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THE OPTIMUM USE OF NATURAL GRAZING IN THE KAROO REGION

 

by A.J. SIEPKER

Karoo Region

 

 

Natural grazing consists of a great variety of plants such as trees, shrubs, bushes and grasses. The composition of the vegetation differs considerably according to climate, soil and the effect of the grazing animal. The individual plants vary from palatable, unpalatable, useless to even poisonous varieties.

To ensure the optimum use of veld, the following should be done:

 

1. Withdrawal of eroded areas from grazing

To promote the recovery of eroded and/or wholly and partially denuded areas the following should be done:

 

2. Special treatment for water-course and brack veld

To give all plants, and especially permanent grasses, the opportunity to establish and increase on water-course veld the following should be done:

The improvement of brack veld can be promoted by:

The special treatment recommended for water-course- and brack veld will prevent the extinction of the most palatable and therefore most valuable, plants by continuous grazing, thus preventing the formation of denuded areas and soil erosion, .and therefore a decrease in carrying capacity.

 

3. Subdivision of veld

In order to treat all veld according to its requirements and to utilise it according to potential, it is recommended that:

To ensure that rest and grazing periods are applied judiciously and to provide for varying farming conditions, as many camps as economically justifiable, must be allocated to each flock or herd of animals, but a minimum of five camps for each flock of 250 small stock is necessary.

 

4. Provision of stock-watering points

To minimise waste of energy and trampling of veld, watering points should be spaced every 1 500 m and/ or placed one per 100 ha.

 

5. Grouping of camps

To ensure the optimum use of rainfall, camps in the same group should spread over the farm.

To eliminate deficiencies in feeding camps grouped together should be representative of the variety of veld types on the farm.

Example:

Each group should include a mountain slope, plateau, and flat - should such camps occur on a farm.

To facilitate the management of the different flocks, the different groups of camps should be able to maintain the same carrying capacity.

The following serves as an example:

Group A : Camp 1,4,7, 10 Size - 600 ha

Group B : Camp 2, 5, 8, 11 Size - 590 ha

Group C : Camp 3, 6, 9, 12 Size - 610 ha

Camps 1, 2 and 3 being mountain veld, 4, 5 and 6 hills and the rest flats.

 

 

6. Application of rotational grazing system

For the optimum development and utilisation of each veld type, camps should be alternately allowed a long resting period to ensure:

An appropriate grazing system should be practised in order to further the utilisation of rested veld and minimise:

(See accompanying table for an example of an appropriate rotational grazing program.)

The system repeats itself after completion of the third year.

It is essential that all animals (game inclusive) should be withdrawn from the veld while it is being rested.

A practical grazing system must be drawn up for every individual farm. Extension Officers should be consulted in this respect.

 

7. Maintenance of a realistic long term carrying capacity

A realistic basis:

 

8. Provision against deviation from rotational grazing systems

To ensure the continued application of a well planned grazing program the highest number of flocks to be accommodated on the farm during any period of time, must be determined (flock size 250 to 350 small stock)

Provision should be made for:

 

9. Recovery of badly eroded veld

Where such veld is beyond recovery by means of fencing it off and resting it for three years and longer, mechanical structures must be erected to aid biological recovery and biological recovery enhanced by planting reeds.

 

Published

Leaflet : Woolproduction C.1.5.2./1979