Bull Scheme Culls Inferior Bulls

The Community Based Rangeland and Livestock Management (CBRLM) project was mandated to assist communal farmers in specified intervention areas of Kavango East and West, Kunene North, Ohangwena, Omusati, Oshana and Oshikoto regions in improving of their rangeland and livestock productivity.

To address the objective of the improved livestock productivity, the project proceeded to help grazing area (GA) communities with the purchase of bulls. During the onset period of the CBRLM project the livestock component’s main agenda was training. However, the shortage of bulls was identified as a stumbling block in achieving the main objective of the Millennium Challenge Account-Namibia (MCA-N). This was said by Dr Edmore Maire (CBRLM livestock expert) at last week’s MCA-N Livestock Support Activity Workshop in Windhoek.

He said in general all targeted communities had inadequate number of bulls to enable them realise reasonable and sustainable levels of production. On average each community had about 70 cows for one bull compared to the optimum level of 25 cows per bull. Calving percentages varied from as

low as 6% to 55% at most in different GAs. In November 2011, the MCA-N compact approved the introduction of a Bull Scheme with a revolving fund to ensure continuity of supply of bulls. About 90 bulls were funded under the compact in a period of 1 and half years with the expectation that

beneficiary communities would pay the agreed amounts and the money would then be used to procure more bulls to empower new GA communities.

Specific objectives were to address the extreme shortage of bulls in the CBRLM intervention Grazing Area and to achieve a bull to breeding female ratio of 1 to 25, as well as address the chronic challenge of inbreeding through the introduction of superior genetic bull, and to address the problem of infertility by ensuring that bulls within the GAs are tested for good reproduction efficiency, and also to stimulate superior bull market among the communities. Since livestock farming is an entity, removal of non-productive animals remains the only source to meet all expenses associated with the production, and the creation of a balance among the different classes (oxen, steer, heifers, cows, bulls and calves) result in good or optimum productivity. Non-productive animals were defined as broken mouth breeding stock (old cows and bulls that have lost their teeth), steer and oxen (not earmarked for any production goals) and heifers older than three years.

Due to absence of records, a more close breeding soundness examination was performed in all active and mature bulls within the GA herd. The breeding examination soundness looked at various features that make a bull a potential superior breeding bull such as the age of the bull through dentition, body conformation and the reproductive organs (sheath and testicles hanging), legs conformation (particularly hind legs), scrotal circumference, semen quantity and appearance, semen quality (microscopic examination of the semen), pigmentation of the skin and eyes and extent of relationship with the general herd (i.e. bulls born by existing cows from existing bulls in the herd were considered as potential sources of inbreeding).

After the analysis the bulls were then categorise as potential good breeders and those that found to be inferior were culled through combined decision making process. The number needed to achieve a bull to breeding female ratio of 1:25 was determined. Due to high prices of bulls, GAs were allowed to procure a minimum number that would improve the ratio by at least 50% for tangible results.

Source : New Era