Three hundred sheep killed by veldfire in the Free State

Free State Agriculture (FSA) urgently called on members of the public for donations of animal feed after the past weekend’s devastating veldfires in which, among others, 300 sheep and 18 in-calf cows succumbed to the flames on a farm near Winnie Mandela (previously Brandfort).

Three hundred sheep killed by veldfire in the Free State
- Advertisement -

According to Dr Jack Armour, FSA commercial manager, indications were that at least 30 000ha were destroyed in the fires that occurred in the vicinity of Winnie Mandela, Soutpan, Boshof and Dealesville.

Earlier, some 20 000ha were lost to veldfires that occurred in the districts of Zastron and Ficksburg.

Armour said while a snap survey would be conducted today to access the immediate needs of landowners and farmers and to determine the extent of the fires, a detailed calculation of the damage and the cause of the fires would follow in the next three days.

- Advertisement -

“The fires were put out by midnight on 27 August 2023, following changes in the weather and the cessation of very strong winds. At the moment we desperately need animal feed and support to transport the feed to the affected areas. Hundreds upon hundreds of livestock are left on the scorched land without food. Members of the public wanting to support the fire affected farmers can find FSA’s banking details on our webpage, namely,” Armour said.

Johan Breytenbach, general manager of the Free State Umbrella Fire Protection Association, told Farmer’s Weekly that the victims of the fires were assisted by, among others, the National Council of Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the South African Police Service and various fire protection association teams.

Breytenbach warned as early as May this year that the 2023 veldfire season in the Free State could potentially become one of the most challenging in recent years because of, among others, exceptionally high fuel loads and the effects of the expected El Niño weather pattern.

“The Free State lost 745 000ha to fires in 2021. The conditions in 2021 were very similar to this year’s conditions, including a very high vegetative fuel load. Extreme caution by everybody is called for to prevent any further carnage caused by veldfires,” he said.

Previous articleLocal project sheds new light on the restoration of subtropical thicket
Next articleBenefit from agrochemicals, but avoid the hazards!
Annelie Coleman represents Farmer’s Weekly in the Free State, North West and Northern Cape. Agriculture is in her blood. She grew up on a maize farm in the Wesselsbron district where her brother is still continuing with the family business. Annelie is passionate about the area she works in and calls it ‘God’s own country’. She’s particularly interested in beef cattle farming, especially with the indigenous African breeds. She’s an avid reader and owns a comprehensive collection of Africana covering hunting in colonial Africa, missionary history of same period, as well as Rhodesian literature.