Brahman cattle. Image credit

ZIMSEC O Level Geography Notes:Agriculture:Farming types in Africa: Commercial ranching

  • This is the large scale rearing of livestock mainly to produce meat for sale.
  • In Zimbabwe however, the ranching has of late been diversified with the farmers not just keeping cattle and sheep but also wildlife and ostrich farming which are more profitable.
  • Diversification always cushions farmers against disasters like droughts and falls in commodity prices.
  • It is important to note that the value of beef cattle has been increasing over the years.

Areas of occurence

  • Unlike dairy cows, beef cattle are more tolerant to a wide variety of ¬†environmental conditions, including the hot drier semi-arid parts of the country.
  • Being an extensive type of farming, ranching can occur in marginal area where human population densities are low to enable farmers to carve out large ranches.
  • The activity is also undertaken in wetter parts of Zimbabwe where the farms are smaller due to the higher carrying capacity of the ecosystem found there.
  • Hot dry areas of the country have sweetveld runner grasses, thorn bushes and mopane trees whose leaves are very nutritious to livestock hence they are natural cattle ranching areas.

Types of beef cattle kept

  • There is greater variety of cattle reared on ranches as compared to their dairy counterparts.
  • The breeds can still be divided into two categories namely; indigenous and exotic.
  • A third has emerged from the cross-breeding of indigenous and imported varieties.
  • Indigenous varieties are more resilient and adapted to the local environment but do not produce high quality beef.
  • The imported breeds have problems with our climate and environment so cross-breeding with local varieties has been undertaken to produce animals better adapted and producing high grade beef.

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