Sustainable options in communal beef cattle grazing systems in the Matatiele Local Municipality of the Eastern Cape, South Africa

Morokong, Tshepo (2016-03)

Thesis (MSc)--Stellenbosch University, 2016.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This study explores three communal beef cattle grazing systems practiced in the Matatiele Local Municipality. Beef cattle production in communal areas remains a potential source to increase the beef supply in South Africa. However, communal beef production faces challenges such as uncertain land tenure, forage shortage and lack of proper management. This leads to systems that are functioning below the optimum possible production level and contributing to environmental degradation, and that are often not economically viable. The identified communal beef cattle grazing systems are, modified the holistic planned grazing (HPG), continuous grazing, and rotational rest grazing. The systems were investigated in terms of their contribution to financial and ecological sustainability. A mixed methods approach was adopted, where the meta-analysis study was conducted to determine the effects of continuous and rotational grazing systems on cattle weight gain and profitability. A case study research was adopted to collect data and techniques included interviews, focus group interview, grazing site observations, telephonic follow-up interviews and artefact identification. The data that was collected include information on how grazing systems are implemented and managed on a daily basis, financial and environmental status. An Ecological index methodology was employed to measure the impact of each grazing system on the environment, by measuring variables such as biomass production, percentage of litter, bare ground, potential grazing capacity, and the veld condition score of the grazing area. The outcomes of the study indicated that the modified HPG system had an initial R94 602.00 capital investment in infrastructure needed to operate the system. Furthermore, the daily management of this grazing system is systematic, and key grazing management records kept included rangeland condition score, stocking rate and livestock numbers. The financial analysis indicated that the payback period is three years, assuming that everything remains constant and the farmers reinvest the revenue generated through sales of livestock into the system. The absence of state support to farmers, led to the implementation of the continuous grazing system, because it requires minimum or no investment in infrastructure. This system is skewed in that the cattle are managed and not the grazing area. The rotational rest grazing system ensures that 25% of the grazing area is rested for a full growing season, while 75% is grazed on, but less attention is paid to cattle-stocking rate. The cost of implementing and managing this type of system required a budget allocation of R126 500.00, and no fencing infrastructure is needed to divide grazing camps. The financial and ecological sustainability contribution of these grazing systems in the short term is variable. The modified HPG and Rotational rest grazing systems depend on external funding to cover operational costs and cattle stocking rate that are above the grazing capacity also degrades the environment. However, hypothetical scenarios indicate that in the long run all these system have potential to be financially viable as a result of improved veld condition. The findings of the study agree with the literature review in that the outputs of both the continuous and the rotational grazing management systems are area-specific.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Munisipaliteit. Vleisbees produksie in gemeenskap areas is steeds ‘n potensiale bron om beesvleis aanbod te verhoog in Suid-Afrika. Gemeenskap beesvleis produksie het egter spesifieke uitdagings naamlik; onseker grondgebruiksreg, weidingstekorte en ongewensde bestuur. Dit veroorsaak dat stelsels nie optimale produksie lewer nie en dra by tot omgewings agteruitgang en is dikwels nie finansieel haalbaar nie. Die geïdentifiseerde stelsels is; die aangepasde holistiese weidingstelsel, die aaneenlopende stelsel en geroteerde rus stelsels. Die stelsels is evalueer volgens bydra tot finansiële en ekologiese volhoubaarheid. Verskeie metodes is geïmplementeer, ʼn meta-analise is gebruik om die effek van aaneenlopende weiding en wisselweiding te bepaal op gewigstoename en winsgewendheid. ʼn Gevallestudie navorsings benadering is gebruik om data in te samel en tegnieke soos onderhoude, fokusgroep-besprekings, veld observasies, telefoniese onderhoude en artefak identifisering is gebruik. Die data wat ingesamel is sluit in; die aard van die weidingstelsels, die bestuur van weidingstelsels, finansiële en omgewings status. ʼn Ekologiese indeks metode is gebruik om die impak van elke weidingstelsel te meet aan die hand van sekere ekologiese indikatore soos biomassa, persentasie strooi, kaal-grond persentasie, potensiële weidingskapasiteit en weidings-toestand telling. Die uitkoms van die studie dui aan dat die aangepaste holistiese stelsel ʼn aanvanklike kapitale invetsering benodig van R94 602.00 in infrastruktuur. Die daaglikse bestuur van die stelsel is sistemies van aard en sleutel rekords word gehou aangaande veld toestande tellings, veeladings en veegetalle. Die finansiële ontleding dui daarop dat die terugbetaal tydperk drie jaar is, met die aanname dat alle komponente gehandhaaf word en dat herinvestering deur die produsente wel plaasvind van fondse gegenereer uit die veestelsels uit. Die afwesigheid van owerheid ondersteuning aan die produsente het gelei tot die aaneenlopende weiding stelsel aangesien dit geen ekstra investering verg nie. Die prestasie van die stelsel word skeefgetrek omdat die beeste bestuur word en nie die veld nie. Die rotasie weidingstelsel verseker dat 25percenmt van die area elke jaar vir die volle jaar gerus word en 75 persent word aangewend vir weiding, daar word egter nie baie aandag aan drakrag gegee nie. Die implementering van die stelsel benodig ʼn aanvanklike investerings behoefte van R126 500.00, omheinings is egter nie nodig in die geval nie. Die finansiële en ekologiese bydra van die verskillende stelsels tot volhoubaarheid is wisselvallig oor die korter termyn. Die aangepaste holistiese weidingstelsel is afhanklik van eksterne finansiering bronne om investerings en bestuurkoste te dek. Die veegetalle wat tans in plek is, is bo die natuurlike drakrag vir die omgewing. Die hipotetiese scenario wat veldtoestandverbetering simuleer dui egter daarop dat al die stelsels oor die langer termyn finansieel beter behoort te vaar. Die gevolgtrekkings dui egter daarop dat, in ooreenstemming met die literatuur, aaneenlopende weidingstelsels en rotasie weiding-stelsels se effektiwiteit area spesifiek is.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/98475
This item appears in the following collections: