Animal husbandry in South Africa
Handling pigs, cattle & co. responsibly
In cooperation with the oldest animal welfare organisation of South Africa, Cape of Good Hope SPCA, we offer workshops for farmers, which lay the foundations for preventing grievances and animal suffering effectively.
In South Africa, where poverty and unemployment are widely spread, many people put their hopes of a better life into agriculture. However, as the number of small farmers is growing, so is the suffering of animals. Many farmers are not familiar with the basic needs of their animals.
In order to strengthen disadvantaged communities and to show them a way out of poverty, the South African government supports people who wish to set up a new existence in agriculture. Livestock is mainly kept to be self-sufficient. In the best case, a small profit can be made by selling the animals. However, the majority of the people have very little experience with agriculture and hardly any knowledge of animal handling. Therefore they are unable to offer animal-friendly housing conditions.
Consequently, numerous donkeys, chicken, pigs, cows, sheep and goats are living under adverse conditions. Pens often consist of nothing more than a couple of square metres, fenced and without a roof or any protection from sun, rain or frost. Often there is no access to water or feed, and many of the paddocks where the animals are feeding are littered by trash like nails and glass and are insufficiently secured. This results in injuries and illnesses.
Transporting is often done under the harshest of conditions. Animals are tied to the open load area of trucks, without any possibility to move. Often they are exposed to the blazing sunlight for hours. Many animals die.
Information instead of confiscation
Together with our partner organisation Cape of Good Hope SPCA, we are working on the problem. It is our aim to improve housing conditions and the animals’ quality of life by educating the owners.
In Blue Downs, a suburb of Cape Town, half-day workshops are taking place once a week over a period of 28 weeks. Farmers who have little or no experience with animal husbandry are educated on the animals’ needs and the best possible care by employees of our partner organisation and experienced vets. The people also learn how they can create animal-friendly housing conditions by improving pens, feeding routines and hygiene. Together they visit farms in order to use their newly gained knowledge in practice and subsequently change and improve their own way of keeping animals.
In order to prevent illnesses and to be able to determine when veterinary aid is necessary, the schedule also includes checking the animals’ state of health and timely recognising common illnesses. The participants of the workshops also learn how to deworm and use parasiticides on their own, as well as first aid for injuries.
A successful concept
- During the first year, more than seventy farmers took part in the workshops. Nineteen of them took part in more than half of the workshops and thus gained important basic knowledge for their everyday lives. Four practical units follow for them directly on their farms, which link the subject matter to the theory.
- At the same time, three new groups of 20 farmers are being trained. All the farms are visited beforehand by our partners, accompanied by all workshop participants in order to determine the current situation on site: how are the animals doing and how can the husbandry be optimised to improve the welfare of the animals? Goals are set individually with each participant. Every practical unit is followed by a theoretical one until all participants have visited all farms and been trained in all ten modules. Then these farmers also move to the purely practical units.
In addition to the group visits on the farms, the farmers are visited individually by staff members during the entire duration of the workshop. They monitor the progress and the health status of the animals. They also advise the respective farmer if, for example, goals are difficult to achieve or if the farmer needs further support.
This process is repeated - always within the framework of individual farm visits. This way all 100 farms in the Blue Dows can be addressed over the course of two years and the farmers can be trained - real progress for the people and especially for the numerous animals in their care.