Donations provide lifeline for drought weary sheep farmers

A generous donation by a Farmer’s Weekly reader, as well as financial support from Gift of the Givers, has made it possible for the Save the Sheep organisation to provide more feed to drought-stricken livestock producers in the Sutherland and surrounding districts.

Despite generous donations of animal feed to the drought-stricken farmers in the Northern Cape, sheep numbers in the province continue to decline dramatically.

This was according to Sybil Visagie, spokesperson of the Save the Sheep drought alleviation organisation in Sutherland.

She said it became clear that the animals could not survive on roughage alone and needed fortified, high-quality feed to survive.

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“With the help of Gift of the Givers we were able to start a pelleted animal feed manufacturing plant here in Sutherland. In this way we are able to fortify the roughage with high-quality feeds such as molasses and maize to ensure the survival of the livestock herds in the long term,” she explained.

The funds donated by Gift of the Givers went a long way to take the pelleted feed project forward, but additional finances were needed to start production. What followed was a miracle indeed, according to Visagie.

A few weeks ago, she was contacted by an individual* who had read about the plight of sheep farmers in the Northern Cape in the Farmer’s Weekly, who wanted to find out more about possible ways to support the drought-stricken areas.

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“I explained the situation pertaining to the pellet feed initiative. The benefactor wanted to know what we needed and agreed to finance the purchase and transport of our first load of molasses to the value of R20 000. This gave us the financial boost we needed to enter into full production. Over and above the money, acts such as these give us the morale and emotional support to continue with the work to keep as many farmers on their land [as possible],” she said.

Some 30t of pelleted feed had been produced so far, and the pellets were made available to farmers at the lowest price possible. The project was initially limited to Sutherland, but would be expanded to other areas as soon as possible.

The feed was manufactured in conjunction with Voermol to ensure top quality and nutritional value, Visagie said.

*The identity of the person who made the donation is known to Farmer’s Weekly, but he/she wished to remain anonymous.