Seasonal dynamics, production potential and efficiency of cattle in the sweet and sour communal rangelands in South Africa
Monitoring cattle inflows and outflows over time is a good indicator of herd productivity. In this study, ninety households were monitored for a year to determine the effect of season, rangeland type and herd size on births, purchases, sales, deaths, off-take, cattle production potential (CPP) and cattle production efficiency (CPE) in the sweet and sour rangelands of South Africa. Most births were recorded in large herds in the sour rangelands during the hot-wet season (P < 0.05). Farmers with large herd sizes purchased significantly more cattle compared to those with small herd sizes. Cattle sales were significantly high in the large herds in the cool-dry season. Mortality was significantly high in the hot-wet season in the sour rangeland and was mainly caused by gall-sickness (24%) and redwater (20%). The highest mortalities were observed in cows (45%). Households owning small herds in the sweet rangeland had the lowest CPP in the cool-dry season (P < 0.05). The CPE was significantly high in the households owning large herds in the sweet rangeland. It was concluded that, although the CPP was low in the sweet rangeland, households in these areas had higher CPE compared to those in the sour rangelands. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.