purposes).  I do not have breeding camps.  Therefore, I have a yearly production of calves.  I have divided by production cycle in 3 quarters of the year (January – April is quarter one, May – August is quarter two, September -December is quarter three).  I make sure I go to the farm at the end of every quarter (April, August and December) to conduct a thorough assessment on all my livestock.  I wean, vaccinate, dehorn, brand, tag and castrate in every quarter.  Remember not to wean and vaccinate, brand, dehorn at the same time.  This causes excessive stress on the calves and their heath weakens.
·         At one of these quarters, before weaning I vaccinate against brucellosis (which is mandatory for 4-11 months old female calves).
·         After every quarter I submit my ear tag information to Meatboard for recording into the Namlits database.

3.  Tolly or oxen register and vaccination register

4.  Heifer register and vaccination register
·         I consider a heifer anything female of the ages between weaning and bull servicing. I have a separate record book for this category.
·         I also vaccinate annually against anthrax, black quarter, botulism and inject able vitamins.

Templates are all over the net that can help you.  Some people used computer software tailor made for their needs. 

Recording is a good practice.  It saves me money and time.  Most importantly I can plan ahead. I can do some stuff without actually being at the farm. 


Friday, 17 July 2015


I had gone to an Agra auction last week…  This was my first time at an auction.  Previously, I would send someone to the auction to purchase livestock for me or I would simply make arrangements to purchase on someone’s farm (at their own set price).  The auction procedures are quite simple and straight forward.  It is all about being the highest bidder and obviously knowing what you are looking for.

Points to remember:
  • The cattle that are being auctioned are organised in various kraals/lots based on their weight, body condition and ownership (at times).  Cattle with more or less the same weight, regardless of age, go in one kraal.  Each kraal has a kraal number or a lot number. 
  • When you are purchasing cattle, you purchase per kraal. The kraals contain different numbers of cattle.  Some kraals contain just one cow/cow & calf/bull etc.  Other kraals have up to 15 cattle or so.
  •  Before the auction starts, you must present yourself at the auction office as a ‘buyer’.  You will then be given a number linked to your name.  Every time you are the highest bidder, the auctioneer will ask you for this number.  
  • Before the auction starts, have a look at the cattle and pick a kraal(s) you are interested in purchasing.  You will be bidding for these.
  • I think a single in a kraal is really expensive.  A lot of bidders are interested.
Obviously, you have a budget in mind.  You know how much you are willing to spend on a number of cattle that you would like to purchase.  The cattle are sent in the auctioning pen, kraal by kraal. A starting price is set by the auctioneer.  The price will go up, and the buyers will bit.  Until the last and highest bidder comes forth. 

Here is a scenario.  A kraal comes into the auction pens.  This kraal contains 10 heifers.  You (the buyer) only have N$40 000.00 budgeted for this lot.  Your limit per head of heifer (in this specific lot) is N$40 000.00/10 heifers = N$4000.00/heifer.  The starting price of these heifers is N$3000.00.  The auctioneer will increase the prices gradually.  Buyers will keep bidding.  If you are the last bidder with N$4000.00 per head or less, you take the lot home.  Simple!...  Just know your budget, know your limit.  Know the worth of the lot.  And do not exceed it.

Soon after the auction, the payment must be made by bank transfer, cash or cheque.  You can organize your own transport.  In fact, there are a lot of transport trucks at the auction. All you need to do is make your pick and make arrangements.

  Cattle from one kraal/lot from our view point.

  Transportation truck.Charges are per head of cow or per kilometer.

  Heifers in an enclosed camp for monitoring

Upon arrival of the cattle, branding must take place.  There is new ownership, thus the new owner's brand number must be used. Below is where one must brand the cattle:

1st owner brand on left hind leg
2nd owner brand on left shoulder
3rd owner brand on left neck
4th owner brand on right hind leg
5th owner brand on right shoulder
6th owner brand on right neck

There is staff from veterinary service/office.  The cattle movement permit is issued.  This permit must be given to the truck driver. He/she shall keep it until destination is reached.  Upon arrival the permit must be given to the owner of the cattle.  This person must than return the permit to the veterinary offices before the expiry date indicated on document.

I inject the cattle with a multi-vitamin injection.  Than I place the cattle in an enclosed camp with lick. water and grazing.  This allows the animals to get used to their new environment.

Hope you make your way to the auction soon...