Last update: August 18, 2011 07:49:49 AM E-mail Print

 

ANIMAL PRODUCTION ON SALTBUSH GRAZING

P C V du Toit, H Steynberg & T Erasmus

Grootfontein College of Agriculture

Private Bag X529

5900 MIDDELBURG

 

Large areas of the Karoo are subject to the development of bare patches and suffer from salination of old lands. Rehabilitation efforts have met with indifferent success. To combat excessive exploitation of the natural vegetation, the cultivation of saltbush was recommended. Saltbush is drought tolerant, will grow in (fairly) saline soils with the necessary care and is regarded as good grazing.

Saltbush plantation have been established at the Grootfontein College of Agriculture between February 1969 and October 1975. Seedlings were planted out in rows, 3m, this gives a total of 1600 grazeable plants per ha, which yields from 2931 kg to 3672 kg per ha depending on the intensity of utilization.

The saltbush plantations were grazed by Dorper sheep ewes. The ewes were mated on the saltbush grazing after their previous crop of lambs were weaned. The percentage of lambs of the second crop weaned per ewes mated, was 163% in the 1987/88 season. The average weaning weight during the 1986/87 season was 27 kg and 26 kg during 1987/88. The average daily gain during the 1986/87 season was 200 g and during 1987/88, 230 g.

The stocking rate during these two seasons, was 4 pregnant to lactating ewes per ha. Grazing was rotated through 8 camps, the average period of stay was 40 days.

It is clear that saltbush provides good quality grazing, however it is important that the animals be trained to graze saltbush in order to make efficient use of saltbush grazing.

 

Published

Arid Zone Ecology Forum 1990