Last update: April 5, 2012 08:03:37 AM E-mail Print

 

THE DISC CHART WILL HELP YOU MANAGE YOUR VELD

P.W. ROUX

 

Do you find it a little difficult to interpret a rotational grazing system and apply it on your farm?

Then the disc chart is just what you need to simplify the problem - even a labourer who can read, can make use of it.

This simple apparatus helps the farmer to arrange his rotational grazing system correctly. Just set the card at the correct date at the end of each month, and it will automatically indicate, according to the particular system which is being applied, which camps may be grazed that month.

The disc chart has many advantages:

 

ESSENTIAL ASPECTS

To get the most out of a stock farm, the following aspects of farm planning must receive attention:

There must be enough watering places.

Different types of veld should be properly separated, fenced off and subdivided as conveniently as possible, considering prevailing conditions and watering places.

Livestock should be divided into easily manageable herds according to the number of camp groups available and the carrying capacity of the camps.

The correct rotational grazing system(s) should be accurately applied on the type(s) of veld concerned.

Provision should be made for drought, e.g. by planting drought-resistant crops, such as spineless cactus and old man saltbush.

Shaded shelters should be provided for livestock where necessary.

If required, suitable stock licks should be provided:

Effective parasite and disease control programmes, should be followed.

Soil-erosion control measures should be applied where necessary.

Draw an accurate diagram of the farm indicating the position of fences, improvements to be made, etc. This will simplify farm planning a great deal.

 

 

Discs A and B set out, month by month, the two and three year cycles of the two- and three-camp rotational grazing systems generally recommended for farm planning in the Karoo. Different systems are recommended for different regions:

 

 

REGION NO.1

Sweet Grassveld

Summer rainfall, an approximate annual average of 430 to 635 mm (17 to 25 inches): Disc A, No.1 and Disc B, Nos 1, 2 and 3.

 

 

REGION NO.2

Mixed Karoo

Summer rainfall, an approximate annual average of 200 to 430 mm (8 to 17 inches):

Rotational grazing systems originally drawn up by Dr. C. E. M. Tidmarsh of the Division of Crops and Pastures.

(a) In the case of mountains, hills, flood plains, valleys, etc., where the establishment of a permanent covering of perennial grasses is at all possible, the same systems as for Region 1 should be applied.

(b) In the case of dry, scanty plains composed mainly of stick-grassveld and shrubs: Disc A, No.3 and Disc B, No.4.

 

In the sweet grass veld and mixed Karoo it frequently happens that, owing to their location and nature, certain parts of the veld are suitable for summer grazing, whereas other parts are essentially winter veld. The latter generally includes water-course camps, warm "kloofs", brackish flats and other low-lying parts, whereas the former occurs mainly in bare, cold parts, for example on mountains and bare plains.

Where both types of veld occur on the same farm, or where a farmer has both these types of veld at his disposal, comprising a farming unit when combined, the various types of veld may sometimes best be utilised according to their natural properties by combining them in one grazing system. The Disc A No.2 system, requiring three camps, can be applied to advantage in such a case. In this instance camps A and B are intended for summer use, and camp C is the winter camp.

 

REGION NO.3

Arid Karoo

Summer rainfall, an approximate annual average of less than 200 mm (8 inches): Disc A, No.4, and Disc B, No.6.

 

REGION NO.4

Karoo

Winter rainfall, an approximate annual average of more than 200 mm (eight inches): Disc A, No.6.

 

REGION NO.5

Karoo

Winter rainfall, an approximate annual average of less than 200 mm (eight inches): Disc B, Nos. 7 and 8.

 

SPECIAL TREATMENTS

The grazing of camps in poor condition and of watercourses in veld regions Nos. 1, 2 and 4, should take place according to the Disc A, Na. 5 system. The same applies to region No.3, except that the veld should not be grazed in May. Camps in veld region No.5 should be grazed during the dry months only.

All camps in extremely poor condition should be completely withdrawn from grazing until such time as they are re-established to the extent that winter grazing can be applied to advantage, as set out by Disc A, No.5 or as in the case of region No.5. Once these camps are sufficiently recovered, they can be included in the general rotational grazing programme.

 

SECTION A

To compile a disc chart for a farm on which one or more of the above-mentioned grazing systems are applied, the following directions should be followed:

If the owner of the farm already knows which grazing systems to apply, or if he can determine which systems are recommended by consulting a completed farm plan, only the blank discs C and/or D need be used to compile the entire grazing programme for the farm. (If it is not clear which system or systems are recommended and only a grazing schedule is available, the directions given in Section B should be followed.)

Fill in the blank discs C and D corresponding to the prescribed grazing systems, as follows:

On a completed farm diagram the camps are generally numbered A, B, C, D, etc., or C1, C2, C3, etc. (Occasionally they have names, such as Springbok camp, Valley camp, Vlei camp, etc.) If the imaginary camps C3, C5 and C9 are to be grazed according to system No.1 on Disc B, copy this system lightly in pencil in the first blank circle of Disc D. (The small black arrow above SEPT. indicates the starting point) Next, substitute in ink a C3 for every "A", a C5 for every B, and a C9 for every Co The pencilled letters may now be erased.

The relevant three-camp system for camps C3, C5 and C9 is now set out in full and can be applied according to the chart.

Repeat the procedure for all the camps, which are to be grazed according to the above-mentioned system, likewise for all the other three-camp systems as well as two-camp systems and special treatments.

Sometimes two camps are grouped together to function as one; for instance, when applying a three-camp system where two of the camps, say A and B, are each 200 morgen in extent and the third camp, C, only 120 morgen, a fourth smaller camp "K" can be grouped with C so that C and K have a joint area of some 200 morgen. C and K are regarded as one camp in this case and the camp they constitute should be written as "CK".

N.B. In some of the systems appearing on the discs a heavy line joins the camp numbers, e.g. under January and February, and March and April. This signifies that the livestock should be moved to the next camp as soon as it has rained.

If April is underlined, it means that a changeover to the next camp should be effected after the first frost.

 

 

Paste the filled-in disc(s) on stiff paper or cardboard and cut out. The card, which is placed over the discs, appears in Fig. 1. Cut out the black portions marked X and Y on the card on the white line, leaving a window over each disc. Only one segment of a disc, i.e. one specific month, will be visible through the window.

It is desirable to fill in all camp numbers, camp sizes and the type of veld in a camp on the card. The carrying capacity (in units of small livestock) is entered in column 1, according to the sizes of the camps or as laid down in a district plan. The carrying capacity per grazing period, per camp, should also be entered in columns "1 x 3" or "1 x 2" on the card: for a three-camp system the carrying capacity per camp is multiplied by three camps and for a two-camp system the carrying capacity per camp is multiplied by two.

 

 

EXAMPLE

Suppose camps A and B comprise 100 morgen each and their carrying capacity is one sheep per morgen - in other words, 200 sheep can be kept on the 200 morgen (i.e. A + B). If the two-camp system is applied, only one camp will be available for grazing purposes at a time, therefore all 200 sheep will graze on one camp of 100 morgen for the grazing period indicated by the disc chart, in other words, twice the carrying capacity. In the case of a three-camp system, the sheep would amount to three times the carrying capacity, since the whole flock would be concentrated on a third of the available area for a grazing period.

The number of stock corresponding to the carrying capacity per grazing period should not be exceeded. Moreover, the carrying capacity per grazing period is applicable only when grazing takes place as indicated by the disc chart, or according to the usual prescribed grazing systems. As the veld improves, the carrying capacity ray gradually is increased.

 

 

METHOD

After all the information as well as the name of the farm has been recorded on the card, the disc chart is assembled as follows:

Pierce a drawing pin or something similar through the little black dot on the card and through the centre of the relevant disc and nail it to a door or bookcase. Where two and three-camp systems are used on the same farm, discs C and D should both be completed and attached to the back of the card in their correct position. The chart may be pinned at two corners to secure it. The disc chart is now ready for use as from September, 1963 to the end of August, 1969. If further dates are entered, the disc chart may be used for an indefinite period. Once the discs have been completed, therefore, rotational grazing may be commenced on any date after September, 63.

Discs E and F are provided should farmers prefer to fill in the grazing cycles in the year and month when rotational grazing is commenced or will be commenced. If the date of commencement falls in June, 1965, 1965 is written directly above JUN. and the annual dates are entered correctly. For the rest, however, the directions for filling in discs E and F are exactly the same as for discs C and D.

The re-entering of the grazing cycles of discs A and B should always be commenced directly below the arrow (at SEPT.).

A disc is adjusted by revolving slightly protruding right-hand edge. The year and month should correspond with the current calendar month. The camp numbers visible through the "window" indicate the camps available for grazing - no other camps must be grazed at that time!

The camps available for grazing are interchangeable: a flock grazing in a mountain camp can be interchanged with a flock grazing in a valley camp, provided that the carrying capacity as indicated for the grazing period is taken into account. This interchanging of camps affords the livestock an opportunity of utilising all the available types of veld during a grazing year indicated by the disc chart.

If cattle are involved, they may graze with the sheep. Whatever the case, they should not be allowed in camps, which are not open for grazing.

 

SECTION B

The following explanations and descriptions can be used as a guide for interpreting a rotational grazing system and recording it on disc C or D when only a grazing schedule (as in Fig. 2) is available:

Figure 2 shows a schedule of a three-camp system, as usually compiled.

Fig. 2

Camps

Years

1st

2nd

3rd

A

Spr

W1

E.S.

W2

L.S.

B

E.S.

W2

L.S.

Spr.

W1

C

L..S.

Spr.

W1

E.S.

W2

 

Spr.: graze in spring – usually September and October.

E.S.: graze in early summer - usually November to January/February (i.e. graze November, December and January/February).

L.S.: graze during later summer - from after the January/February rains until after the first frost, generally in late April (i.e. graze January/February, March and until late April),

W1: graze during first half of winter - May and June.

W2: graze during second half of winter - July and August. In the above instance a grazing year extends from spring (September) to the end of the following winter (end of August).

(N.B. Where a direction for a system reads:

"graze from August until early September", the word "early" may be omitted for the purpose of the disc chart.)

The grazing of camps A, Band C for the first year is as follows:

(Refer to Fig. 2, first year)

Camps

1st year

A

Spr.

W1

B

E.S.

W2

C

L.S.

 

During, the first year, therefore, camp A is grazed in spring and W1, i.e. in September and October (Spring) and again in May and June (W1).

Camp B is grazed in E.S. and W2, i.e. in November, December and January/February (E.S.), and again in July and August (W2).

Camp C is grazed in L.S., i.e. January/February, March and till late April.

During the first grazing year, therefore, grazing in the three camps A, Band C takes place from September onwards as indicated in Fig. 3. Start at September (SEPT.), which indicates the beginning of the grazing year.

 

Fig. 3

Sept.

Oct.

Nov.

Dec.

Jan.

Feb.

March.

Apr.

May

June

July

Aug.

A

A

B

B

BC--BC

C

C-

A

A

B

B

 

The camps which fall under January and February should be joined by a heavy line (see the directions for the system) to indicate that the change from one camp to another takes place as soon as the first good rains have fallen; in this case the change is from B to C. For convenience sake and to avoid confusion, only one camp number should be written under January (JAN.) and one under February (FEB.), for example:

 

DEC. JAN.

FEB. MARCH

B - C

 

A short heavy line should also be drawn next to the camp number; under April (APR.) to indicate; that the stock is moved to the next: camp immediately after the first: "good" frost (see directions).

For all prescribed systems, it is necessary to pay meticulous attention to the directions and explanations in order to determine when changes are effected by climatic conditions. Such changes are indicated by means of short, heavy lines, as explained above.

The grazing of camps A, Band C for the second year is as follows:

Camps

Second

A

E.S.

W2

B

L.S.

C

Spr.

W1

 (Refers to Fig. 2, second year)

 

The same procedure as prescribed for the first year is followed. During the second year, therefore, the grazing of camps A, Band C takes place, starting from September, indicated in Fig. 4.

 

Fig 4.

Sept.

Oct.

Nov.

Dec.

Jan.

Feb.

March.

Apr.

May

June

July

Aug.

C

C

A

A

A--B

B

B-

C

C

A

A

 

The grazing of camps A, Band C for the third year is as follows:

Camps

Third

A

L.S.

B

Spring

W1

C

E.S.

W2

 (Refers to Fig. 2, third year)

 

The same procedure as for the first and second year is followed. During the third year, therefore, grazing from September takes place onwards as indicated in Fig. 5.

Fig 5.

Sept.

Oct.

Nov.

Dec.

Jan.

Feb.

March.

Apr.

May

June

July

Aug.

B

B

C

C

C--A

A

A-

B

B

C

C

 

By arranging this grazing programme for the first, second and third consecutive years in the first open circle of disc D, commencing at SEPT. 1960 (indicated by the arrow), a complete three years cycle for the systematic grazing of camps A, Band C is obtained.

The same system appears on disc B, No.1. It is repeated every three years. For setting out all other two and three-camp grazing systems the same procedure given above should be followed. Read the directions and explanations carefully and make sure that every aspect is perfectly understood.

Camp names instead of numbers may be used in cases where a farm labourer has to bring the disc chart up to date. The changes according to climatic conditions may be disregarded in this case – in other words, it is not necessary to join various camps with heavy lines. The labourer can then effect the camp changes strictly in accordance with the disc chart.  

 

Published

Farming in South Africa 40 (1)