Ethical farming in the Karoo
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.
A SHEPHERD tends to his flock as part of the Fair Game programme.|