Prepare for change in seasons – Ngaruka

Otjiuarongo-With Namibia � like the rest of the globe � prone to changes in climate, it is imperative for farmers to prepare for such changes, especially for changes from one season to another.

One way in which farmers can do this is by giving their animals seasonal licks for them to make the necessary transition from one season to the other.

Erastus Ngaruka from the Agricultural Bank of Namibia was one of the agricultural extension officers, who shared his expertise with farmers from Epukiro at the end of last month during one of the few farmers' days held in the Epukiro Constituency in recent times.

Since assuming leadership of the Eastern Epukiro Farmers Association (EEFA) as the new chairperson in July, Katjinduu Tjahuha has vowed to ensure more such information-sharing days.

Ngaruka particularly shared with the farmers the need to feed small stock from one season to the other, emphasising that the types of feed for animals differ, for example, when moving from a period of drought to when the rains have been good.

He said the greener the grass the more nutritious it is. In such cases, the animals only need additional minerals. During the summer grazing, regions like Omaheke, which are low in phosphate, particularly need mineral supplements such as phosphate, while during the drought animals need energy and must thus be fed with energy-rich feeds.

In the winter when animals need energy they need protein, which is available from licks such Eco-Grassveld Lick, Cattle Lick 40, Dry veld concentrate, as well as Winter Lick, among others.

One farmer wanted to know what the problem with one of his cattle is that is eating bones, whereupon Ngaruka informed him that this was a sign of lack of phosphate.

Another farmer wanted to know how sores on animals can be treated, with Ngaruka advising him to use F10, which is applied to the body of the affected animal.

Tjahuha noted the rarity among farmers of the use of Vitamin A, despite its usefulness in softening the flesh of animals and advised farmers present to regularly use it.

Ngaruka also advised them to ensure that lactating animals do not suffer from lack of calcium, thus the need to feed them before time with minerals. They heard that the problem of a protruding placenta in cows, which have calved, wa, if not an inherited problem a sign of lack of Vitamin A, or brucella.

As with the representative from Agribank, Mekupi Henagri, who made a presentation on non-collateral loans, farmers also had many questions for Ngaruka, among them regarding the loss of weight by bulls, as well as why grazing between the Aminuis communal area differs from that in Epukiro. That in Aminuis appears to be more nutritious and the animals there look better. It was explained that the Aminuis grass type was apparently more nutritious than that at Epukiro.

However, Ngaruka pointed out that feeds cannot be a substitute for grazing and that it is important firstly to take care of pastures, so that they do not lose their nutritional value.

Perennial grasses can be preserved in various ways, including the use of canopies that prevent soil disturbance, like erosion and trampling, as well as stimulate grass growth and also by preventing their use for a period to allow the grass to establish itself and to mature.

Agribank has advisors who offer advisory services to farmers, provided such farmers mobilise themselves in clusters or at events such as farmers' days and request the attendance of AgriBank's advisors at such occasions.

Source: New Era Newspaper Namibia