This farmer learned a tough lesson in cattle nutrition

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Winter is no longer a stressful time for this part-time KwaZulu-Natal farmer. Since he introduced Voermol’s Molasses Meal to his cattle, their condition has taken a turn for the better. He tells us, “It keeps my cows very strong and in good condition.”

Sipho Shibe has always wanted to farm with livestock. However, soon after he decided to take the plunge in 2016, one of his calves died. This was a big wake-up call that taught him valuable lessons on managing the nutrition of his animals.

Based in the township of Magabeni, outside Umkomaas in KwaZulu-Natal, Shibe is now pushing hard to expand his farming enterprise. He farms with cattle and sheep and has also recently managed to secure some extra land in a nearby area.

“When I started, I bought two calves in Pietermaritzburg in 2016,” Shibe explains. “I learned a lot from my surviving calf. It became a big bull, and I was attached to it. We were very close in such a way that when I’m driving, he would follow me. That is when I fell in love [with livestock farming] and that is how I started with cows and sheep.”

Shibe now farms with over a dozen animals. Photo: Supplied/Food for Mzansi
Shibe now farms with over a dozen animals. Photo: Supplied/Food for Mzansi

Shibe later sold the bull to a friend of his for R10 000 and ended up buying a “beautiful Beefmaster heifer” instead.

Part-time farmer hungry for land

At the moment, Shibe is a part-time farmer. While his ultimate plan is to farm on a full-time basis with many animals, he is limited due to space.

“The only factor that is preventing me from going big is space. I live in a small township, and I used to have about 12 cows and 18 Damara sheep. But, because of [a lack of] space, I had to sell some of them. Now [that I have] a spot in the rural area on Amakhosi land, I will move all my [remaining] livestock there. But I’m still battling with putting [up] a [farming] structure.”

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For Shibe, everything certainly isn’t sunshine and roses. He had sold four of his cows and eight of his sheep, and two more cows died since then. Still, these challenges are not dampening his enthusiasm for farming. He had always loved animals. “I have always wanted to have my own business involving livestock. I’ve always wanted to do it for my family.”

Molasses to the rescue

Meanwhile, Shibe is learning valuable lessons on animal nutrition. He has discovered that winters were particularly hard on his animals. There is no food for them to graze on, and he had to make sure that they get the nutrients they need to stay alive.

He goes on to explain, “I obviously had to feed my animals to ensure they don’t lose a lot of weight and don’t starve. [In winter], they really need those nutrients and protein, etc.”

The bull that started it all. Photo: Supplied/Food for Mzansi
The bull that started it all. Photo: Supplied/Food for Mzansi

This is the reason he decided to introduce Voermol products into his animals’ diets. Shibe particularly loves the Molasses Meal, which provides his animals with much-needed nutrients.

ALSO READ: Mbense brothers keep cattle in top shape with Voermol

The product is added to feed or lick to make it more palatable, as well as to improve the texture and appearance of it. Molasses Meal is also a good partial substitute for grains, and is suited to dairy cattle, feedlot cattle, sheep, goats and even ostriches.

“Molasses is my favourite,” says Shibe.

“It’s a very good energy supplement and it keeps my cows very strong and in good condition. The cows are healthy, so they produce more, and they also have enough milk for their calves.

“That is the whole purpose of giving them the Voermol products because I want them to be healthy. I want to assist them with essential nutrients, especially in winter when the nutrients in the grass are shot.”

ALSO READ: Every young farmer should know about ‘chocolate maize’

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