Eth­i­cal farm­ing in the Ka­roo

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) - - METRO - LUKE FOLB

SOME farm­ers who rear range­land lamb and beef in the Ka­roo are us­ing meth­ods which help prac­tise non­lethal preda­tor con­trol farm­ing.

The Fair Game pro­gramme em­braces no­madic farm­ing meth­ods by sup­port­ing a free-range ap­proach to graz­ing with the use of shep­herds. Erad­i­cat­ing the need for fenced-off graz­ing pas­tures, trained shep­herds are em­ployed to guide and guard live­stock, with tem­po­rary mo­bile kraals erected to house live­stock come night­fall.

The kraals com­prise sim­ple mo­bile elec­tri­fied wires for cat­tle and cargo-net­ting en­clo­sures for sheep to keep live­stock in and sense-aver­sion de­vices to keep preda­tors out at night. The shep­herds are al­ways close at hand and sleep near the kraal in a car­a­van and can at­tend to any ve­teri­nary needs. The kraals are mo­bile and moved weekly.

Chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Land­mark Foun­da­tion, Bool Smuts, who con­cep­tu­alised the pro­gramme, said: “The use of trained shep­herds cre­ates sta­ble jobs for ru­ral work­ers and al­lows for live­stock to be guided to ap­pro­pri­ate graz­ing sites, which pre­vents over-graz­ing and al­lows an­i­mals ac­cess to more di­verse pas­tures.”

“Farm­ers no longer have to in­vest in erect­ing ex­pen­sive fenc­ing to pro­vide graz­ing camps for live­stock or re­sort to lethal meth­ods to pro­tect them from preda­tors. It’s a win-win for the farmer, the live­stock, and the wildlife, and ul­ti­mately, an in­cen­tive for the con­sumer.”

Five pro­duc­tion farms op­er­ate near Beau­fort West, which have been au­dited and cer­ti­fied by the South African Meat In­dus­try Cor­po­ra­tion (Samic) to ensure the qual­ity and safety of meat.

An­other three farms in Coles­burg and Graaff-Reinet will open soon, to­talling ap­prox­i­mately 34 000 hectares.

Smuts said the brand was con­cep­tu­alised over the last eight years as a tool to ben­e­fit both the farmer and the wel­fare of live­stock and wildlife in the process of their pro­duc­tion.

His­tor­i­cally, farm­ers have sup­ported any and all means avail­able to pro­tect their live­stock from wild preda­tors and min­imise their fi­nan­cial losses mostly these in­volved lethal con­trol of preda­tors.

Ex­ter­mi­na­tion meth­ods in­cluded ri­fles, gin traps hunt­ing dog packs, species culls, he­li­copter hunt­ing and poi­sons.

SUP­PLIED

A SHEP­HERD tends to his flock as part of the Fair Game pro­gramme.|

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