Farmers’ Diaries: Solly Mafuya

Sheep farmer

Butterworth, Eastern Cape

I farm Dohne Merinos on communal land and we are coming up for our October shearing season. We sell our wool through BKB, but I do my own shearing at home and package it before I send it to BKB in town. I have been dipping my sheep every month for external parasites and I treat for potential sheep scab to ensure that the wool quality is not affected.

I don’t really supplement the sheep because I wouldn’t be able to sustain the numbers I have. But I do feed some supplements in the form of sheep pellets and a homemade mixture of crushed lucerne, crushed yellow maize and Master 20 for pregnant sheep.

We shear the ewes a few weeks before mating because shearing can stress the sheep, so if the ewes were already pregnant at shearing, it could be a problem for them and embryos could be resorbed. It is thought that sheep tend to eat more after shearing and this is helpful with conception rates as it improves body condition.

We will start mating our sheep at the end of October and breed them up to December. Because of our set up on communal land, we keep the rams at home in a large camp so that they don’t roam around and mix with the village sheep. The rams only run with the ewes once a year at mating time. We breed once a year so that we lamb on an annual basis. Once-a-year lambing makes it easier for us to manage.

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