Lead farmer Mr. Phineas Tshabalala is one of the male lead farmers under Umguza district. He resides in Nyamandlovu ward 19. He is 78 years old man who owns a total of 86 herd of cattle. Mr Tshabalala has attended a number of extension training offered by BEST that include the own farm feed formulation. Subsequently being adequately capacitated by the BEST project the farmer realised the need to plan ahead of the dry season through preparing supplementary feeding. Apart from the need to supplement.
The dry region of Matabeleland North presents challenges include amongst others limited access to land including grazing, long dry spells, frequent outbreak of droughts, high cattle mortality rates (poverty deaths) limited access to water. Livestock in the district of Umguza are being reared up in dry conditions. Shortage of grazing land particularly during the dry season negatively impacts on cattle production as most farmer lose cattle due to poverty death. The scarcity of grazing and water has created nomadic cattle.
During the dry season cattle travel long distances in search of water and grass which is however have a negative impact to cattle production. As a way to mitigate against the highlighted challenges beef producers have been trained on own farm fed formulation to supplement for cattle during the lean season.
Mr Tshabalala realised the paramount importance to supplement for his cattle by preparing bush meal blocks. The farmer prepared the stock feed block using grinded maize stover, fodder grasses, acacia pods and molasses. More than 200 blocks were prepared and sun dried for the dry season. The farmers started supplementary feeding on his herd of cattle beginning of September as it marked the begin of the lean season. He highlighted that he no longer has the hustle for searching for his herd in the forest as cattle have adopted his afternoon feeding pattern.
Feed block are a cost-effective means to own farm feed formulation with a longer shelf life. Furthermore, feed blocks do not only extend the shelf-life of fodder grasses but also improves their quality and palatability. Mr Tshabalala further highlighted that he was motivated as it seems as pathway to overcome high cost of buying the manufactured stock feed. As a lead farmer Mr Tshabalala highlights that he intends to capacitate other local farmers in his area through trainings and in the next season to produce more stock blocks for his cattle and resale to some to their local farmer.