Kwekwe cattle herd has been rated as fairly well in terms of quality as most of the cattle in the district are in good condition, despite the high cost of supplementary stock feeds and low level of and scarcity of water in some parts of Kwekwe.
Most farmers are facing diverse challenges as they are finding it difficult to buy dipping remedies, which has adversely affected the condition of cattle in the district. Also scarcity of grazing land has affected the quality of the herd. Beef productions has been affected in Kwekwe district due to poor grazing in commercial farms, overgrazing and inbreeding in the communal areas. Poor herd reproductive management, high production and compliance (administrative costs) which include includes stock feeds, drugs, electricity and EMA levies, limited access to supplementary feeds especially the drought prone areas, poor extension services, lack of progress in research and development in terms of breeding, poor veterinary services, unorganized markets and limited access to production and market information have also contributed to low beef production in the district.
To counter this there is need for training in pasture management and paddoking in commercial farms, training in fodder production both at individual and community level. There is also need for protection of the stud herd to have a base for improving the genetics. Creating lines of credit to producers to increase production levels and the establishment of cattle breeding and multiplication farms and upscale of the feedlot program can help farmers to increase beef production.
“Dairy farming in Kwekwe District is doing well despite some challenges. At Dendairy in Kwekwe they are 957 dairy cattle and 312 milking cows producing 5100 litres of milk per day. At Riverden farm they are 1035 dairy cattle, with 380 milking cows producing 5500 litres of milk per day”, said Kwekwe District Livestock Specialist Erica Mugarani.
Some of the challenges faced by dairy farmers include poor feeding programs which in turn result in low productivity and poor milk quality, non-existing of farm forage, silage, hay production, lack of capital for stock purchases and infrastructure improvement and development, poor herd reproductive management, poor genetic quality and small herd size, shortages of good quality breeding animals, poor management practices at farm level due to declined skilled personnel and obsolete or time tested milking equipment.
There is need to rehabilitate the dairy infrastructure, revamping the dairy sector by bringing in more producers both small and large and the provision of balanced rations for the dairy cows that is water, energy, protein, fat, vitamins and minerals which will result in optimum animal growth, high milk yield and improved quality for higher income.
“There is need to train our producers in cattle management and they should invest in disease control, some of the diseases killing cattle can be avoided through timeous vaccinations, treatment and good animal husbandry, also farmers should insure their livestock to avoid total loss”, said Mugarani.