The management practices of dairy cattle and their contribution to livelihoods in Matatiele, Eastern Cape.
Mbanjwa, Siyabonga Ernest.
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The deepening economic crisis of many African countries has highlighted the importance of agricultural development as a basic condition for expanding rural incomes. A number of factors limit the contribution of livestock to household food security. These factors include resource and output management, socio-economic factors and the availability of good quality information. Effective management of livestock can play a major role in improving household livelihoods. The effectiveness of management practices largely determine success in dairy production. A number of studies in the management practices of dairy animals have focused on improving milk production. This study focuses more on the consequence of management practices of dairy animals on household livelihoods. Some 169 smallholder dairy farmers participated in a survey. Farmers were categorized into trained farmers and farmers using traditional practices in order to compare management practices. Content analysis was done to understand the challenges facing smallholder dairy farmers in their systems. Ordered Logistic Model was used to identify the determinants of the level of importance of dairy in livelihoods and General Linear Model was also used to identify determinants of management practices in smallholder dairy systems. The results indicated that among others, participation in the selling of milk is the most important factor determining the importance of dairy farming on livelihoods. Furthermore, gender of the person making decisions about milk sales was found to be the factor determining the management practices adopted in a dairy farm household. It was concluded that smallholder dairy farmers are determined and passionate about dairy farming however they lack good quality information about management. The key to success in smallholder farm decision making depends on the ability of the farmer to achieve good diagnosis, planning, implementing and monitoring and evaluation. That can only be achieved if the farmers are empowered with necessary skills required in dairy production, management and marketing.