Livestock farming is a profitable farming venture to consider in Zimbabwe. There is vast room to do it by targeting the domestic or the foreign markets. In fact, more players are needed on the export front. There are also untapped prospects in the value-added space. Value addition actually opens up doors for export. There is no doubt about the limitless opportunities livestock farming presents in Zimbabwe. As for niches, you have a long list of choices to consider. Common examples are broiler chickens, layer chickens, roadrunner chickens, pigs, fish, cattle, goats, sheep, and rabbits, just to mention a few. Let us take a look at common livestock farming mistakes you must avoid.
Trivializing Your Livestock’s Housing
I can understand that you may want to minimize costs but do not take the housing aspects lightly. We invest a lot in housing ourselves as human beings; the same should also be for livestock. Poor housing can present vulnerabilities that can result in theft or predators gaining access. Poor housing can also create a breeding ground for pathogens and pests. These can result in diseased livestock, mortalities, poor quality livestock, and so on.
Adverse weather elements can negatively affect your livestock if housing is substandard. There are housing considerations to bear in mind for the different types of livestock. You would do well to factor them in and ensure everything is in place and order. Trivializing any of those housing issues can culminate in huge losses.
Always Going For The Cheapest Breeding Stock
In most cases, livestock farmers deal with breeding stock. Of course, in some cases, livestock farmers start off with actual offspring. Even when starting with offspring, you must make important considerations in your choices. Your goal should be to choose top-notch breeding stock. This might entail costs, but the long-term results will be worth it. The mistake most livestock farmers make is to consider low costs more than anything else. As in, they are always bent on getting the cheapest options to minimize costs.
The ironic thing about substandard breeding stock is that you will lose more in due course. It is akin to garbage in, garbage in. No matter what good you do later, e.g. feeding well, the substandard breeding stock will still produce substandard offspring. Always insist on getting your breeding stock from reputable sources with traceable records indicating top-tier practices.
Taking Shortcuts When It Comes To Feeds Or Feeding
Feeds usually constitute the biggest cost item in livestock farming. That is why a sizeable number of livestock farmers try to dodge that high cost by taking shortcuts. Some do this by using less nutritious alternative feeding. This can affect the overall health of the livestock. It can also slow down their development, thus producing poor results. Some purchase commercial feeds but feed their livestock sparingly to make the feeds last longer.
These are some of the common shortcuts some livestock farmers take. Livestock is generally sensitive to how and where they are fed. If shortcuts are taken, results will not lie. It is wise to follow expert feeding recommendations and adhere to them. There is a reason why feeds are the biggest cost item – it shows you how important feeds and feeding are. The mistake you should not commit is to try to diminish that importance by taking shortcuts.
Not Having A Clean, Fresh And Reliable Water Supply
Clean and fresh water is a pivotal requirement in livestock farming. Before you even embark on any livestock farming venture, it is one of the things you must look into. I have always underscored that when choosing your location, consider your water supply. Will it be clean and fresh? Will it be reliable? That is why it is imperative where needs are to drill boreholes and have reservoir tanks.
You cannot often get away with having an erratic water supply. Water matters a big deal to the human body, but the same applies to livestock. Livestock can deteriorate in health, and growth, and can even die due to limited water supply or low-quality water. Do not make the mistake of not having a reliable supply of clean and fresh water. Make it a priority from the onset!
Blindly Prioritizing Quantity Over Quality
This is a common mistake amongst the overwhelming majority of livestock farmers. Their mindset is that successful livestock farming is indicated by having large numbers. Sure enough, there can be increased prospects that large numbers bring. However, it is not that black and white all the time. You have to be objective enough to assess whether or not you are producing quality above all else. Be empirical enough to check your revenues and profits closely.
Just because you have large numbers of livestock does not always mean you are making a profit. Large numbers might actually be a leech eating away at your pocket without any meaningful returns on investment. On the flip side, small to average numbers might bring in more profits. When you bite more than you can chew, you will not chew enough and might get choked. It is the same with livestock farming, do not make the mistake of measuring performance merely by numbers alone, i.e. how many livestock you have.
The other two common mistakes I will just mention in passing are getting the wrong breeds and not investing in animal healthcare. Not all livestock breeds are the same; certain breeds are best for certain things. You need to do your homework before the source. Animal healthcare can be costly since it involves vaccines, chemicals, medications, and veterinary experts, amongst others. Ignoring when livestock presents any signs and symptoms just because you want to dodge costs is unwise. These are 7 of some the most common livestock farming mistakes you must avoid. In livestock farming, it is often the case that you reap what you sow. Sow sparingly now and you will surely reap sparingly.