Dairy Farm. Image credit abstcm.com

ZIMSEC O Level Geography Notes:Agriculture:Farming types in Africa:Livestock Farming

  • Animal husbandry is the rearing of livestock, cattle, sheep, goats and donkeys by a farmer in order to sustain himself and his nation.
  • Commercially, for Zimbabwe and the rest of Africa with the exception of South Africa’s sheep for the wool industry, the important animal husbandry activity is cattle rearing which is always split into two categories, dairying and ranching.

Dairy farming

  • This is a specialised type of commercial livestock farming particularly cows in order to produce milk and milk products.

Areas of occurence

  • Dairy cows are very sensitive animals.
  • They need a cool, wet climate with plenty of water, a climate that is free from pests and diseases.
  • One with plenty of grass with a high carrying capacity in order to support many beasts on a small piece of land.
  • Where natural pastures dwindle in the course of the year, it is necessary to grow fodder grasses such as alfalfa  and lucerne on which to feed the animals.
  • Dairy farms must locate close to markets where demand for milk and milk products is high because milk is a perishable commodity.
  • They locate along major roads to quickly  deliver the milk to the consumers.
  • If they are far from markets, then refrigerated transport must be provided for the milk to get to markets still fresh.
  • The farms also locate close to large urban settlements because it is from these that they will get some of their inputs such as medicines, feeds, cans and transport vans.
  • All too often, dairy factories which process the milk into various products are located in these urban settlements.

Types of dairy cattle kept

  • There are numerous types of dairy cows kept on farm which include both the indigenous and the exotic breeds but  for commercial purposes, four breeds are outstanding.
  • Jersey- brown to yellowish to nearly black. A mature cow weighs 450 kg. This is a hardy animal suited to hot humid conditions. It produces milk high in carotene, giving it the yellow colour.
  • Friesland- a rugged large animal with very large udders. Cow weighs 750 kg when mature. Black and white markings are distinct. Its economical in producing both milk and beef. It can tolerate hot dry areas with dry season fodder and watering necessary.
  • Ayrshire- light to deep red, mahogany or brown or white alone. Vow weighs 500 kg when mature. Short body blocky cow producing less milk. Short teats make it difficult to milk using machinery, however, a good grazer under adverse conditions.
  • Guernsey-golden yellow to red with white marks also rugged, mature cow weighs 545 kg. Milk is second only to that of the Jersey in milk fat.
  • Land redistribution has contributed to the closure and down-scaling of some dairy projects, for example, the Kintyre Stud farm in Norton has now been partitioned into residential stands.

To access more topics go to the O Level Geography Notes page