n Agrekon - Determinants of herd size among small-scale cattle farmers : the case of selected villages at the Mhinga traditional authority in Limpopo, South Africa

Volume 53, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 0303-1853
  • E-ISSN: 2078-0400
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This study employed a negative binomial model to analyse determinants of herd size among smallholder cattle farmers in the villages of the Mhinga Traditional Authority (TA) in Limpopo province. Contrary to the popular belief that rural households in developing countries generally own large herds of livestock for social reasons, communal livestock farmers in the study area who kept livestock for social reasons were found to own smaller herd sizes of cattle. This particular finding indicates that economic reasons for livestock ownership are more important than social reasons among smallholder livestock farmers in this study area. Access to markets and the ability to sell cattle were found to be the strongest influencing factors compared to socio-economic attributes such as marital status, social grants and off-farm employment. Losses due to theft and death were associated significantly with herd size. Recommended policy interventions aimed at increasing the herd size and income of smallholder livestock farmers include government introducing appropriate livestock subsidy programmes that could potentially assist farmers in expanding their herds, investments in efficient protection against wildlife intrusion from game parks, the establishment of well-functioning markets, improved access to roads and market information, and investments in farmers' education to create awareness of new innovations and practices in breeding and veterinary services.

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