Potential of Jozini smallholder cattle farmers to progress from subsistence to commercial cattle farming for enhanced rural livelihoods.
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Globally, livestock contributes significantly towards domestic production and household food security. Smallholder farmers are cited to won large livestock numbers compared to commercial farmers, especially in South Africa. The potential to commercialise exists however, various factors influence the transition from smallholder to commercial farming. This study assessed nutrition and health status of Jozini cattle, and determined the potential of Jozini smallholder farmers progressing into commercial cattle farming. By identifying the nutrition and health status of cattle, the study seeks to gain insight on what the current position is with regards to animal quality. By determining the potential to progress, the aim is to assess whether smallholder farmers are in a position to progress, and if not what is compromising this transition. Data was collected using purposive sampling and 120 smallholder farmers were purposively selected in Jozini Northern KwaZulu-Natal Province of South Africa. Descriptive statistics were used to present analyse and the results of gender, age, education level, and income level, herd size, farming experience, land size and willingness to progress. Descriptive statistics were also used to analyse the association and significance with regard to socio-demographics as well as factors that determine farmer potential to progress. Majority of the sampled farmers were middle to old age. A total of 70 farmers had an average income of between R100-1500, which came from pension or government grants. Of the sampled farmers, 34 percent had no formal education. Farmers had the necessary farming experience with 50 percent having more than 10 years There were high odd ratio estimates from farming experience and income level. Farmers, who had more years of experience and higher income level, were more likely to progress into commercial cattle farming. Descriptive statistics indicated that farmers were willing to progress into commercialisation; however, factors such as market availability and market access, poor infrastructure, inability to access information, age and poor education contributed to farmer progressing potential being compromised. Body condition score was used to assess the nutrition status of cattle. Other contributing factors that were observed were the role of lactation in relation to body condition and supplementary feeding as a practice which contributes to nutrition status of animals. Similarly a clinical health checklist criterion was used to record information regarding the health status of cattle. The results showed that the majority of cattle had a poor body condition score of 2. There was a significant association between Body Condition Scoring and lactation. Furthermore, descriptive statistics revealed that tick counts were predominantly low in cattle due to a strict dipping programme implemented by farmers. Additionally, there was a significant relationship between tick count and body condition Score. The most common diseases mentioned by the farmers were black quarter and Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD). Vaccinations were administered to control diseases in the area. The study identified poor nutrition status in cattle in relation to body condition scores, effective tick control me in smallholder cattle farming in Jozini. Farmers relied extensively on agricultural extension services and the study recommends that such support services are improved. Greater attention should be directed towards empowering smallholder cattle farmers in the area through skills and knowledge development. More so, infrastructure, access to functional markets access relevant information and production resources would significantly contribute to smallholder farmers potential to progress into commercialisation.