• Beef production set for major improvements

A new chapter in Botswana’s beef industry unfolded this week as farmers converged at the Botswana College of Agriculture to discuss ways of improving genetic quality of cattle.

BEST BREED- Some of the cows (Inset) David Falepau

Bouyoed by a newly introduced Livestock improvement Act, the farmers discussed robust strategies that are hoped to help them become the best at producing animals of good genetic quality that can be profitably under local conditions.

The new Act provides for the improvement of the livestock industry through the establishment of both the Animal Production Advisory Board and the national stud book association as opposed to the old Registration of Livestock Act which required local stud breeders to register with the South African Stud Book.

When addressing the farmers, Botswana Meat Commision (BMC) Chief Executive Officer David Falepau said the demand for red meat protein has been projected to increase in the next decade due to population growth and improving incomes.

“Our strategic planning for 2012 to 2016 shows it is definitely possible to have a financially viable and sustainable beef supply chain in Botswana that continues to pass back the benefits from the production, processing and export of beef to the farmers.”

The BMC boss added that the supply chain should be able to reward the same as any other cattle farmer in the world producing equivalent quality cattle. “However, it is not good enough nowadays just to produce good quality beef. To be competitive you need to produce good quality beef, on time, in full, to specification.

This requires amongst other things animals of the right genotypes that are selected for the most economically important traits such as fertility, growth rate, feed conversion efficiency and lean meat yield,” he said.
News of the new Act have brought a wave of optimism in the local beef industry as it will position animals of high genetic merits that can be sold alive, as semen or embryos in the local and international markets.

Botswana has been unable to meet the beef export quota, cold dress mass, local milk production and a sustainable population of dairy milking cows. Falepau said part of these challenges can be addressed by the animal breeding industry to produce the required numbers and the appropriate quality of animals.

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