Sound grazing management crucial after the first rains

Grazing should be managed carefully after the good rains that were recently reported in the summer rainfall region, according to George le Roux, Senwes rangeland specialist.

grazing management after the rains
Good rains fell over the central part of South Africa recently. This dam on Marius and Magriet Wehrmeyer’s farm Stikpan, in Bothaville, filled for the first time in four years. Rangeland specialists nevertheless warned that grazing must be managed carefully.
Photo: Magriet Wehrmeyer

He said that grazing not managed well could result in long-term deterioration. The past four years’ drought resulted in very low soil moisture levels that inhibited growth significantly.

“Livestock producers should protect the regrowth that followed the recent rains to ensure long-term sustainability. The camps should be stocked minimally and livestock herds rotated rapidly to safeguard the integrity of the veld and growth vigour,” he said.

“Livestock producers should protect the regrowth that followed the recent rains to ensure long-term sustainability. The camps should be stocked minimally and livestock herds rotated rapidly to safeguard the integrity of the veld and growth vigour,” he said.

Depending on the regrowth, livestock should be rotated every two weeks. Species such as Smits finger (Digitaria eriantha) started growing early in the season. Without good management early in the season, its growth might be impeded later on. The growth period in central South Africa usually lasted from the first summer rains

The growth period in central South Africa usually lasted from the first summer rains till the end of April or May, according to Le Roux.

Without good management early in the season, its growth might be impeded later on. The growth period in central South Africa usually lasted from the first summer rains till the end of April or May, according to Le Roux.

Dr Mias van der Westhuizen, Free State rangeland specialist, said the good news was that the drought damage to veld was not permanent. With good management, the situation could be turned around. Droughts had always been part of the South African landscape and the vegetation adapted accordingly.

“However, the recuperation of the veld depended on sound management. The condition of the veld determines, to a large extent, the risks of livestock production and game farming. It should be considered as an extensive livestock and game farmer’s most valuable asset,” he explained.